“Algorithms were around for a very long time before the public paid them any notice. The word itself is derived from the name of a 9th-century Persian mathematician, and the notion is simple enough: an algorithm is just any step-by-step procedure for accomplishing some task, from making the morning coffee to performing cardiac surgery,” writes Geoff Nunberg in their recent NPR article entitled “Algorithmic Intelligence Has Gotten So Smart, It's Easy To Forget It's Artificial.”
“Computers use algorithms for pretty much everything they do — adding up a column of figures, resizing a window, saving a file to disk. But all those things usually just happen the way they're supposed to. We don't have to think about what's going on under the hood,” explains Nunberg.
Nunberg continues, “But algorithms got harder to ignore when they started taking over tasks that used to require human judgment — deciding which criminal defendants get bail, winnowing job applications, prioritizing stories in a news feed. All at once, the media are full of disquieting headlines like ‘How to Manage our Algorithmic Overlords’ and ‘Is the Algorithmification of the Human Experience a Good Thing?"
According to the NPR article, “Ordinary muggles may not know exactly how an algorithm works its magic, and a lot of people use the word just as a tech-inflected abracadabra.”
“So it's natural to be wary of our new algorithmic overlords. They've gotten so good at faking intelligent behavior that it's easy to forget that there's really nobody home,” Nunberg remarks later in the piece.
Of course, this got us thinking about the evolution of Proactive Operations.