Post Tagged with: "sts"

On the Promise of AlphaGo

On the Promise of AlphaGo

  Games are an old venue for the development of AI programs, and have been part of the AI repertoire since the beginnings of the field. Turing wrote about games in his 1948 paper “Intelligent Machinery,” in which he suggested chess, noughts and crosses, bridge, and poker as among the games to teach machines. Why the focus on games that foreground disembodied mental activity? Because a “thinking machine” constructed in the image of a man would be “a tremendous undertaking” and therefore would be “altogether too slow and impractical” a research project (p. 39). Minksy, in the introduction to the […]

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 […]

+STS-Meeting: Spatial STS

+STS-Meeting: Spatial STS

Cambridge (MA), October 22nd, 2014. What is the place of space in Science & Technology Studies (STS)? This was the key question that the cross-STS Working Group discussed in its October 2014 meeting, suggesting that space emerges as an increasingly important and explicitly analyzed category. Robin Scheffler, who is currently a visiting scholar at the Cantabrigian American Academy of Arts and Sciences and will join MIT’s Program in STS next year, led the discussion. Building on a pre-circulated reading (Finnegan 2008), he provided a sketch of the place of space in seminal STS works from the past 30 years to […]

Dissertation Review: Mathematical Professionalization in Mid-Century America

Dissertation Review: Mathematical Professionalization in Mid-Century America

Historical studies on scientists in the Cold War university have surged in recent years. Perhaps more significantly, research on this topic has diversified. Recently described by Steven Shapin in one instance, “it was immediately understood that it was the natural scientists and engineers who had departed the Ivory Tower en masse, leaving the humanities and most of the human sciences behind” during the Cold War. The options of federal contracts and grants implied an alternative to university support to which scientists could turn. But whereas many twentieth-century treatments were content to leave conclusions at that, more recent scholars—such as David […]

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 […]