Science, Technology and Society Seminar: STS Circle at Harvard


Monday, April 15, 2019, 12:15pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, Room S050

"Discriminating Data"


Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Canada 150 Research Chair in New Media, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University.


Tito Carvalho, Fellow, Program on Science, Technology and Society, Harvard Kennedy School.


Sheila Jasanoff, Faculty Associate. Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard Kennedy School.

Co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.


Tito Carvalho

Lunch is provided if you RSVP via our online form before Thursday afternoon, April 11th.


This talk draws from Chun's current book project, Discriminating Data: Neighborhoods, Individuals, Proxies, which investigates the centrality of race, gender, class and sexuality to machine learning and network analytics. Unpacking key technical concepts—from correlation to proxies, factor analysis to deep learning—it reveals how these principles can foster acrimony and segregation and, through their default assumptions and conditions, amplify the societal and “human” prejudices that they were developed to negate. To desegregate networks and buttress social justice, Discriminating Data argues for the further development of alternative algorithms, defaults and interdisciplinary coalitions.


Wendy Hui Kyong Chun is Simon Fraser University's Canada 150 Research Chair in New Media in the School of Communication. She has studied both Systems Design Engineering and English Literature, which she combines and mutates in her current work on digital media. She is author of Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (MIT, 2006), Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (MIT 2011), Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media (MIT 2016), and co-author of Pattern Discrimination (University of Minnesota + Meson Press 2019). She has been Professor and Chair of the Department of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, where she worked for almost two decades and where she’s currently a Visiting Professor. She has also been a Visiting Scholar at the Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania, Member of the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), and she has held fellowships from: the Guggenheim, ACLS, American Academy of Berlin, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She has been a Visiting Professor at AI Now at NYU, the Velux Visiting Professor of Management, Politics and Philosophy at the Copenhagen Business School; the Wayne Morse Chair for Law and Politics at the University of Oregon, Visiting Professor at Leuphana University (Luneburg, Germany), and a Visiting Associate Professor in the History of Science Department at Harvard, of which she is an Associate.