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Open call for participants

  • WHAT: 2020 Summer School on the Histories of AI: A Genealogy of Power (A Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar)
  • WHEN: 12–18 July 2020
  • WHERE: University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • OTHER: Travel and accommodation funding available. Closing date 16 March.

The University of Cambridge is hosting a Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Histories of AI: A Genealogy of Power from May 2020–April 2021. The Seminar is co-hosted by the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, and the Faculty of English. Sawyer Seminars support comparative research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments. This Seminar aims to develop an international interpretive community capable of offering a structural, historical perspective on the promises and problematics of AI and machine learning.

This new community will include participants from a variety of fields and backgrounds including activists, AI practitioners, artists, citizens, critical theorists, decolonial scholars, historians of science and technology, and scholars of race, gender, and disability studies. We will engage in critical and comparative research, from antiquity to the present, on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments in AI technologies to investigate their entanglement in systems of politics, power and control. Four themes will guide our considerations: hidden labour, encoded behaviour, cognitive injustice and disingenuous rhetoric. These themes direct our inquiry without narrowing the contributions we plan to support.

The Seminar's activities include a week long Summer School at Homerton College, Cambridge, with arrival and a welcome dinner on Sunday 12 and meeting from Monday 13 to Saturday 18 July 2020.

We are opening applications to participate in the Summer School. Accommodation and subsistence is provided for all participants from Sunday 12 to Saturday 18 July inclusive. Participants in full-time employment would ordinarily be expected to cover their own travel costs, although some stipends are available on a needs basis. Travel bursaries will be available to a small number of UK and international students.

The following keynotes are confirmed (alphabetically):

Each day of the Summer School will include a variety of sessions including a workshop on participant research comprising short papers and discussion, seminars on core literature selected from across historical periods and/or critical theories, a keynote lecture, and a focused session on relevant disciplinary theories and methods. We aim to foster the intellectual development of research in this field, creating a cross-disciplinary toolkit that engages the histories of AI.

When completing the application, please both indicate the relevance of your research to the aims of the Seminar, and offer practical suggestions of how you might contribute to the Summer School's activities, for instance by delivering a short paper, leading a core text seminar, offering relevant theories and or methods training, or other suggested contributions or activities.

To register your interest in participating in the Summer School, please complete the application form.

Deadline for applications: 16 March 2020
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