The social lives of algorithms

Professor Paul Dourish from University of California, Irvine, recently presented the University of Melbourne’s Miegunyah Lecture – The Social Lives of Algorithms.

The Lecture

Deskilling and the transformation of work have long been the focus of automation and associated digital technologies. Yet algorithms also dispatch us taxis, evaluate our credit-worthiness, assess the security risks of online transactions, and choose which ads we see. They drive online dating sites, and gather the search results that help us decide on what to eat for dinner and where.

Algorithms aren’t just technical objects; they’re social objects guiding the organisation of everyday sociality, and are the outcome of the social actions of organisations, professions, regulators, and lawmakers. Together, algorithms and data come to constitute a new way of understanding and talking about society and ourselves.

This lecture will address the social life of algorithms — both how we come to understand algorithms as objects, and the consequences of enabling them to act in and upon our world.

The SpeakerPaul-Dourish-portrait

Paul Dourish is a Professor of Informatics in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at UC Irvine, with courtesy appointments in Computer Science and Anthropology.

His primary research interests lie at the intersection of computer science and social science; he draws liberally on material from computer science, science and technology studies, cultural studies, humanities, and social sciences in order to understand information technology as a site of social and cultural production.

Presented as part of the Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellows Program.

Visit our Public Lectures page to find out more.

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