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Editorial for the Special Issue on Algorithms in Our Lives

Computer algorithms—used by media platforms, organizations, and governments—are deeply entangled in our lives. They process the myriad traces we leave in the digital and real worlds; classify us in terms of our finances, consumption patterns, media use, legal problems, health issues, and educational prospects; facilitate various tasks from summarizing news to driving cars; and suggest information and services that at best help us and at worst solely maximize profit of their designers. Although the use of computer algorithms goes back decades, the growth of the Internet and the digitization of media have made algorithms central to how we currently acquire and evaluate information. For example, in 2022, 30% of U.S. adults used an online dating site and, of those who were partnered, 10% (20% among 18–29-year-olds) found their match with the help of these sites’ algorithms (Vogels & McClain, 2023). Likewise, in 2022, 28% of global survey respondents used social media as their primary online source of news (Newman, 2023), exposing themselves to a variety of algorithms shaping what they see and believe about the world (by contrast, only 23% of respondents claimed direct access to news websites to be their primary online source of news). The latest developments in large language models such as GPT and image-generation systems such as DALL-E allow for the sophisticated use of algorithms to achieve various individual needs, from speeding up routine tasks to getting help with programming, designing courses, searching for jobs, or creating art (OpenAI, 2023). Indeed, in a recent survey, 16% of U.S. adults used ChatGPT for work, and 19% thought that generative AI technologies such as GPT will have a major impact on their jobs (Park & Gelles-Watnick, 2023).


S. Bhatia, M. Galesic, M. Mitchell, Editorial for the Special Issue on Algorithms in Our Lives, Perspectives on Psychological Science (2024).

Mirta Galesic, faculty member at the Complexity Science Hub

Mirta Galesic

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