Machine Habitus: Toward a Sociology of Algorithms

Monthly dialogues and critical perspectives on artificial intelligence, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), participatory design, and crisis-related research for societal impact.
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A recording of the talk can be found below:

Event is hybrid. Participants may attend in person (T2, Computer Science Building, Aalto University) or online on Zoom.

Massimo Airoldi

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of Social and Political Sciences University of Milan

Talk Abstract: 

Machine Habitus: Toward a Sociology of Algorithms (Polity, 2021) articulates a theory of machine learning systems as socialized agents contributing to the (techno-)social reproduction of cultural patterns and inequalities. Building on a multidisciplinary literature in critical algorithm studies, media research and computer science, Airoldi discusses how research on algorithmic bias would benefit from a sociological perspective aimed to unpack the recursive mechanisms linking the “culture in the code” – i.e., the social shaping of machine learning – and the “code in the culture” – i.e., the algorithmic shaping of society. The notion of “machine habitus”, inspired by the influential work of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, illuminates how socially rooted cultural propensities embedded in data orient the allegedly neutral classificatory behavior of AI systems, with important yet understudied consequences on consumption, public opinion, culture and social life more generally.

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Speaker Bio: 

Massimo Airoldi is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Department of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Milan. Previously he worked as researcher and Assistant Professor at the Lifestyle Research Center of EM Lyon Business School. His research interests include the social implications of AI, the platformization of consumption and public opinion, computational methods, and consumer culture.


Critical AI & Crisis Interrogatives (CRAI-CIS) Seminar
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