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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Algorithm Dispositif (Notes Towards An Investigation)


How can we speak of algorithms as political?

The intuitive answer disposes us to presume that algorithms are not political. They are mathematical functions that operate to accomplish specific tasks. In this regard, algorithms operate independently of a specific belief system or of any one system’s ideological ambitions. They may be used for political ends, in the manner in which census data may be used for voter redistricting, but in and of themselves algorithms don’t do anything political.

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