Post Tagged with: "science and technology studies"

A Few Thoughts on the Recent Google Car “Crash”

A Few Thoughts on the Recent Google Car “Crash”

As someone who studies automated vehicles, I have had a number of people send me links about the recently publicized “first” at-fault Google car crash (see this article for example). This is actually a really interesting situation, and presents a good moment to comment on a couple of important issues. First: As I wrote about in my M.S. thesis last spring, the notion of responsibility becomes more difficult to pin down in distributed and hybrid systems of humans and machines. Around this time, the frequency of Google car accidents came to light, with the inevitable comparisons to human accident rates […]

Trusting Experts: How to reconcile STS and social psychology in the case of King. Vs. Burwell

[A modified version of a post that I wrote here on my personal blog.] In a few weeks, the US Supreme Court will hand down what could possibly be a historic decision in the case King vs. Burwell.  The case concerns the Obama Administration’s signature healthcare legislation: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes just called the ACA or Obamacare (though this term is often used pejoratively by its opponents). The ACA rests on three pillars: regulations about the content and cost of a health insurance plan, the individual mandate that makes it compulsory for every resident to buy […]

MyIdol, Your Avatar, Playful Surveillance, & Ubiquitous Facial Recognition

MyIdol, Your Avatar, Playful Surveillance, & Ubiquitous Facial Recognition

Ever wanted to see what you’d look like with blue hair? In a bright red suit? How about pole-dancing in a panda costume? A new, free, iPhone app called “MyIdol” has captivated the likes of Conan O’Brien, Miley Cyrus, and all of my friends. The app, by Chinese company Huanshi Ltd., generates a 3-D avatar from any facial image that you enter. Based on the instructions given (which are in Chinese, although that hasn’t stopped thousands of users) you can take a selfie, input the image, and the software will begin to match vector points on your face to produce […]

Big Data, Boundary Work and Computer Science

Big Data, Boundary Work and Computer Science

4S 2013 was full of “big data” panels (Tom Boellstorff has convinced me to not capitalize the term).  Many of these talks were critiques; the authors saw big data as a new form of positivism, and the rhetoric of big data as a sort of false consciousness that was sweeping the sciences. 1 But what do scientists think of big data? In a blog-post titled “The Big Data Brain Drain: Why Science is in Trouble,”  physicist Jake VanderPlas (his CV lists his interests as “Astronomy” and “Machine Learning”) makes the argument that the real reason big data is dangerous is because […]