Algorithm matters. It conditions the way how we see the world, also in communication.
Following a special workshop convened by the Media Policy Project on ‘Automation, Prediction and Digital Inequalities’, Suresh Venkatasubramanian, Associate Professor at the School of Computing, University of Utah, here outlines the case for interrogating the inner workings of algorithms. A summary of the workshop will be available on this website shortly.
The algorithm is out of the box. Decision-by-algorithm is no longer something amusing to help us decide where to eat, or what to watch. These decisions have a material impact on our lives in ways small and large.
And that is worrying. Algorithms seem inscrutable. Mysterious. They’re balls of mathematics wrapped up in layers of code, patiently constructed by wizards sitting at keyboards in campuses.
And so we demand explanations. Unwrap the code. Expose the inner workings. Demand accountability, transparency, and above all hope that algorithms are fair, that they do not transmit or amplify all the biases present in society already.