Catherine Besteman is the Francis F. Bartlett and Ruth K. Bartlett Professor of Anthropology at Colby College. Hugh Gusterson is professor of international affairs and anthropology at the George Washington University.
A fine array of instructive studies that amount to a beneficent algorithm for understanding our times. --Marshall Sahlins, emeritus, University of Chicago 'The Machine Stops, ' E. M. Forster's 1909 science fiction story, tells the tale of a human society collapsing when the technology upon which it has become dependent fails. Think of Gusterson and Besteman's volume as 'The Machine Starts, ' a collection of unsettling ethnographic accounts of the rise of algorithmic governance, of a world in which machines automate structures of social inequality in the service of distracted corporate profit, overreaching militarism, and a globally attenuating commitment to democracy. A necessary and sobering call to arms. --Stefan Helmreich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Life by Algorithms brings together a number of excellent scholars who study the growing impact of computerized algorithms on our lives. For anyone interested in computerized algorithms, this volume is a welcome and timely contribution to an important emerging field. --Eitan Y. Wilf, author of Creativity on Demand What can anthropology offer to contemporary debates about algorithms? Tackling the term in its broadest sense, this wide-ranging collection provides one answer: from finance to farming, from classrooms to courthouses, algorithms dehumanize, damage, and deskill the practices of everyday life. Life by Algorithms documents the calculative violence of bureaucratic rationality in its most recent computational form. For anthropological scholars of algorithmic systems, this book is sure to become an obligatory reference. --Nick Seaver, Tufts University Compelling and original, this book examines several key issues that have previously failed to receive the serious intellectual rigor that they deserve. By focusing on many diverse domains of algorithmic implementation--from education to prisons, from the border to factory farming--Life by Algorithms gives readers an excellent and accessible overview of how the 'algorithmic turn' challenges many of our current understandings of the world. --John Cheney-Lippold, University of Michigan