Documenting "Algorithms"

Seminar | March 24 | 3:10-5 p.m. | 107 South Hall

 Clifford Lynch

 Information, School of

The term âalgorithmsâ is now being used, particularly by legal scholars and researchers in the social sciences, as shorthand to describe complex, large scale socio-technical systems such as social media platforms, various analytic systems, recommendation engines, and the like that actually depend on a myriad of frequently opaque and constantly changing computational algorithms (in the classic, computer-science use of the term), often including various kinds of machine learning technologies. There has been a great deal of interest in recent years in understanding the various behaviors and potential biases embodied in such systems, and conferences have been convened addressing themes such as âalgorithms and accountability.â Less well explored is how we might document the behaviors of these constantly changing systems at a given point in time. In this seminar, I will explore the nature of the problem, and discuss very preliminary thinking on pathways to address the increasingly urgent need to document and preserve these often-critical social and societal artifacts.