Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
What Algorithms Want – Imagination in the Age of Computing - MIT Press Scholarship Online
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing

Ed Finn


This book explores the cultural figure of the algorithm as it operates through contemporary digital culture. Drawing on sources that range from Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash to Diderot’s Encyclopédie, from Adam Smith to the Star Trek computer, it explores the gap between theoretical ideas and pragmatic instructions. Humans have always believed that certain invocations—the marriage vow, the shaman’s curse—do not merely describe the world but make it. This book argues that the algorithm—in practical terms, “a method for solving a problem”—has its roots not only in the mathematical concept of “eff ... More

Keywords: Algorithm, Computation, digital culture, aesthetics, imagination, philosophy, effective computability, humanities

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2017 Print ISBN-13: 9780262035927
Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2017 DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262035927.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Ed Finn, author
Arizona State University