The Intelligence of Algorithms — before Electronic Computers

May 1, 2018, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
106 McCormick Hall



Event Description

During the first age of mechanical calculation, roughly 1870-1970, humans and machines in astronomical observatories, government census bureaus, and insurance offices worked in tandem to reimagine one of the most ancient forms of human intelligence: how to calculate. What resulted was not an early form of Artificial Intelligence. Instead, the shift from human to mechanical calculation created new forms of intelligence as well as a tight connection between algorithms and the division of labor that has persisted ever since.

Lorraine Daston is Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin and Visiting Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Her recent publications include Science in the Archives (2017), (co-edited with Elizabeth Lunbeck), Histories of Scientific Observation (2011), and (with Paul Erikson et al.) and How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind: The Strange Career of Cold War Rationality (2014) as well as essays on the history of scientific facts, objectivity, curiosity, and probability.

Eberhard L. Faber 1915 Memorial Fund in the Humanities Council