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Cover of Italian translation of "What Algorithms Want" by Ed Finn featuring a coding design
April 2018

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Che cosa vogliono gli algoritmi?: L'immaginazione nell'era dei computer

Italian translation of "What Algorithms Want"
Ed Finn
Translated by: 
Daniele A. Gewurz

[Translated from Italian] Algorithms help us to navigate the streets of cities, to choose a book or a film, provide an answer to our every need. We believe in them as in a thaumaturgical formula that can unveil what we need to know and what we want. Ed Finn emphasizes how the algorithm — or "a method to solve a problem" — has its roots not only in mathematical logic, but also in cybernetics, philosophy and magical thinking. Algorithms therefore not only describe the world but create it, reorganizing the chaotic daily reality with unpredictable, disquieting and sometimes fascinating results. Spacing from Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash" to Diderot's "Encyclopédie," from Adam Smith to Star Trek's computer, the author explores the gap between theoretical horizon and practical effects, examines the development of intelligent assistants such as Siri, the algorithmic aesthetics of Netflix, the virtual satirical game Cow Clicker, the revolutionary economy of bitcoins, the goal of Google to anticipate our every need and intention, the maps of Uber, the exponential growth of Facebook and much more.


Ed Finn directs the Center for Science and the Imagination at ASU, where he is also an associate professor with a joint appointment in the Department of English and the School of Arts, Media and Engineering.