How Has Computer Code Shaped Humanity?

Nearly 80 years after engineers programmed the first electronic computers, most of us still regard machines as supremely rational collections of electrical circuits, speaking in binary “1”s and “0”s. It can be easy to forget that software, the digital instructions that tell computers how to do their jobs, springs from the minds of living, breathing people. And these coders imbue their craft with the same impulses, insights, foibles, and failings that have driven human history for centuries. Ultimately, code works (or fails to work) because of the brilliance—or boneheadedness—of the people who write it. How do biases shape software, and ultimately, society? What does ethical programming look like? And how does computer code generate beauty, pain, discovery, love—reflecting and reimagining the very things that make us human?

Join Zócalo and Future Tense online and live at the ASU California Center in Los Angeles to ponder human decision-making’s impact on the digital world–and the ways that code, in turn, has shaped humanity.
Zócalo invites our in-person audience to continue the conversation with our speakers and each other at a post-event reception with complimentary drinks and small bites.


ASU California Center
1111 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90015


Torie Bosch
Editor, “You Are Not Expected to Understand This”: How 26 Lines of Code Changed the World
Editor, Future Tense


Nonny de la Peña
Founding Director, ASU Narrative and Emerging Media Program

Charlton McIlwain
Author, Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, from the Afronet to Black Lives Matter

Ethan Zuckerman
Author, Communications Professor, and Internet Activist

January 31, 2023
Run time:
ASU California Center, 1111 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Presented by:
Future Tense