AI Sorting

Algorithms do the work behind AI systems. Therefore a basic understanding of how algorithms work is helpful to gauge the potential, risks and performance of such systems. The speed of computers determines the for example the amount of data you can sort at a reasonable time. Efficiency of the algorithm is an other factor. Here we go, we are already a bit absorbed into the the sorting as purely intellectual exercise. The website of Darryl Nester shows a playful programming exercise to sort numbers from 1 to 15 in a fast way (Link to play sorting). If you watch the sorting as it runs you realize that programs are much faster than us in such simple numeric tasks. Now think of applying this sorting routine or algorithm to a process of social sorting. The machine will sort social desirability scores of people’s behavior in the same simple fashion even for thousands of people. Whether proposed AI systems in human interaction or of human resource departments make use of such sorting algorithms we do not know. Sorting applicants is a computational task, but the data input of personal characteristics is derived from another more or less reliable source. Hence, the use of existing and newly available databases will create or eliminate bias. Watching sorting algorithms perform is an important learning experience to be able to critically assess what is likely to happen behind the curtains of AI.