Download What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing Audiobook

What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing Audiobook, by Ed Finn Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Ed Finn Narrator: Scott Merriman Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2017 ISBN: 9781536667608
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We depend on—we believe in—algorithms to help us get a ride, choose which book to buy, execute a mathematical proof. It’s as if we think of code as a magic spell, an incantation to reveal what we need to know and even what we want. Humans have always believed that certain invocations—the marriage vow, the shaman’s curse—do not merely describe the world but make it. Computation casts a cultural shadow that is shaped by this long tradition of magical thinking. In What Algorithms Want, 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.

Finn argues that the algorithm deploys concepts from the idealized space of computation in a messy reality, with unpredictable and sometimes fascinating results. Drawing on sources that range from Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash to Diderot’s Encyclopédie, from Adam Smith to the Star Trek computer, Finn explores the gap between theoretical ideas and pragmatic instructions. He examines the development of intelligent assistants like Siri, the rise of algorithmic aesthetics at Netflix, Ian Bogost’s satiric Facebook game Cow Clicker, and the revolutionary economics of Bitcoin. He describes Google’s goal of anticipating our questions, Uber’s cartoon maps and black box accounting, and what Facebook tells us about programmable value, among other things.

If we want to understand the gap between abstraction and messy reality, Finn argues, we need to build a model of “algorithmic reading” and scholarship that attends to process, spearheading new experimental humanities.

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About the Author

Ed Finn is the founding director of the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University, where he is an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering and the Department of English. He has worked as a journalist at Time, Slate, and Popular Science. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

About the Narrator

Adenrele Ojo is an actress, dancer, and audiobook narrator, winner of over a dozen Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award for best narration in 2018. She made her on-screen debut in My Little Girl, starring Jennifer Lopez, and has since starred in several other films. She has also performed extensively with the Philadelphia Dance Company. As the daughter of John E. Allen, Jr., founder and artistic director of Freedom Theatre, the oldest African American theater in Pennsylvania, is no stranger to the stage. In 2010 she performed in the Fountain Theatre’s production of The Ballad of Emmett Till, which won the 2010 LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for Best Ensemble. Other plays include August Wilson’s Jitney and Freedom Theatre’s own Black Nativity, where she played Mary.