Professor in Political Science and Computer and Information Science

David Lazer

The Rise of the Social Algorithm

Publication date: 
David Lazer
The Rise of the Social Algorithm

Humanity is in the early stages of the rise of social algorithms: programs that size us up, evaluate what we want, and provide a customized experience. This quiet but epic paradigm shift is fraught with social and policy implications. The evolution of Google exemplifies this shift. It began as a simple deterministic ranking system based on the linkage structure among Web sites - the model of algorithmic Fordism, where any color was fine as long as it was black (1). The current Google is a very different product, personalizing results (2) on the basis of information about past searches and other contextual information, like location. On page 1130 of this issue, Bakshy et al. (3) explore whether such personalized curation on Facebook prevents users from accessing posts presenting conflicting political views.

Research Areas TOC

Computational Social Science, 21st Century Democracy, Political Networks

Computational Social Science, Collective Cognition

DNA and the Criminal Justice System

21st Century Democracy, Political Networks