Algorithms govern our lives

On Thursday, 8 November, at 6 p.m., in the Sala Campiotti, the philosopher of science Giulio Giorello and journalists Michele Mezza and Mario Tedeschini Lalli will be discussing this topic.

Generico 2018

Algorithms now govern our lives. They know everything about us, but we know nothing about them. They are across-the-board, predictive and efficient, so efficient that a company in Hong Kong has appointed an algorithm to its Board of Directors, with the same voting power as the flesh and blood directors.

The algorithm is synonymous with control and power, and determines how we know; it is computing power combined with the will to conquer. And it is we who are the conquered, of course. This is why we should learn to understand whether their contents correspond with the stated purposes and expect them to be negotiated and bargained.

Today, when we talk about algorithms, there is a total absence of social dialectics capable of rebalancing this relationship, an asymmetry of information that is dangerous because it attributes enormous power to proprietary systems. There is a clear problem of relations between powers that need to be rebalanced, and in this perspective, a fundamental role can be played by towns, professionals, universities and research centres. Even trade unions, according to Susanna Camusso, have put the negotiation of algorithms at the centre of new union action. The negotiators also include journalists who have to stake their claim forcefully to the autonomy and sovereignty of a profession that is always human. If this awareness is not established, we all risk being at the service of an opaque power.

Giulio Giorello, a philosopher of science at the University of Milan, wrote in the preface to Michele Mezza’s book Freedom algorithms, “Today we know that, although omnipresent and pervasive, algorithms are not omnipotent. We have figured this out thanks to the strength of mathematical thought, which is also a pervasive power, but above all, it is self-reflexive – free and liberating. It is from here that we must start if we want algorithms not to be the instruments of social domination, but allies in a progressive emancipation.”

On Thursday, 8 November, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the Sala Campiotti of the Chamber of Commerce, the journalist and director of the PollicinAcademy, Michele Mezza, the philosopher of science, Giulio Giorello, and the journalist and founder of the Offshore Journalism Toolkit, Mario Tedeschini Lalli will speak on the topic “Is the journalism of algorithms still a common good?”. The moderator will be Michele Mancino, the assistant director of VareseNews.

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