CM Seminar - "Discriminating Data: Correlation, Neighborhoods, and the New Politics of Recognition"

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

Join us on Zoom:

Description: In this seminar, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Simon Fraser University's Canada 150 research chair in new media, will discuss themes from her new book Discriminating Data (published November 2, 2021, MIT Press) about how big data and predictive machine learning currently encode discrimination and create agitated clusters of comforting rage. Chun will explore how polarization is a goal—not an error—within current practices of predictive data analysis and machine learning for these methods 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. The predictive programs thus seek to disrupt the future by making disruption impossible.

Speaker bio: Wendy Hui Kyong Chun is Simon Fraser University’s Canada 150 research chair in new media and leads the Digital Democracies Institute. She is the author of several works, including 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), Discriminating Data (MIT, 2021), and the 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. 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, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.