What Algorithms Want

In this book, Ed Finn considers how the algorithm—in practical terms, “a method for solving a problem”—has its roots not only in mathematical logic but also in cybernetics, philosophy, and magical thinking.

Algorithms Are Like Kirk, Not Spock

When technologists describe their hotshot new system for trading stocks or driving cars, the algorithm at its heart always seems to emerge from a magical realm of Spock-like rationality and mathematical perfection. Algorithms can save lives or make money, the argument goes, because they are built on the foundations of mathematics: logical rigor, conceptual clarity, and utter consistency. Math is perfect, right? And algorithms are made out of math.

Three icons: one representing a museum building displayed on a laptop screen; one displaying a number of people holding maker and DIY tools; and one representing a toolbox with a variety of science-themed objects inside. Dotted arrow lines connect the three images to one another.

Using digital storytelling to grapple with scientific progress

Researchers at Arizona State University have received a four-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to use the interactive, engaging nature of digital narratives to invite deeper conversations about questions of scientific creativity and responsibility.