One of the things I do since a number of years is to partake in the multi-disciplinary and cross-sectorial Technology, Institutions and Change working group of the major independent Swedish humanities and social science research funder Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, RJ. This groups is involved in a number of initiatives, among these book projects, research network funding, support of research education and conference-organisation. Within this context, members expose one another to aspects of the group theme, and initiate educational forays by site-visits to relevant research environments. A number of these inspired political scientist Urban Strandberg and me to start pondering some of the more visionary sides of a wave of so-called Big Data approaches which have been flooding both the sciences and the humanities in recent years. In particular, we centred on the most ambitious research visions with regard to areas of scientific and humanities inquiry into the basic aspects of humanity, society and their respective natures, where cross-disciplinary big data approaches have been held out promises of groundbreaking advances on basic challenges, such as bridging the gaps between the subjective and the objective perspectives on human experience, the individual/singular and collective/general aspects of society, and the materialistic and abstract stances of perceiving the essence of human and social nature. To address these visions and perceptions and – let's admit it – hopes and fears, with a simultaneously critical and constructive eye, we ventured to assemble, with the kind support of RJ, a selected multi-disciplinary and qualified assembly of researchers – and to some extent artists – all working in fields related to the grand Big Data visions, with philosophy, computer science, robotics, anthropology and neuroscience as some of the base disciplines.
The result is the symposium:
To make things manageable, we had to make the event invite only, but starting 9:30 CET the entire event will be streamed live on the web, here. More information, the program, abstracts, speaker presentations and more can be accessed here. Later, edited versions of the presentations will be made available as online videos. Please, spread the word! And if you're interested in the subject, don't hesitate to drop in virtually and become part of the flood of big data making up the core of the symposium's subject matter!