August 03, 2017

Coding. Credit: Ruben Molina / Flickr

When you think of code, what pops into your head? The unseen architecture behind Facebook and Google? Alan Turing cracking the enigma machine? Green numerals floating behind Neo in The Matrix? Philip Auerswald, a professor at George Mason and the author of The Code Economy: A Forty-Thousand Year History, wants us to broaden our definition of code. And he thinks that viewing code in a new way can help us keep up with our transforming society. 

Three Takeaways 

  • Philip Auerswald says we should think of everything from recipes, to laws, to on-the-job instructions as a form of code. They’re the algorithms that guide production in our economy.
  • Auerswald says that one of the first instances of humans using code was two million years ago, when our ancestors crushed or cut food before eating it. That meant that we were spending less energy digesting food, which freed up energy to grow our brains.
  • According to Auerswald, jobs are a relatively new phenomenon. They’re a new way of transmitting code, which popped up over the last 200 years. But they aren’t necessarily going to last.

More reading 

Philip Auerswald, Coding, innovation hub, Culture, pri, WGBH, Julia Child, Sci and Tech, Kara Miller

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