Revaluing Expertise: Troubling Automated Practices and Human Competences

Welcome to the Revaluing Expertise: Troubling Automated Practices and Human Competences conference that takes place at the University of Helsinki, May 15-16, 2024.
Revaluing Expertise: Troubling Automated Practices and Human Competences

Keynote speakers: Alison Powell (LSE) & Maja Hojer Bruun (Aarhus University)

Registration: Sign up here by April 30

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.


A more detailed programme will be published closer to the event and sent to the registered participants. 


Day 1, May 15

Room: Tekla Hultin (F3003, Fabianinkatu 33, 3rd floor)

08:30 Coffee and light breakfast

09:00 Welcome: Minna Ruckenstein (professor, University of Helsinki)

09:15 Keynote: Alison Powell (associate professor, LSE)

10:05 Session 1: Human expertise and creativity revisited

11:45 Session 2: The quest of human traits and qualities

13:15 Lunch

14:15 Session 3: Uncertainty as a lens to automation

15:45 Coffee

16:00-18:00 Parallel workshops*:

  1. DEDA Workshop in English (F3005, Fabianinkatu 33, 3rd floor)
  2. DEDA Workshop in Finnish (F3004, Fabianinkatu 33, 3rd floor)

19:00 Dinner


Day 2, May 16

Room: Tekla Hultin (F3003, Fabianinkatu 33, 3rd floor)

08:30 Coffee and light breakfast

09:00 Introduction to the second day

09:15 Keynote: Maja Hojer Bruun (associate professor, Aarhus University)

10:05 Session 4: New tools, professions, and epic disappointments

11:45 Session 5: Arranging and experimenting with workflows, interaction, and interpretation

13:15 Lunch

14:15 Session 6: Researchers and activists combatting inadequate, false, and low quality information

15: 45 Coffee

16:30 Panel discussion: Minna Mustakallio (Head of Responsible Artificial Intelligence, YLE), Oskar Korkman (co-founder, Alice Labs), Heli Rantavuo (Head of Customer Insight, OP Financial Group), and María Teresa Ballestar (Head of Analytical Consultants, Google).


*The conference will include two workshops (one in English and one in Finnish) where participants can experiment the Data Ethics Decision Aid (DEDA) - a discussion-based tool developed to examine the values and ethical tensions that may occur in data projects. Both workshops will take place on May 15th at 16:00-18:00. Participation in the workshop requires a bit of prior work, which will take approximately 30 minutes. The instructions will be sent to the participants after the registration has ended (April 30).

More information on DEDA in English

More information on DEDA in Finnish


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.