TechnologyAlgorithmic literacy or the need to distribute power

    Algorithmic literacy or the need to distribute power

    It is very difficult to function in a society in which algorithms are increasingly present, if we are not capable of understanding them. And I am not referring to traditional digital skills, nor to advanced programming. Just as knowing how to read and write was essential for personal autonomy or the exercise of full citizenship, in this time when artificial intelligence will be everywhere, algorithmic literacy will allow us to continue being free. Otherwise, there will be two classes of people, those who can use the algorithms and those who are used by them.

    The digital citizenship towards which we are moving requires educating ourselves in this new context in which phrases have been replaced by lines of code. Automated systems spread rapidly. Every time they decide or influence more aspects of our lives. It is a space that is still opaque, invisible. There is a general lack of knowledge about what they are, where they are used, for what and what their impacts are. Nor are there, at the moment, audits or standards that guarantee its quality. How can a person decide if he agrees with the decision rules built into the artificial intelligence that controls his life without understanding it? Public and political opinion finds out about its existence when the scandal breaks, as in the case of the government of the Netherlands, convicted of violating human rights by using an algorithm against its own citizens.

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    The numbers speak for themselves. More than 90% of all searches in the world are through the same place: Google. Every day billions of people trust their algorithm for everything. It is a two-way street, the web gives information in exchange for our data. Are we aware? Do we know ways to protect ourselves? And to influence the algorithm? If you don’t understand how it works, you can end up trapped in a preference bubble in which your vision of the world is progressively reduced. And what we don’t need, precisely, are more trenches. And what about the generative models of artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT that in five days achieved a million users -Netflix took more than three years-. Are we prepared as a society to detect those contents that do not conform to reality? Do we understand, even in a basic way, how this model learns?

    Algorithmic literacy can be defined as the ability to be aware of the use of algorithms in applications, platforms and online services. Understanding how they work, being able to critically evaluate decision making, having the skills to deal with algorithmic operations or even influence them. Remember that an algorithm is a set of rules or orders whose use has intensified with artificial intelligence. In fact, there is already a generation that has only experienced a world mediated by them and in some way they are being directed by the data they collect, since their preferences are conditioning what is shown to them on the screens. Who helps them?

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    Algorithms are everywhere, they are being integrated into our current socioeconomic structures and into other aspects of daily life, including academic work. It is not a negative thing, on the contrary, its large-scale application has had a net positive effect. People can be more productive, know more about more topics than ever before, spot trends, or better understand the world around them. We are discovering new ways of relating to our creativity and knowledge thanks to the latest generative advances. And it will only go further. That is precisely why we must have the necessary driving skills that allow us to control the machine and not the other way around. It is time to advance in the knowledge of technology and thereby redistribute the power of those who control it.

    As always, schools and educational centers have a fundamental role. You have to start at the beginning. Privacy and how to manage the settings so that privacy is preserved. Follow how we are informed, how it is searched; why you see what you see and the order in which you do it. It would be interesting for students to reflect on how they investigate to learn to be more critical and to master the intention in the process.

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    Society must be able to reason about algorithms and their processes; assess their influence, understand the effect they have in social, cultural, economic and political contexts; and, ultimately, make the person a co-decision maker. We must be better equipped for a reality in which these automated systems are delegated. Ultimately, the need for algorithmic literacy arises from the need to share power. Algorithms, especially those that use machine learning Y deep learningThey are complex, opaque, invisible, and protected by intellectual property, but above all, they have consequences on people’s lives. Control rests with those who create and deploy them, not with those who use them. And that is what needs to be changed. This is not about learning to write code, this is about being an active part of the social design that is being codified in technology.

    Lucia Velasco is an economist and author of ‘Is an algorithm going to replace you?’

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    Source: EL PAIS

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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