Pedagogic encounters with algorithmic system controversies: A technical democracy research apparatus

Year: 2021

Author: Swist, Teresa, Gulson, Kalervo

Type of paper: Symposium

Institutions around the world are striving for ways to create computational systems which benefit constituents and mitigate potential harms. With the exponential rise and reach of algorithms, artificial intelligence, and data, the concept of ‘technical democracy’(Callon, Lascoumes, & Barthe 2011) invites people with diverse expertise to tackle sociotechnical controversies via collective learning and experimentation. To explore an assemblage approach to technical democracy, we bring together thinking about algorithmic system controversies, methodological innovation, and public pedagogy. We advance this line of inquiry by introducing a research apparatus framework composed of several pedagogical encounters for reinventing algorithmic systems: deliberation, visualisation, exploration, design, examination, narration, speculation, and refusal. This framework is discussed as a way to open up the ethical, epistemic, and creative possibilities of ‘democratic interventions’ (Feenberg 1999) with diverse publics in a datafied society. We conclude with implications for future research attentive to pedagogical encounters with algorithmic system controversies - characterised by political struggle, knowledge, and reinvention.