The Algorithmic Self Workshop

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On Friday 27th of January, we hosted a workshop focused on self-tracking and quantification. The workshop dealt with two main questions:

  • How does self-tracking and quantification affect our self understanding?
  • How does self-tracking and quantification affect how we are governed (by ourselves, our lovers, our friends and our employers)?

To answer these questions, we brought together four speakers to deal with the practice of self-tracking in four different domains of personal life. You can watch the talks below:

1. Why the Algorithmic Self? (Introduction)

This was an introductory talk by John Danaher (NUIG) explaining the origins of the Algocracy and Transhumanism Project and the purposes behind this particular workshop.

2. The Algorithmic Self at Play (Jane Walsh – NUIG)

Dr Jane Walsh from the mHealth research cluster at NUIG spoke about the rise of self-tracking and wearables in health and fitness. She looked at the explosion in this technology in the recent past, the lack of evidence for its effectiveness in changing behaviour, and the potential risks that arise from its use.

3. The Algorithmic Self at Work (Phoebe Moore – MDX)

Dr Phoebe Moore from Middlesex University spoke about her research on quantified self practices in the workplace. She explained how contemporary practices tie into the history of scientific management techniques and how they connect with trends toward agility and precarity in the modern workforce. She also presented data from a British Academy/Leverhulme research project she did (with Lukasz Piwek and Ian Roper) with a Dutch company.

4. The Algorithmic Self in Love (John Danaher – NUIG)

Dr John Danaher from NUIG spoke about self-tracking in intimate relationships. He presented some of the main arguments from a paper he is writing with Sven Nyholm (TUE) and Brian Earp (Yale/Oxford) entitled ‘The Quantified Relationship’. The paper deals with eight objections to the practice of intimate quantification and makes the case for cautious optimism about this technology.

5. The Algorithmic Self as Citizen (John Morison – QUB)

Professor John Morison from Queen’s University Belfast spoke about the practices of tracking and surveillance in the political sphere. His talk focused in particular on the consequences of algorithmic governance for citizenship and politics, arguing that it could spell the death of the liberal democractic subject.

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