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Lorena Jaume-Palasí
Algorithms: A curse or a blessing?

Follow the instructions step by step until the problem is solved: this is more or less the way algorithms work. But what may make it easier to structure and carry out certain tasks often proves discriminatory in practice.

Do we let algorithms control us or do we control them? Algorithms are an integral part of our everyday lives: the traffic light at the intersection, for instance, tells us when to cross the street and how much time we have to get across. But algorithms also determine the order in which results are displayed to us on search engines and which ads are displayed to us on social media.

Algorithms are powerful – and therefore dangerous. For not only do they organize a great many aspects of the world we live in, but they can also give rise to discrimination against certain social groups and to a loss of autonomy as we let others decide for us. Lorena Jaume-Palasí is the founder of the Ethical Tech Society, a non-profit organization that assesses the social impacts of technology. Lorena’s work deals with algorithms and their effects on society. We can hardly live without algorithms now, she concedes, but we ought to be careful and make sure they don’t affect every aspect of our lives.