Algorithmic culture

(KONE 2019–2022)

How algorithms organise culture? Through the workings of algorithms, lived lives are increasingly datafied and entangled with corporate entities that penetrate human pursuits ever more deeply. Algorithmic systems organise the world, create crucial differentiations, and suggest issues to be addressed. In our research, this process is particularly highlighted through ethical discourses and practices, which we set out to investigate.

How algorithms influence culture? Algorithmic processes focus on those aspects of lives that can be computationally worked on and managed. The datafied person is perceived primarily as behavioral traits and regularities that can be linked to other traits for identification of groups, making them appear as situational, open-ended, and undefined. In our research, we study the many ways in which computational processes touch upon lives, and shape ideas about us, others, and the wider world.

How algorithms make us feel? Algorithmic culture promotes emotional ambivalence. People want contradictory things from algorithmic systems, and seek both intimacy and detachment. They might oppose intrusive and creepy surveillance based on tracking of their activities, yet expect more relevant real-time analysis and probabilistic predictions that anticipate their desires and plans. In our research, we highlight the pleasures, fears and frustrations of machinic lives.

Project leader:
Minna Ruckenstein