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February LASER Event - Livestream

The original idea was to celebrate 70th anniversary of George Orwell's death. The author of "1984" died one year before the introduction of the first commercial computer. His novel is therefore devoid of algorithms. The 70 years since his death have instead been the age of algorithms, that increasingly dominate our lives. An individual is increasingly definted by a combination of numbers (tour tax id, your driver license number, your medical insurance number, your credit card numbers, etc). And numbers are assigned to various aspects of your life: the DMV rates your driving skills, credit bureaus rate your financial life, and unknown numbers of algorithms spy on you online. We have slowly created "algorithmic societies", societies where algorithms rate us and sometimes spy on us. There is hardly any government or private entity that doesn't require you to run an algorithm in order to get what you want, whether it's an application for a driver license or a medical visit. China has launched a "social credit system" that is possibly the most advanced use of algorithms to enforce "proper" behavior in society, but de facto the network of algorithms that, here in the USA, keep track of our increasingly online lives constitute a decentralized version of it (and perhaps an even more effective one). Are we achieving "social engineering" through algorithms? Can we use algorithms in more positive ways?

Panel: Irina Raicu (Program Director of Internet Ethics at the Santa Clara University), Michal Kosinski (Stanford Graduate School of Business), Simina Mistreanu (China-based journalist) and cultural historian Piero Scaruffi on "The Algorithmic Society".

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Thursday, 02/25/21


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