What is an algorithm?
Updated: Aug 26, 2022
So what is an algorithm, and why should you care?
According to Websters
: a procedure for solving a mathematical problem (as of finding the greatest common divisor) in a finite number of steps that frequently involves repetition of an operation broadly: a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end
So why should "a procedure for solving mathematical problems matter to us? Or something to find the greatest common divisor. We are looking for something in some case we share or a group of people shares, maybe a political base, maybe an extremist unit, perhaps a college, or a group of people. We can apply mathematics to almost everything in the known world. To find out the greatest common divisor or the greatest common factor. This is a bland, confusing definition of what will eventually become Artificial Intelligence or Machine learning.
Algorithms currently run everything in your life. Every time you type in a search in Google or any other search engine, it runs through an Algorithm. People plug in a series of numbers or parameters, and when we type in something, it runs through all the possible outcomes to find the single thing in common.
According to Invisibly.com, it lists a few of the most commonly recognizable "algorithms" we use in real life. Such are;
You can read the whole article at the above link.
Why is understanding this important in our day and age? Simply put, everything, and I mean everything, is being tracked and fed into algorithms ryim someone uses to influence us, sell us stuff, and convince us.
Some sites go as far as to vilify Algothrymes and brandish them "Machine Learning" When we talk about machine learning, it is not so different from teaching someone,a person, a child, anything. All our life is a series of inputs, ourchildhood, education, religion, culture, likes, dislikes, and things we watch and read- these are all the inputs that we program our minds with. But does that mean we are computers? Who knows, really... but I believe that Companies will use everything they have at their disposal to manipulate, sell, and control us to their ends. Here is what The Institute of an Internet and Just Society say about them;
However, the negative implications that algorithmic design may have are often the object of heated discussions on the controversies that surround algorithms. Such controversies often concern privacy issues: algorithms work with the personal data of the social media user, in order to “know” how to display the content on the social media platform (for example, algorithms make use of sensitive data such as the geographical location of the user, the friends and acquaintances they interact the most with, the pages and hashtags that they often search for, et cetera). Similarly, there are also considerations about how algorithms influence the opinion and interests of social media users and, consequently, of the digital society.
So what is our take-home?
At the very baseline, we need to know that each keystroke, each search on any computer, mobile device, and everything is being used by a handful of companies and can be searched or served by the government. Now, for the most part, does it really matter- No? But when algorithms are used to block, shadow band, manipulate and steer our general societal psyche, they can be very harmful.
The key would be to remove yourself from as many of these inputs. Stop hitting the like button, stop commenting on things, stop sharing things from the most common social platforms, and share things directly from places of origin; this article was most to bring attention to all the tracking on the internet.