The Social Power of Algorithms

Brief description

This 6‑hour cour­se is offe­red for the School of Innovation of the University of Trento.


Algorithms are eve­ry­whe­re. They deci­de what is rele­vant when we search the Internet, which friends we should have, which part­ner we should ask on a date, and which road we should take. But they are also increa­sin­gly good at trans­la­ting docu­men­ts, detec­ting can­cer in dia­gno­stic ima­ges, etc.

The goal of the­se lec­tu­res is to intro­du­ce stu­den­ts to the social impact that algo­ri­thms are having on our lives. Students will learn about the enor­mous power that is con­cen­tra­ting in the hands of the few com­pa­nies that con­trols the algo­ri­thms and the total lack of trans­pa­ren­cy that sur­rounds them. Furthermore, they will learn how the gro­wing com­ple­xi­ty of algo­ri­thms is such that even their authors are not able to con­trol them anymore.

At the end of the cour­se, stu­den­ts are expec­ted to be able to discuss the impact that algo­ri­thms are having on the socie­ty and the eco­no­my, and under­stand why the legi­sla­ti­ve systems has dif­fi­cul­ties kee­ping up with the recent advan­ces of algo­ri­th­mic applications.


No more stu­den­ts are accep­ted at this time.


The mate­rial of the cour­se is con­tai­ned in this Google Doc.
The file to self-orga­ni­ze groups is this Google Sheet.
Student pre­sen­ta­tions: Google Folder

Schedule 2020

  • 23/03 (17.30–19.30)
  • 10/04 (17.30–19.30)
  • Students pre­sen­ta­tions: 14/05 (17.30–19.30), 21/05 (17.00–19.00)
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