Enchanting By Numbers (2015 version)

We take another look at algorithms. Tim Hwang explains how Uber’s algorithms generate phantom cars and marketplace mirages. And we revisit our conversation with Christian Sandvig who, last year asked Facebook users to explain how they imagine the Edgerank algorithm works (this is the algorithm that powers Facebook’s news feed). Sandvig discovered that most of his subjects had no idea there even was an algorithm at work. Plus  James Essinger and Suw Charman-Anderson, tell us about Ada Lovelace, the woman who wrote the first computer program (or as James puts it – Algorithm)  in 1843.

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4 thoughts on “Enchanting By Numbers (2015 version)

  1. Pingback: Enchanting by Numbers · phiffer.org

  2. ktmt

    As a software developer I found this episode interesting. However, I feel it misleads a little, veering too closely to giving the impression that algorithms are released into the wild to make decisions and exercise logic on their own. It’s essential to remember that computers only do what humans tell them to do. Any deception, intrigue or slight-of-hand displayed by an algorithm is the result of the humans who coded it up. You need to look for the managers and executives hidden behind in the shadows — it is their intent the computer embodies. At it’s core, the algorithm is just a dumb series of 1’s and 0’s.

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