The Simpson Center for the Humanities presents…
Algorithms Before Computers: Patterns, Recipes and Rules
April 19th at 7pm
UW Kane Hall Rm 210
Free & Open to the Public
There are no cultures without rules. Rules–in the form of everything from traffic regulations so computer algorithms–structure almost every human interaction. These are rigid, precise, explicit rules that minimize interpretation. But the long history of rules before the modern era reveals an alternative and more supple kind of rule: the rule as pattern or paradigm, which requires the exercise of judgment, even in mathematics. How did we get from there to here, and what are the implications of this transformation for the way we live now?
Lorraine Daston is Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and Visiting Professor of SOcial Thought and History at the University of Chicago. A widely respected historian of science, she has published on the history of probability and statistics and wonders in early modern science. Her recent books include How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind: The Strange Career of Cold War Rationality (co-editor, 2014) and Objectivity (with Peter Galison, 2010).
Daston is a fewllow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the recipient of the Pfizer Prize and Sarton Medal of the History of Science Society and many other wawards. She earned a BA and PhD in the history of science from Harvard University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.