Algorithms get a bad press. Once an obscure computing term for a sequence of steps, the word has acquired a sinister connotation in the era of Big Data. We imagine algorithms enmeshing us, invisibly shaping our behaviour as they process information about us, slotting each person into place in a network of marketable personality types. “Algorithmic” is assuming the same pejorative meaning as “generic” and “formulaic”.

Pop music is particularly prone to such sentiments. Ed Sheeran is a “pop algorithm”, the New York Times notes sniffily of his new album, “able to produce reasonable re-creations of a whole range of styles.” Writing about The Chainsmokers last year, the music website Pitchfork said that the critically reviled but highly popular “tech-bro” duo use “a finely tuned algorithm” to write their EDM hits. It was not intended as a compliment.

Read more: Slaves to the algorithm: can coders create a dancefloor banger?

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Published by Mike Rawson

Mike Rawson has recently re-awoken a long-standing interest in robots and our automated future. He lives in London with a single android - a temperamental vacuum cleaner - but is looking forward to getting more cyborgs soon.

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Slaves to the algorithm: can coders create a dancefloor banger?

by Mike Rawson time to read: 1 min
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