14.5. NRC Lecture with Maja Hojer Bruun: Engaging publics in emerging technologies through experimental ethnographic interventions

14.5.2024 15.00–17.00 at HSSH Seminar room 524, Fabianinkatu 24, 5th floor (access via courtyard).

14.5.2024 15.00–17.00 at HSSH Seminar room 524, Fabianinkatu 24, 5th floor (access via courtyard). Zoom link for remote participants.

Time and again, the introduction of new technologies has had disruptive effects on educational institutions, workplaces, different forms of social interaction, and whole societies. Not only are political bodies and regulatory frameworks lagging behind the pace with which new technologies are introduced but so are public conversations and awareness in general. It seems that the well-known forms of public engagement and discourse, e.g. political debates and hearings or consultations with experts or lay people, do not reach those issues that over time turn into large-scale social problems. One could claim that the reason is that we cannot predict how emerging technologies will affect our everyday lives, as long as they are not there, full-scale and over a long time.

In this talk, I argue that we need new forms of social inquiry that simulate practical, everyday settings to study emerging human-machine interactions and to open new forms of conversation and debate. I draw on examples from my own ethnographic experimentations with emerging technologies, including drones, emerging data infrastructures, AI and large language models, where I engage citizens, students, and employees on their own turf.

Maja Hojer Bruun is Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Anthropology in the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University where she convenes the Research Program Future Technology, Culture and Learning Processes. She is editor of the Palgrave Handbook of the Anthropology of Technology (2022). She has published widely on emerging digital technologies (robots, drones, cryptographic technologies, information infrastructures, AI), based on ethnographic studies and interventions. In her current research she focuses on the interprofessional collaborations and new forms of expertise that go into the development of automatic and algorithmic systems and on the use of large language models in higher education.

Maja Hojer Bruun is a Visiting Professor at HSSH in 2024.

Commentator: Risto Kunelius, Director of HSSH, Professor of Media and Communications

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