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How algorithms shape our world - Kevin Slavin


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Kevin Slavin argues that we're living in a world designed for -- and increasingly controlled by -- algorithms. In this riveting talk from TEDGlobal, he shows how these complex computer programs determine espionage tactics, stock prices, movie scripts, and architecture. Slavin also warns that we are writing code we can't understand with implications we can't control.

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Slavin worries about our reliance on algorithms: “We’re writing these things that we can no longer read. And we’ve rendered something illegible, and we’ve lost the sense of what’s actually happening in this world that we’ve made.” What’s more, Slavin believes we may not even realize it, as the algorithms “acquire the sensibility of truth because they repeat over and over again, and they ossify and calcify, and they become real.” Imagine Slavin’s examples taken two or three steps further, and create a short story set in a world that is completely dominated by computer algorithms. MoveOn’s former executive director and online activist Eli Pariser took the TED stage in 2011 to warn about the unintended consequences of algorithms that personalize people’s online experiences. Watch his talk, “Beware online filter bubbles." Then try Pariser’s Google search exercise and compare results with your classmates. The Design Observer Group: An interview with Kevin Slavin (10/10/2011) Application Development Trends, When milliseconds make millions: Why Wall Street programmers earn the big bucks (07/29/2011) Wall Street Journal: A look inside a hedge fund’s black box trading (07/13/2010)

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