Events
Commons Conversations

Discriminating Data

Commons Conversations
14 Feb, 2022

Discriminating Data

with Wendy Hui Kyong Chun
Canada 150 Research Chair and Professor in New Media; Director of The Digital Democracies Institute, Simon Fraser University

Register for Zoom link here!
Or watch on YouTube (TBA)

In Discriminating Data, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun reveals how polarization is a goal—not an error—within big data and machine learning. These methods, she argues, encode segregation, eugenics, and identity politics through their default assumptions and conditions. Correlation, which grounds big data's predictive potential, stems from twentieth-century eugenic attempts to “breed” a better future. Recommender systems foster angry clusters of sameness through homophily. Users are “trained” to become authentically predictable via a politics and technology of recognition. Machine learning and data analytics thus seek to disrupt the future by making disruption impossible.

About Wendy Chun

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun is the Canada 150 Research Chair in New Media at Simon Fraser University, and leads the Digital Democracies Institute which was launched in 2019. The Institute aims to integrate research in the humanities and data sciences to address questions of equality and social justice in order to combat the proliferation of online “echo chambers,” abusive language, discriminatory algorithms and mis/disinformation by fostering critical and creative user practices and alternative paradigms for connection. It has four distinct research streams all led by Dr. Chun: Beyond Verification which looks at authenticity and the spread of disinformation; From Hate to Agonism, focusing on fostering democratic exchange online; Desegregating Network Neighbourhoods, combatting homophily across platforms; and Discriminating Data: Neighbourhoods, Individuals and Proxies, investigating the centrality of race, gender, class and sexuality to big data and network analytics.

Dr. Chun is also the author of Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media (2016), Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (2011), and Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (2006), as well as numerous articles and edited collections. She has received fellowships from various foundations and institutes, including the Guggenheim Foundation, ACLS, American Academy of Berlin, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She was Professor and Chair of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, where she worked for almost two decades. Currently, Dr. Chun works with the Digital Democracies Institute to undertake the proliferation of misinformation, abusive language and discriminatory algorithms. Through the investigation of natural language processing (NLP), political theory and critical data studies, the group aims to develop methods for creating effective online counterspeech and alternative models for connection.

Accessibiilty

The event is free and open to the public and will take place virtually over Zoom with a simultaneous livestream on BCNM’s YouTube Channel. All of our broadcasts will be live-captioned, and our Zoom Webinar experience offers an additional Streamtext window with options to customize caption text size and display. Please contact info.bcnm [at] berkeley.edu with requests or questions.

With the consent of featured speakers, all recorded videos will be available on the BCNM YouTube channel immediately after the event and event transcripts will be posted to this page one month after the event. We strive to meet any additional access and accommodation needs.

BCNM is proud to make conversations with leading scholars, artists, and technologists freely available to the public. Please help us continue this tradition by making a tax-deductible donation today. If you are in the position to support the program, we suggest $5 per event, or $100 a year.

Previous Next