What Should We Know About Algorithms?

When I go talk about this, the thing that I tell peo­ple is that I’m not wor­ried about algo­rithms tak­ing over human­i­ty, because they kind of suck at a lot of things, right. And we’re real­ly not that good at a lot of things we do. But there are things that we’re good at. And so the exam­ple that I like to give is Amazon rec­om­mender sys­tems. You all run into this on Netflix or Amazon, where they rec­om­mend stuff to you. And those algo­rithms are actu­al­ly very sim­i­lar to a lot of the sophis­ti­cat­ed arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence we see now. It’s the same under­neath.

What Do Algorithms Know?

The Tyranny of Algorithms is obvi­ous­ly a polem­i­cal title to start a con­ver­sa­tion around com­pu­ta­tion and cul­ture. But I think that it helps us get into the cul­tur­al, the polit­i­cal, the legal, the eth­i­cal dimen­sions of code. Because we so often think of code, and code is so often con­struct­ed, in a pure­ly tech­ni­cal frame­work, by peo­ple who see them­selves as solv­ing tech­ni­cal prob­lems.

Exploring (Semantic) Space With (Literal) Robots

I’ve made it my goal as a com­put­er poet not to imi­tate exist­ing poet­ry but to find new ways for poet­ry to exist. So what I’m going to do in this talk is take this metaphor of explor­ing lit­er­a­ture to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion.

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