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2020 Digital Video Storytelling, Series finalist

All Hail The Algorithm

About the Project

There’s one thing that touches nearly every aspect of our lives – whether you’re using social media, putting in a health insurance claim or online shopping.
It’s algorithms.

Multimedia journalist Ali Rae travelled around the world talking to people about how these invisible codes are increasingly playing an important role in our lives… to an extent that few of us would have ever imagined possible. So getting to grips with how they work – and to whose benefit – is really important if you want to understand the world we live in today.

The series isn’t about the specifics of code or provoking fear that “robots are taking over”. It’s about the here and now: How are algorithmic systems being built into our lives? How are they working? And what do we need to know so that we can deal with them?

The result is ‘All Hail The Algorithm’, a 5 part global series exploring the impact of these invisible codes on our everyday lives.

EPISODE 1 – TRUST ME – Can we trust algorithms?
Key theme: TRUST
Ali Rae speaks with Asher Wolf about Australia’s ‘robo-debt’ welfare scandal, Virginia Eubanks about the history inequality being automated in public services and Sharad Goel about COMPAS – an algorithm being used in courts across the US to assist with sentencing.

EPISODE 2 – LIKE ME – Is Big Tech colonising the internet?
Key theme: POWER
Ali Rae speaks with academics Nick Couldry and Ulises Mejias about the phenomenon they call ‘data colonisation’, and travels to Kenya to speak with political analyst Nanjala Nyabola, digital rights advocate Nanjira Sambuli, as well as big tech representatives Adam Lane from Huawei Technologies and Charles Murito from Google Kenya.

EPISODE 3 – CLICK ME – Trolls, bots, fake news – what’s the cost of our clicks?
Key theme: MANIPULATION
Ali Rae speaks with Mexican blogger-turned-internet activist Alberto Escorcia, Rosario Rodriguez whose son was lynched following the viral spread of fake news in rural Mexico, Samantha Bradshaw from the Oxford Internet Institute and Luis de Uriarte from Facebook Mexico.

EPISODE 4 – FOLLOW ME – Are biometrics protecting or compromising our privacy?
Key theme: PRIVACY
Ali Rae travels to Jordan to see how an iris-enabled payment system is being used in Zaatari refugee camp for the distribution of aid. She then connects this with facial recognition trails by the MET police across the UK and the use of biometrics in schools. Ali speaks with researcher Stephanie Hare, Stephano Santoro from Jordan’s World Food Programme, Griff Ferris from UK privacy group Big Brother Watch & British campaigner for children’s rights, Pippa King.

EPISODE 5 – READ ME – ‘I agree’ – the biggest lie on the internet?
Key theme: CONSENT
Ali Rae speaks with Woody Hartzog, author of ‘Privacy’s Blueprint: The Battle to Control the Design of New Technologies; Aza Raskin, creator of infinite-scroll function and co-founder of The Center for Humane Technology; Natasha Dow Schüll, cultural anthropologist and author of ‘Addiction by Design’.