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Speed Workshop

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2 W Loop Rd

New York, NY 10044

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“We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed.”

– Filippo Tommaso Marinetti


“In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

– Lewis Carroll


“What good is speed if the brain has oozed out on the way?

– Karl Kraus


“Life comes at you fast.”

– Contemporary meme


Technology compresses time; algorithms accelerate everything they touch. In less time than it takes to blink, a digital message can travel around the world—twice. Speed poses serious technical challenges and even deeper ones for managing and responding to algorithmic actions. A fast enough algorithm is not just quantitatively but qualitatively different: the difference between “offline” rendering and “real-time” rendering is the difference between a movie and virtual reality. And when an algorithm works faster than real-time, as perceived by humans, familiar forms of oversight become infeasible. To date, work on governing algorithms has focused on scale and complexity, but speed is a third and equally fundamental dimension.


This workshop explores the social, legal, and ethical challenges of making policies for a world that operates on inhumanly short time scales. Participants from a wide range of disciplines (including information science, law, computer science and electrical engineering, communications, economics and finance, philosophy, and science and technology studies) will discuss the mismatch between the speed at which computers can can think and act and the speed at which humans can—and what to do about it. We will examine domains where speed changes everything—autonomous vehicles, military technology, financial markets, computer security, content moderation, and manufacturing and labor—in search of common patterns and deeper insights. We will address the challenges of achieving machine-human collaboration and machine-human interaction under these enormous disparities of speed. And we will come together to describe and develop techniques for dealing with speed-abetted algorithmic mistakes and abuses.

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2 W Loop Rd

New York, NY 10044

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