Keynotes – Digital Futures in the Making

von | Sep 12, 2022

Débora Lanzeni (Monash University): “Ethnographic tales on AI, Data and Dark Futures: What should Anthropology do with the digital agenda of the ‘others’?”

What is digital future-making? How do we understand theoretically and ethnographically digital processes surrounding our fieldwork and research problems? How should anthropologists deal with digital futures played out in front of us?

These are questions that I will address from my trajectory in technological design, imagination and future of work understandings. I will draw in the ethnographic projects that I am currently involved in on the ‘digitalization’ of work in service platforms and the health industry.

Short Bio

Dr Debora Lanzeni is an anthropologist working hard to build a common ground for interdisciplinary tech studies. Her research lies on the intersection of technology, anthropology, design, digital ethnography and future studies. Data, artificial intelligence (AI) and smart cities are key themes in recent years. Debora’s interests are focused on the development of emerging technologies and future imaginaries, as well as work regimes and new digital technologies. Recent projects include Transliteracy and Unlocking Digital Assets.

With a PhD and a Master in Knowledge and Information Society (IN3-UOC), a Bachelor in Anthropology and a DEA in Political Anthropology from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Debora trained as a filmmaker and taught for 5 years in Methodology and Media Anthropology in the University of Buenos Aires.

Read Debora’s full profile .

Maya Indira Ganesh (University of Cambridge): “Forgetting and remembering how to make knowledge and culture in AI times“

My talk begins with identifying shifts occurring at the intersection of knowledge-production, the digital, and culture. Applications of machine learning (ML) technologies to research are revealing the depth of the reproducibility crisis in Science. Large natural language and image-generation models reveal, ironically, the limits of language for the cognition and relationality emerging through these technologies; and how we are in thrall to narratives and metaphors of AI as either tool or threat to humans. In parallel, decoloniality as epistemology and as methodology evolves through challenge and discussion. It calls out modern knowledge-making about the human that has relied on a problematic naming of the nonhuman, which ‘AI’ dutifully replicates. Drawing on my cultural research about AI, autonomous vehicles, and recent writing and teaching about the new industrial product, ‘AI ethics’, I will talk about the place of the cultural scientist in making Humanities-situated knowledge about the digital, technology, and culture.

Short Bio

Dr. (des) Maya Indira Ganesh is Course Co-leader (MSt) of the Master of AI Ethics and Society programme at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI). She is a media and digital cultures theorist, researcher, and writer who has worked with arts and cultural organisations, academia, and NGOs. She earned a Drphil in Cultural Sciences from Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany in 2022. Her doctoral work examined the re-shaping of what we mean by the ‘ethical’ and the shifting role of the human in the emergence of the driverless car. Maya’s dissertation investigates what initiatives for governance of such a complex technology implies for human social relations, spaces, and bodies.

Prior to academic work Maya spent 15 years working at the intersection of gender justice, digital security and data privacy, and digital freedom of expression in a variety of global regions. Hence her work has consistently brought questions of power, justice, and global inequality to those of the body, the digital, and knowledge. She continues to be associated with feminist movements in Asia, and works with arts and cultural organisations in Germany.

Read Maya’s full profile.