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Thursday February 6 at 10.00-11.30
Score, Frescativägen 14 A, Stockholm University


Analyzing Algorithms: The Challenge of AI, Big Data and Digitalization for Social Inquiry

Today, algorithms and so-called “Big Data” systems are increasingly producing a plethora of social facts that shape our social lives in profound ways. For instance algorithms are increasingly used to identify risks in society. Today, they are used for things ranging from predicting natural catastrophes, like earthquakes or pandemics, to predict who is a risky person, such as a gambling addict, a loan applicant, a tax-cheater, an AIDS patient, or indeed a migrant being suspected for lying about their age. With this development algorithms, AI, machine learning, and computerized computation become increasingly produce social facts: and people are compelled to accept, challenge, account for, or in other ways relate to these algorithmic classifications. This presentation discusses these developments as challenges for social inquiry. How should social scientists approach the increasing encroachment of algorithms and big data into the making of social facts? How do we do social analysis where we are increasingly becoming quantified, classified, and valued by algorithmic systems? Departing from a few examples of algorithmic risk prediction the paper discusses theoretical and methodological consequences of the algorithmization of society for social analysis.