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The Physics of Culture

TED Talk–Kevin Slavin: How algorithms shape our world

I’m sure that many of you are aware that companies such as Netflix and Amazon run software that tries to predict what movies you like or what your next purchase should be. You may even joke about it or laugh at the suggestions that are proposed. What it comes down to, though, is that there are software algorithms out there trying to describe you. This software is trying to figure out a deterministic formula for you.

Think about that.

Kevin Slavin says:

This isn’t Google. This isn’t information. These aren’t financial stats. This is culture. And what you see here, or what you don’t really see, normally, is that these are the physics of culture. If these algorithms, like the algorithms on Wall Street, crashed one day and went awry, how would we know? What would it look like?

Kevin explains in this wonderful TED Talk how we are writing algorithms that we no longer understand and are unable to predict. In essence, we’ve created another “force of nature".

via BoingBoing


August 1, 2011 - Posted by | Science and Technology, Software | , , , , ,

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