The Tyranny of Algorithms

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Algorithms are learning more and more about us while we seem to understand them less and less. Somewhere in the past few years, we ceded some of our individual autonomy to ostensibly life-enriching algorithmic intelligence. Computational systems regularly tell us where to go, whom to date, what to be entertained by, and what to think about—to name just a few examples. With every click, every app, every terms of service agreement, we buy into the idea that Big Data, ubiquitous sensors, and various forms of machine-learning can model and beneficially regulate our lives. Algorithms drive the stock market, compose and curate our music, approve loans, drive cars, write news articles, and make hiring and firing decisions. Are they in charge?

Join Future Tense for lunch in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, to explore the underlying tensions between law, technology, and culture in a moment where algorithms are beginning to define the boundaries of our own personal media bubbles. For more information and to RSVP, visit the New America website[1].



David Auerbach
New America fellow, software engineer, and Bitwise columnist for Slate

Ian Bogost
Ivan Allen College distinguished chair in media studies and professor of interactive computing, Georgia Institute of Technology

Nick Diakopoulos
Assistant professor of journalism and member of the Human Computer Interaction Lab, University of Maryland

Jenny Finkel
Machine learning engineer, Mixpanel Inc.

Ed Finn
Director of the Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University

Jennifer Golbeck
Associate professor, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland

Lee Konstantinou
Science fiction writer and assistant professor of English, University of Maryland

Gideon Lichfield
Fellow, Data & Society Research Institute, and global news editor, Quartz

Christine Rosen
Future Tense fellow and senior editor, the New Atlantis

Jacqueline Wernimont  
Author, How to Do Things With Numbers: Histories of Quantified Cultures and Lives, and assistant professor of English, Arizona State University 


  1. ^ visit the New America website (

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