Team Praescient often joins together to watch classic World War II movies like To Hell and Back and old cowboy flicks – one of our favorites is High Noon – after a week’s worth of hard work. Our analysts and engineers consider themselves lifelong learners, so we like to mix up our selection and pull from the repertoire of speeches relating to business, entrepreneurship, and an array of topics to include international relations, economics, mathematics, and software development.
One of our recent favorites, originally posted to TED Talks in July 2011, is of entrepreneur Kevin Slavin discussing how algorithms shape our world. Slavin, Co-Founder of Starling TV and Co-Founder and Chairman at Area/Code, emphasizes that the development and deployment of algorithms is a unique interconnection of art and mathematics – what he calls a “metaphor with teeth.” Algorithms, which requires our sensitivity to truth because they “calcify” or become reality, are reshaping our world by influencing human behavior and decision making in such profound ways that the field of mathematics itself is becoming the new frontier.
Moreover, algorithms themselves are beginning to behave, what Slavin refers to as the “physics of culture,” and thus reshaping the way in which humans relate to and interact with “machine talk.” Josh Lospinoso, Lead Technologist at Red Owl Consulting and current D.Phil/Ph.D candidate at Oxford University, showcases the use of Microsoft Kinect to predict human movement over time. While some of Slavin’s commentary relates to black box algorithms and how they are utilized to track and predict electronic activity, Lospinoso’s work focuses on leveraging statistical network analysis to explore the complexity, temporal causality and uncertainty associated with dynamically evolving, growing, and changing networks. Imagine now the possibilities of developing and deploying algorithms that pair electronic activity and human movement over time in order to advance our understanding of, for example, relational events.
The algorithmic frontier, especially throughout the analysis community, seems to be endless given the amount and broad range of applications that exist. Just as Slavin highlights the algorithmic art that can be built, humans may one day be watching WWII classics and Westerns that are shaped increasingly by algorithms.