A variety of meanings has been attributed to the ubiquitous word “algorithm”, as it gradually moves away away from its original definition of “a procedure for solving a mathematical problem”. In order to better understand its transformations and use, I spoke to the person who has referred to our epoch as “the age of the algorithm”. Massimo Mazzotti is a historian and sociologist of science at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also the Director of the Centre for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society (CSTMS), “a laboratory [conducting research]… on the histories and implications of scientific research, biomedicine, and new technologies”. Mazzotti connected me with Shreeharsh Kelkar, who is a lecturer in the Interdisciplinary Studies program and affiliated with the Algorithmic Fairness & Opacity Working Group (AFOG), whose mission is to develop “policy recommendations around issues of fairness, transparency, interpretability, and accountability in algorithms and algorithm-based systems”. In this interview, we identify algorithms as tools and look at some of their implications, including profiling and record-keeping.
Caterina Riva, 2021
Caterina Riva interviews UC Berkeley scholars Massimo Mazzotti and Shreeharsh Kelkar on algorithmic systems, featuring artworks by Elisa Giardina Papa’. Keep reading on so far.