Published on 9 Oct 2018
Listen to Hannah Fry’s full episode here: https://www.hiddenforces.io/podcast/s…
In Episode 64 of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with mathematician and public educator, Hannah Fry. Dr. Fry’s mathematical expertise has led to the development of several documentaries on the BBC, where she also hosts her own, long-running Radio 4 program: The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry. Already a two-time author, Hannah is out with her third and latest book, Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms.
Since the turn of the twentieth century, algorithms have assumed the power previously associated with pontiffs or the divine right of kings. In an instance of late 20th century lore, the great Chess Champion Garry Kasparov, reflecting upon his historic loss to IBM’s Deep Blue described the algorithm that defeated him in less than twenty moves, as having ‘suddenly played like a God for one moment’. Kasparov’s experience – that of having been unnerved by the intelligence and obstinate posture of an otherwise lifeless machine – has not remained confined to the narrow dimensions of his chess board. In the 20 years since his loss, increasingly intelligent algorithms seem to be overtaking our world and making humanity obsolete in the process.
But in the age of the algorithm, there are those like Hannah Fry, who believe that our place has never been more important. She believes that we should stop seeing machines as objective masters. Instead, we need to start treating algorithms as we would any other source of power; questioning their decisions, scrutinizing their motives, and holding them accountable for their mistakes.
As computer algorithms increasingly control and decide our future, ‘Hello World’ is a reminder of a moment of dialogue between human and machine. Of an instant where the boundary between controller and controlled is virtually imperceptible. It marks the start of a partnership – a shared journey of possibilities, where one cannot exist without the other. In the age of the algorithm, that’s a sentiment worth bearing in mind.
Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas