What Algorithms Want


Algorithms tell us what to read, where to go, and whom to date…but do we really understand them?

It’s easy to think of algorithms as magical beings, delivering purely objective, admirably efficient, and sometimes startlingly insightful solutions to our everyday problems, but in his new book What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing, Ed Finn reveals them to be more like Captain Kirk than Spock.  The algorithm shares roots with Alan Turing and ancient Babylonian mathematicians, but also the boundaries of language, cognition and magical thinking.

How are algorithms changing our lives, from the aesthetics of television shows to the structure of the economy? What, really, do algorithms want from us? Do they have an imagination of their own? An agenda? Join Future Tense for a conversation with Ed Finn and Christine Rosen, a Future Tense fellow and senior editor of The New Atlantis, to find out why we need to understand algorithms and how computational intelligence can build (or prevent) an enhanced (human) future.

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate , New America , and Arizona State University.

Follow the conversation online using #AlgorithmsWant and following @FutureTenseNow

The reception and registration will open at 5:30 pm; followed by the conversation at 6:00 pm.


Ed Finn
Author, What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing
Director, Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University
Academic Director, Future Tense

Christine Rosen
Senior Editor, The New Atlantis
Fellow, Future Tense