This is my talk at the Unboxing: Algorithms, Data and Democracy. It starts in German but the talk itself is in Englisch.
If you prefer to read, here is the manuscript of the talk.
Algorithms we need
Initially, I wrote this talk in German, but decided in the last minute to give it in English. However, I hate to translate my own texts. So the English you hear now is 85% machine translation and 15% corrections by me. Perhaps you can tell which is which. The accent is 100% me. Or should I say, Canadian English filtered through Swiss German? It's hard to draw boundaries, these days.
Anyway, let me start with three assumptions. First, we need algorithms as part of an infrastructure that allows social complexity and dynamics to meet our real challenges. Second, many of the algorithms are made poorly. I think, in particular, of those that shape day-to-day social practices, algorithms that do what sociologists call "social sorting" (David Lyon) or "automatic discrimination" (Oscar H. Gandy). However, this will be the third point, these issues of poor design are only part of the problem because there is no autonomous technology, even if it is called "intelligent" or "self-learning".
We need algorithms
When I talk about algorithms, I do not mean isolated computer code, but socio-technical systems and institutional processes that automate parts of decision-making.