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Humanist Archives: March 1, 2021, 7:01 a.m. Humanist 34.246 - pubs: lives of data in India; cfp: prediction without explanation in ML

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 246.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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    [1]    From: Geert Lovink <>
           Subject: Lives of Data: Essays on Computational Cultures from India (50)

    [2]    From: Florian J. Boge <fjboge@GMAIL.COM>
           Subject: Minds & Machines Special Issue on "Machine Learning: Prediction Without Explanation?" (108)

        Date: 2021-03-01 06:48:03+00:00
        From: Geert Lovink <>
        Subject: Lives of Data: Essays on Computational Cultures from India

Sarai in Delhi and the Institute of Network Cultures (Amsterdam) are
excited to announce the publication of Lives of Data: Essays on
Computational Cultures from India

"This remarkable collection is the first major portrait and assessment
of the social and technical relationalities that constitute the ecology
of big data in India today. Equally remarkably, the authors represent
the first generation of scholars of digital media who speak through an
Indian lens while being totally conversant with the cutting edge of
global scholarship on big data.’ — Arjun Appadurai, Goddard Professor of
Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University

"Wide-ranging and incisive, Lives of Data is essential reading for those
who wish to understand the seductions and contingencies of being or
becoming data-driven." — Lisa Gitelman, author, Paper Knowledge and
editor, ‘Raw Data’ Is an Oxymoron

Lives of Data maps the historical and emergent dynamics of big data,
computing, and society in India. Data infrastructures are now more
global than ever before. In much of the world, new sociotechnical
possibilities of big data and artificial intelligence are unfolding
under the long shadows cast by infra/structural inequalities,
colonialism, modernization, and national sovereignty. This book offers
critical vantage points for looking at big data and its shadows, as they
play out in uneven encounters of machinic and cultural relationalities
of data in India’s socio-politically disparate and diverse contexts.

Lives of Data emerged from research projects and workshops at the Sarai
programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. It is edited by
Sandeep Mertia, PhD candidate at New York University and former Research
Associate, Sarai-CSDS. It brings together fifteen interdisciplinary
scholars and practitioners to set up a collaborative research agenda on
computational cultures. The essays offer wide-ranging analyses of media
and techno-scientific trajectories of data analytics, disruptive
formations of digital economy, and the grounded practices of data-driven
governance in India.Encompassing history, anthropology, science and
technology studies (STS), media studies, civic technology, data science,
digital humanities, and journalism, the essays open up possibilities for
a truly situated global and sociotechnically specific understanding of
the many lives of data.

Download the book as pdf or e-pub, or by a print on demand copy via Lulu
(more news soon about print on demand services in India as well as the
Delhi book launch).

        Date: 2021-03-01 06:46:33+00:00
        From: Florian J. Boge <fjboge@GMAIL.COM>
        Subject: Minds & Machines Special Issue on "Machine Learning: Prediction Without Explanation?"

Extended Deadline: 30 April 2021

Call for Papers for a Minds & Machines Special Issue on

Machine Learning: Prediction Without Explanation?


Over the last decades, Machine Learning (ML) techniques have gained
central prominence in many areas of science. ML typically aims at
pattern recognition and prediction, and in many cases has become a
better tool for these purposes than traditional methods. The downside,
however, is that ML does not seem to provide any explanations, at least
not in the same sense as theories or traditional models do.

This apparent lack of explanation is often also linked to the opacity of
ML techniques, sometimes referred to as the ‘Black Box Challenge’.
Methods such as heat maps or adversarial examples are aimed at reducing
this opacity and opening the black box. But at present, it remains an
open question how and what exactly these methods explain and what the
nature of these explanations is.

While in some areas of science this may not create any interesting
philosophical challenges, in many fields, such as medicine, climate
science, or particle physics, an explanation may be desired; among other
things for the sake of rendering subsequent decisions and policy making
transparent. Moreover, explanation and understanding are traditionally
construed as central epistemic aims of science in general. Does a turn
to ML techniques hence imply a radical shift in the aims of science?
Does it require us to rethink science-based policy making? Or does it
mean we need to rethink our concepts of explanation and understanding?

In this Special Issue, we want to address this complex of questions
regarding explanation and prediction, as it attaches to ML applications
in science and beyond.

We invite papers focusing on but not restricted to the following topics:

•    (How) can ML results be used for the sake of explaining scientific
•    If so, what is the nature of these explanations?
•    Will future science favor prediction above explanation?
•    If so, what does this mean for science-based decision and policy
•    What is explained about ML by methods such as saliency maps and
•    Does ML introduce a shift from classical notions of scientific
explanation, such as causal-mechanistic, covering law-, or
unification-based, towards a purely statistical one?
•    (Why) should we trust ML applications, given their opacity?
•    (Why) should we care about the apparent loss of explanatory power?

The Special Issue is guest edited by members of the project The impact
of computer simulations and machine learning on the epistemic status of
LHC Data, part of the DFG/FWF-funded interdisciplinary research unit
The Epistemology of the Large Hadron Collider

For more information, please visit

Timetable _

Deadline for paper submissions: 30 April 2021
Deadline for paper reviewing: 18 June 2021
Deadline for submission of revised papers: 02 July 2021
Deadline for reviewing revised papers: 06 August 2021
Papers will be published in 2021

_Submission Details_

To submit a paper for this special issue, authors should go to the
journal’s Editorial Manager The author (or a
corresponding author for each submission in case of co- authored papers)
must register into EM.

The author must then select the special article type: "Machine Learning:
Prediction without Explanation?” from the selection provided in the
submission process. This is needed in order to assign the submissions to
the Guest Editor.

Submissions will then be assessed according to the following procedure:
New Submission => Journal Editorial Office => Guest Editor(s) =>
Reviewers => Reviewers’ Recommendations => Guest Editor(s)’
Recommendation => Editor-in-Chief’s Final Decision => Author
Notification of the Decision.

The process will be reiterated in case of requests for revisions.

Guest Editors
Dr. Florian J. Boge, postdoctoral researcher, Interdisciplinary
Centre for Science and Technology Studies (IZWT), Wuppertal University

Paul Grünke, doctoral student, research group “Philosophy of
Engineering, Technology Assessment, and Science”, Institute for
Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Karlsruhe Institute
of Technology (KIT)

Prof. Dr. Dr. Rafaela Hillerbrand, head of the research group
“Philosophy of Engineering, Technology Assessment, and Science”,
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS),
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

For any further information please contact:
-    Dr. Florian J. Boge:
-    Paul Grünke:

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