Algorithms, A Summary …

Algorithms are abstract, autonomous set of instructions that accomplish a task and solve a problem big or small, efficiently. In it’s more complex form, it is an entity that have woven it self into the different layers of everyday life and which is continuously growing. It is behind every interaction we have with technology, from granted touch screen commands, to advanced astronaut simulators. Algorithms, consciously or unconsciously, are integrated in our lives and are shaping the the way we live, it has become deeply rooted in the fabric of our society, and we have become the age of algorithmic culture.(1)

As it is impossible to formalise a structure for any natural language, this applies to algorithms as well, they have a pragmatic dimension and it is effected by extrinsic factors that is reflected by culture. So it is impossible to conceptualise it as a self-sufficient system as algorithms can be very dynamic depending on which platform it is used with.

The concept of an algorithm as a statement started as an historical existence of the syntax and semantics of a language, and this existence accomplished tasks in stages. However, algorithms deploy abstraction as a set of actions within a mechanic discourse, and due to it’s abstractionism, it can be applied to other different content. But as Gills Releuze and Felix Guattari (2) express that algorithms are not abstract enough.

Although the difference between algorithms and data structure is formal and structured, they are still strongly interdependent on each other, there is no data without algorithms and there is no algorithms without data. In addition, although algorithms are well known to be autonomous, self-sufficient and dynamic, they continuously work as part of a wider set of processes and actions and have more to them then just a statement, logic or reason.

The attributes of algorithms as stated before, and its’ self sustainability take part in a complex relation within the wider range of processes and networks, and that brings forward to ones attention, the vast amount of power algorithms can exert on our own everyday decisions. The question lies in the amount of control algorithms have on us and how it shapes our word. As Kevin Slavin said in his Ted talk: “when do we start to lose control?” (3)

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  1. Algorithmic Cultures: Essays on Meaning, Performance and New Technologies (Routledge Advances in Sociology) Robert Seyfert, Jonathan Roberge

(2) Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, “November 20, 1923: Postulates of Linguistics,” in A Thousand Plateaus.

(3) How Algorithms shape our world by Kevin Slavin