We live in a world run by algorithms, computer programs that make decisions or solve problems for us. In his riveting, funny talk, Kevin Slavin will show us how modern algorithms determine stock prices, espionage tactics, even the movies we watch. But, he asks—if we depend on complex algorithms to manage our daily decisions—when do we start to lose control?
Computers aren’t the objects that sit on our desks; they are the nervous system for a networked world. Their effects are broad, deep, and often quite difficult to discern, extending far off the desktop into our everyday lives.
Inside, they are simply algorithms that are trying to make the kinds of decisions that humans find difficult. The algorithms themselves might not be new. But their domain most certainly is: everything from the way that elevators arrive to the way that movies are made, and then, of course, there’s Google, and the stock market. More and more of our everyday experiences have algorithms folded deep inside them. And fewer and fewer of those algorithms have human supervision integrated into their operations.
This is a tour, investigation, and interrogation of what these algorithms are, how they function, where they live, and raises questions about this new form of physics. Not just the physics of information, or of finance, but of culture at large. A review of the last few years, and a glimpse of what’s to come.