Enric Senabre (Austrian Academy of Sciences); Eveline Wandl-Vogt (Austrian Academy of Sciences / Ars Electronica k4h); Matthew Battles (metaLAB (at) Harvard)

virPrague 20: Big Data, Information Sciences, Technosphere

How can society's awareness and resilience around the operation and impact of algorithms be collaboratively expanded? From a cultural but also transdisciplinary perspective, there’s still a general lack of knowledge about how algorithms surround us and determine everyday life in many areas, invisibly and secretly operating through our progressively digitized contexts. Although algorithms increasingly determine citizen’s lives, as well as opportunities for innovation in cities, their usual articulation for progress and efficiency can present great bias, errors and counter effects. Algorithms represent a complex epistemic challenge: operating in close interrelation with data structures they constitute a core aspect of today’s culture, while the fast pace of its technological development requires new strategies for research and knowledge transfer to society.

From a digital humanism-centered approach there’s the opportunity of addressing this issue by an inventarium perspective, contributing to ongoing research discussing how to make existing and possible algorithms more visible and explicit. On the one hand, opening a participatory process at the intersection between action research and citizen science in order to locate, dissect, classify and examine algorithms species operating behind apps, platforms and other digital tools, in an effort to articulate discovery and discussions beyond the mere mathematical and logical perspectives on algorithms. On the other hand, the inventarium concept also allows to experiment with a co-creation approach, based on principles of participatory design, for a series of workshops and interventions for generating novel questions, policies and even the formulation of new algorithms as cultural artifacts themselves.