The meeting will analyze the effects of big data in human and life sciences as well as in the development of new technologies from a historical, ethnographical and critical perspective. Experts with various backgrounds will address the impact, application, promises and controversies related to them.
Since the first Swiss STS Meeting in Zürich in 1999, several conferences have been organized with the Swiss Association for the Study of Science, Technology and Society (STS-CH), like the STS Summer School 2001 in Lausanne, the EASST conference 2006 in Lausanne, the Swiss STS Meeting 2008 ScienceFutures in Zurich, the Science Going Neuro Conference 2010 in Basel. STS-CH intends to encourage and promote the social, historical and philosophical study of the sciences in Switzerland.
The next Swiss STS Meeting, to be held 20-22 February 2014 at the University of Lausanne, is devoted to the subject of big data, of scientific projects based on the production, management and analysis of very large quantities of data. Creating biobanks, statistical processing of behavior and ways of life of large cohorts, computerized modeling of cerebral functioning or human genome sequencing are research practices that a priori seem to bear witness to new ways of doing science. They raise novel questions as to their impact and the concrete applications they promise both in social and sanitary politics as well as in the development of new technologies. This meeting attempts to scrutinize the notion of big and its effects (conceptual, rhetoric and practical) in the human and life sciences through two lines of thought: Does the processing of large quantities of data give way to more reliable, useful, efficient, convincing and implementable explanations or does it generate new problems? How do the fabrication modes and tools of big data differ from the ones employed in the production of atlases, encyclopedias, censuses or other collections of information in the 19th and 20th centuries?
We invite participants to discuss the concrete stages of the fabrication and usage of big data, and the problems each of these steps might raise: collecting, discriminating, sharing, sorting, touching, seeing, visualizing, choosing algorithms, conserving, standardizing, applying, etc. The meeting intends to encourage contributions that adopt a historical, ethnographical, critical and reflexive perspective and that suggest comparison of ways of collecting and analyzing large quantities of data. The Swiss STS Meeting will last three days, and will host plenary sessions, roundtables, and paper sessions. It proposes to bring together keynote speakers of the field and young STS scholars (PhD candidates and postdoc).
The goal of STS-CH is to promote the socio-political, historical and epistemological study of the sciences in Switzerland by organizing conferences and facilitating contacts among scholars. Activities include the co-organization of local STS-events, international symposia and Swiss STS meetings.
Feel free to visit our website: www.sagw.ch/sts-ch.