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Hello World! A lecture by Hannah Fry

During the last Wednesday of term 1, my math teacher Richard Pugsley, took some of his math students to a lecture at the Oxford University Math department about mathematical algorithms in our daily lives and technological development.

Okay, you might be thinking: “Math is so boring, why would a lecture about it be interesting?” I don’t blame you for thinking like this because our society is shaped to think that math is the monster subject, and every (or almost every student’s) nightmare. However, opposite to what I first thought it would be like, it turned out to be a memorable talk, that certainly reshaped my point of view on the internet and mainly the “Cookies” policy tabs that once it comes on most of us just click agree, without even knowing what we are agreeing to do, just for the sake of seeing what we want quickly.

Another amazing thing from the lecture is that sadly, women who graduate in the mathematic field, unfortunately often become teachers, that’s why Hannah is such an inspiration to all women wanting to work in a field dominated by men, and most importantly succeed in it!

The math department building looked like a small castle with a modern futuristic building next to it, where modern meets classical! We went on a really nice walk in there, everyone chatting and having fun together, a really valuable experience!

In the lecture itself Hannah talked about the presence of algorithms in songs, and song identifying programs, the presence of algorithms in drugs research and clinical treatments, as well as games, cancer diagnosis, facial recognition technologies and a world ruled by machines and how letting machines control our lives can backfire! She gave an example of some Japanese tourists in Brisbane, Australia, that were driving somewhere with waze and found themselves lost in the water for choosing to believe the crazy route the map gave them!

The thing that baffled me the most was when she explained how every time you agree to a “Cookie” information about your online history, the sites you visit, the things you search for or even often buy, are sent to a sort of processor that using an algorithm sets advertisements according to YOU!!

Everyone in the class was really surprised to see math has such a big influence in our lives, and also has uses in so many interesting fields, like technology, medicine, and many others!



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