Artificial, But Not Intelligent
Communicating with Algorithms

WORKSHOP (Aula Gambi)
July 1-2, 2020
4.30 – 6.30 pm


Do algorithms have to reproduce the processes of human intelligence in order to be smart and to act as competent social partners? Referring to recent developments in digital programming and in the use of digital tools, in the workshop we will discuss if algorithms can are more efficient when they abandon this goal. Digital tools that do not “think” like people are already affecting the ability to obtain and process information in society. Today’s most successful learning algorithms do not try to be intelligent but work in ways that are different from human mental processes and often intransparent to observers. What are the consequences of this shift on the design and the social use of algorithms? What theoretical tools do we need to understand the unprecedented possibility of information not produced by intelligence?
Guided by these questions, the workshop addresses a series of recent debates on important topics, such as the possibility of algorithms reading texts, the increasing role of lists and ordered series in the web, the forms and the limits of digital memory, and the social consequences of new powerful forms of digital prediction.

Elena Esposito is an Italian sociologist who works in social systems theory. She studied sociology at the University of Bologna where also earned a Laurea in Philosophy under the supervision of Umberto Eco. She earned a PhD in Sociology at the Bielefeld University with a thesis on the operation of observation in constructivism. Her PhD supervisor was Niklas Luhmann. She teaches at the Bielefeld University (Germany) and at University of Bologna (Italy). Her research is embedded in Luhmannian social systems theory.