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The Constitution of Algorithms: Ground-Truthing, Programming, Formulating

The New Books Network interviewed Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) researcher and dhCenter member Florian Jaton about his book, in which he provides an account of where algorithms come from and how they are constituted. Listen to the podcast.

The Constitution of Algorithms: Ground-Truthing, Programming, Formulating (MIT Press, 2021) is a laboratory study that investigates how algorithms come into existence. Algorithms–often associated with the terms big data, machine learning, or artificial intelligence–underlie the technologies we use every day, and disputes over the consequences, actual or potential, of new algorithms arise regularly. In this book, Florian Jaton offers a new way to study computerized methods, providing an account of where algorithms come from and how they are constituted, investigating the practical activities by which algorithms are progressively assembled rather than what they may suggest or require once they are assembled.

Florian Jaton is is a postdoctoral researcher in the STS Lab, a research unit of the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Florian studied philosophy, mathematics, literature, and political science before receiving his PhD in social science at the University of Lausanne. He also worked at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science at the University of California Irvine and at the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation at the École des Mines de Paris. His research interests are the sociology of algorithms, the philosophy of mathematics, and the history of computing.

Austin Clyde is a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago Department of Computer Science. He researches artificial intelligence and high-performance computing for developing new scientific methods. He is also a visiting research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Science, Technology, and Society program, where his research addresses the intersection of artificial intelligence, human rights, and democracy.

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