9th June 2013

Calculative Devices in the Digital Age

Department of Geography
Durham University
21-22 November 2013

Keynote speakers (tbc): Prof. Pat O’Malley (Sydney) Prof. Marieke de Goede (Amsterdam) Prof. Rita Raley (UCSB)

The Securing gainst Future Events project is organizing a two day conference on the forms and techniques of calculation that emerge with digital computation. How does the drive to make sense of, and productively use, large amounts of diverse data, inform the development of new calculative devices, logics and techniques? How do these devices, logics and techniques – from neural networks to decision trees, from Monte Carlo method to traversal algorithms, from text analytics to data visualisation – affect our capacity to decide and act? In a world of changing data landscapes, how do mundane elements of our physical and virtual existence become data to be analysed and rearranged in complex ensembles of people and things? In what ways are conventional notions of public and private, individual and population, certainty and probability, rule and exception transformed and what are the consequences of these transformations? How does the search for ‘hidden’ connections and patterns using association rules, correlation rules or link analysis, change our understanding of social relations and associative life? Do contemporary modes of calculation, based on constant incorporation of heterogeneous elements, produce new thresholds of calculability and computability, allowing for the improbable or the merely possible to be embraced and acted upon? As contemporary approaches to governing uncertain futures seek to anticipate the yet unknown event – in domains as diverse as marketing and insurance, emergency preparedness and counter-terrorism – how are calculation and decision engaged anew?

The conference will be oriented to the following key themes:

– Data and calculation – algorithms and algorithmic logics
– Associative life – ‘real’ and digital identities and social relations
– Data, analytics and decision-making – applications, interfaces, protocols
– Calculating futures – uncertainty, prediction and potentiality

As the changing landscape of calculation is experienced across the arts, social and natural sciences, we are inviting papers from across disciplines and areas of specialism. Interventions from PhD students and junior scholars are particularly welcome.

The event is funded within Prof. Louise Amoore’s ESRC Global Uncertainties Fellowship (www.securitysfutures.org) and is free to attend. Please submit contact details and a 250 word abstract to volha.piotukh@durham.ac.uk, with a copy to louise.amoore@durham.ac.uk, by August 1st 2013.