Hello! This week, we spent a lot of time studying the meaning of programming, both in the sense of computer programming and the algorithms that we compute in our heads. We read Nick Montfort’s Appendix A in Exploratory Programming, and read (or listened) to Douglas Rushkoff’s Program or be Programmed. Montfort discussed the possible benefits that come with understanding programming, and how algorithmic thinking can give us insight into a plethora of relatively common things; Montfort uses culture as an example here, to emphasize how one person could generate an algorithm for an entire culture to willingly follow. I feel that society could benefit from the introduction and development of algorithmic thinking; processing new data through a standardized, logical method. However, that also feels very cold, robotic, and overwhelming; for some of us, the analysis of each and every though could be anxiety-inducing. (that might be a little off topic, but I feel like that is something to consider)

Rushkoff builds off of this idea, and shares his concerns about changes in societal structure with the introduction of any revolutionary new technology; if we, the general populace, are not programmers, then we are being programmed. In class, we took a look at his proposed hierarchy, and worked in groups to propose how generative AI could play into this. I believe we concluded that, surprisingly, generative AI isn’t a large enough leap to merit another shift, as Rushkoff describes.

We also listened to Cathy O’Neill discuss her concept of a “weapon of math destruction”, which in short, is a predictive algorithm of relative “importance”, that can negatively impact (“destroy”) users without them knowing (“secretly”). I’m not necessarily sure if this would could as a WMD, but I did watch a Vsauce video this morning, in which he mentioned a story about a teenage girl receiving baby-related coupons. The girl’s father marched into Target (the store that was sending his daughter the coupons) and demanded an explanation, as to his knowledge the girl was not pregnant. The store apologized, but not long after, the father returned to the store and HE apologized, as his daughter has just revealed to him that she was, in fact, pregnant. Target had analyzed her purchasing habits, such as specific vitamins and scent-free soaps, and had known the girl was pregnant before her father did. Not necessarily certain if this counts, but it felt like it was at least worth noting.

In regard to my final project, I did have a bit of a brain blast while Dr. Whalen was presenting some ideas in class on Friday. I am not yet sure about a topic, aside from a few small concepts I want to implement. I THINK I’d enjoy putting together a game with GameMaker Studio 2. I’ve been thinking about it for a year now, and I would love to start small, and introduce myself to the software. I think this would be a great place to do so!

I am very excited for what’s to come!

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