How Algorithms Are Shaping The World

We live in a world that is increasingly being designed for and run by algorithms. Algorithms are highly complex computer programs that can solve problems and even determine espionage tactics, stock prices or what script will be a successful movie. An obvious, but key distinction, needs to be made here between automation and AI. Automation is just a machine performing a rote, repetitive task – like the work robots currently do on auto assembly lines. With AI, machines actually observe and learn new capabilities – on their own.

That’s the essence of machine learning. Computer programmers don’t have to write every line of code for an algorithm to execute a function; they just have to design the algorithm to learn from the “experience” of a data set. It’s not like Google’s developers wrote every line of code for self-driving cars; rather, the algorithms observed real life drivers and now draw from that database to make the right decision. 

In the talks in this playlist presenters Kevin Slavin and Christopher Steiner warn that human beings are now writing code that they can't understand, and are losing more and more control of their lives by depending on complex algorithms to manage their decisions.

Sources: ted.com and R. Hessel's article: Are Robots Going To Replace CEO's?

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