EASST4S 2020

Lessons from Big Data in the Covid-19 pandemic

Date: 18. - 21. August 2020

Section: Research Policy & Development

Katja Mayer chairs a subplenary on Lessons from Big Data in the Covid-19 pandemic: Significance and Agency of STS in contemporary datafication with Alex Hanna, Stefania Milan and Christian Sandvig.

Given the massive social, political, legal and ethical challenges that have come to fore because of ruthless data brokerage companies, political propaganda agents, ever growing surveillance measures, and countless data leaks and security breaches, data sciences have started to reflect on the norms and values of their doings. In recent years, niches and events have emerged in the computer sciences, especially in the fields of social analytics, Human-Machine-Interfaces machine learning, or social computing, which facilitate regular exchange on the socio-technical challenges in developing IT “for social good”. Some of them are even sponsored by corporate actors in this domain. There, many aspects are discussed like new techniques to formalize (statistical) fairness against the many dimensions of bias, to better consider the real contexts of AI systems, to create new research programs on the “social effects of machine learning”. Many of the activities are strongly informed by STS contributions and all sorts of critical technology studies, or STS researchers are even directly included in the rethinking/reframing process.

However, the current pandemic seems to have exacerbated existing problems. While we see a lot of efforts to establish rapid datafied/digital responses – e.g. improve data sharing for collective learning and mutual aid or built mobile contract tracing apps, this tech solutionism is often too blind to many of the issues raised earlier, such as the widening of the data divides in the Global South, and the normalisation of surveillance. Where is STS, when it comes to the digital governance of such a crisis? What can we learn from history? What is the situation beyond the reflexive niches? What formats of intervention do we have in store to create and manage responsible datafication?

Chair: Katja Mayer, Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna

Speakers: Alex Hanna, Ethical AI, Google; Stefania Milan, New Media and Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam; Christian Sandvig, Center for Ethics, Society and Computing, University of Michigan

Type: Event organised by other institutions

Organizer: EASST

Location: Prague


Involved ZSI Employees:

Tags: big data, Corona Virus

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