Call for abstracts: Revaluing expertise: troubling automated practices and human competences, May 15-16, 2024

The conference will include keynote lectures, paper presentations and panel discussions as well as non-conventional conference formats. Please submit your paper abstract by March 22, 2024.

Revaluing expertise: troubling automated practices and human competences

University of Helsinki, May 15-16, 2024

Confirmed keynote speakers: Alison Powell (LSE), Maja Hojer Bruun (Aarhus University)

Large language models and the introduction of ChatGPT have sparked intense debates about expertise and knowledge work, raising questions such as “Will machines perform the tasks of experts in the future?” or “What are the most critical skills for humans to possess in the midst of AI developments?” These and related questions have an established history that this two-day conference will highlight by exploring forms of expertise and knowledge formation in the context of automation processes and AI. As various scholars have demonstrated, digitally-mediated expertise has disrupted and reorganised work practices in fields ranging from health and law to media and education. Since similar processes are at play across different contexts, we can detect common patterns of adjustment and resistance in how people are forming and protecting their work processes and work identities in the face of the pressure to adopt algorithmic systems.     

A widely recognised way to study changes in expertise is to explore them as processes of deskilling and reskilling, identifying qualitative and material reshaping of competence and its valuation. We will depart from this conventional framing and trace emerging skills and capabilities, attuned senses and automated suggestions and convictions to know and do, across different sectors of society. This allows us to pose questions about the broader landscape of automation, and how to combine and rework its practices with human sensory and interpretive competences. We are interested in what is shared, but also what is different across forms of digital expertise and knowledge formation, particularly in response to clashes with existing practices, values, and routines in the workplace and beyond.     

One approach to this investigation is to examine how people make sense of developments in AI and algorithmic systems and trouble their professional autonomy and expertise. Alternatively, we can view contemporary algorithmic advancements through the lens of distributed agency between people and machines, inquiring into how types of expertise contribute to the development and deployment of algorithmic systems. By analysing various forms and qualities of agency, we can identify the social and political arrangements that support and hinder alignments between machinic ways of knowing with human sensory and interpretive competences. This allows us to explore how social and political arrangements obstruct the combining of human and machinic forms of expertise, and disregard existing forms of knowledge formation. As we hope to demonstrate in this conference, the study of expertise calls for thinking about the most fruitful methods and conceptual framings for uncovering ongoing developments, acknowledging that knowledge work is thoroughly shaped by the political-economic landscape and emerging technologies.

 We invite conceptual, empirical and methodological contributions to address at least one of the following questions:

  • How do social and political arrangements promote, facilitate or hinder the integration of human and machinic forms of expertise and knowledge work?
  • How do broader changes in the landscape of expertise, driven by datafication and algorithmic logic, shape valuation and recognition of skills, capabilities and forms of expertise? 
  • How does automation and algorithmic mediation affect the role and significance of embodied, sensory knowledge in various contexts? 
  • In what ways do individual, organisational and societal responses to automation reflect shifts in skill sets, expertise reconfiguration, or resistance to changes in professional roles?
  • What societal, organisational and interpersonal dynamics emerge to maintain the relevance and meaningfulness of human sociality and expertise in the face of increasing automation and algorithmic decision-making?

The conference will include keynote lectures, paper presentations and panel discussions as well as non-conventional conference formats. Please submit your paper abstract (max. 250 words) to The selection of presenters will be based on the quality of work and its relevance to the questions the conference addresses. 

Important dates: 

Deadline for the submission of abstract: March 22, 2024. 

Notification of paper acceptance: March 31, 2024.

Registration: April 1 - April 30, 2024. 

​​Conference: May 15 - 16, 2024

The conference is sponsored by Re-humanising automated decision-making (Research Council of Finland) and Reimagining Public Values in Algorithmic Futures (CHANSE) - projects led by Professor Minna Ruckenstein.