Pattern Discrimination

Clemens Apprich
Fine Arts and Media Art, Media Theory
2021S, scientific seminar (SEW), 2.0 ECTS, 1.0 semester hours, course number S03778

Description

How do ‘human’ prejudices re-emerge in algorithmic cultures allegedly devised to be blind to them? To answer this question, this seminar investigates a fundamental axiom in data analytics: pattern discrimination. By imposing identity on input data, in order to filter – that is, to discriminate – signals from noise, patterns become a highly political issue. Hence, in this course, we will look into the politics of pattern discrimination and discuss their relation to datafication and digital cultures. We will engage with algorithmic identity politics which reinstate old forms of social segregation, such as class, race, and gender, and develop a critical vocabulary to better understand them.

In this course, we will discuss key issues related to datafication and machine learning, including (among others): classification and dataism, data politics and dataveillance, as well as filter algorithms and recommendation systems. Drawing on the work of contemporary thinkers writing on these issues, the course aims to critically engage with the politics of data analytics, the consequences of big and small data, as well as activist and artistic practices dealing with data. 

Examination Modalities

The class activity will centre around close interactive reading of texts and debates around the specific arguments forwarded in them. In order to facilitate productive in-class discussions, I ask you to read and annotate the texts beforehand. To collaboratively engage with the assigned literature, we will use the open-source annotation tool Hypothesis (https://web.hypothes.is).

Final Essay (Englisch or German): Students will be responsible for a research paper due at the end of term. The research paper should be similar in scope and format to a scholarly conference paper (ca. 20.000 characters, including spaces and footnotes, but excluding appendices, references, or figures). The first deadline for the research paper is July 19, the final deadline is November 22, 2021.

A course outline with the teaching material will be made available online.

Comments

The seminar will be held in English and is blocked.

An OA book on the topic can be found here: https://meson.press/books/pattern-discrimination

Key Words

pattern discrimination, data bias, algorithmic filtering, digital cultures, activist and artistic practices

Dates

14 May 2021, 14:00–16:30, "Online via Zoom."
15 May 2021, 09:00–12:30, "Online via Zoom"
11 June 2021, 14:00–17:30, "Online via Zoom"
12 June 2021, 09:00–11:30, "Online via Zoom"

Course Enrolment

From 14 April 2021, 17:37
Via online registration

co-registration: possible

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