Absurd Algorithms

Rebecca Skurnik

Can we the trust systems and algorithms that we are currently relying on? What would the world look like if I make my own systems and algorithms?


We’re relying on more and more systems or algorithms that we do not fully understand how they work. For example, we use apps to get us what we want, but do we know exactly what these apps are doing to deliver our desired output? Allegations have been made that algorithms are biased, written by white males only. But who knows for sure? For all we know, these algorithms may as well be absurd.
We rely on these apps to help us and we trust in them yet we do not understand how they operate. My thesis is a series of artistic demonstrations that challenges the neutrality and reliability of the algorithms we rely on. I created my own algorithms and made them absurd. The algorithms are to be used in tandem with the apps in order to get my desired output. After creating my absurd algorithms, I relied on them, and had my friends and family rely on them as well.

Algorithm 1: Finding a partner
Using PoseNet (machine learning) to get the placement of your facial features, as well as the placement of the facial features of someone’s picture on Tinder (or another dating app). If the facial feature placements on your picture match the facial feature placements on the other person’s picture, you are a match. The algorithm will tell you to swipe right. Otherwise, you are not a match, and the algorithm will tell you to swipe left.

Algorithm 2: Finding an apartment
Using (scraping) your past orders on Seamless via a chrome extension to determine what apartment you should get on StreetEasy.

Algorithm 3: Finding what to watch
Using your birthday (zodiac sign) to determine which shows/movies you should watch on Netflix.