University of Waterloo
Engineering 5 (E5), 6th Floor
Phone: 519-888-4567 ext.32600
In her most recent book, Discriminating Data (2021), Wendy 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.
A panel of students and professors will talk with Wendy about the implications of discrimination in data and the ways we can work together to reduce the negative effects of the technologies we design.
About the speaker
Wendy Hui Kyong Chun is Simon Fraser University's Canada 150 Research Chair in New Media in the School of Communication and Director of the Digital Democracies Institute. She studied both Systems Design Engineering and English Literature at the University of Waterloo, disciplines that combine and mutate in her work on digital media. Her recent books include Discriminating Data: Correlation, Neighborhoods, and the New Politics of Recognition (2021), Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media (2016), and Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (2011).
Professor Marcel O'Gorman, University Research Chair, professor of English, and founding director of the Critical Media Lab (CML), University of Waterloo. Professor O'Gorman leads collaborative design projects and teaches courses and workshops in the philosophy of technology at the CML, which is located at the Communitech Hub. The role of the CML is to disseminate a philosophy of "tech for good."
Brianna I. Wiens (she/her) is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Communication Arts at the University of Waterloo and co-director of the collaborative, an intersectional feminist design lab. Her interdisciplinary work draws on her mixed-race queer activist-scholar experience to explore the digitally and culturally mediated phenomena of networked social movements and the politics of their design.
Queenie Wu (she/her) is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Her experience in digital product design influences her curiosity regarding the impacts of data and research processes on social systems through various lenses - including data journalism and urban planning.