Contemplating Borders: From Machine Learning to the Environment

Contemplating Borders: From Machine Learning to the Environment

Contemplating Borders: From Machine Learning to the Environment 1024 576 Barbara Del Mercato

4th June 2021, 3.00 PM (CEST)

A ECLT / HSC Joint Seminar. The European Centre for Living Technology and the Center for the Humanities and Social Change


Contemplating Borders: From Machine Learning to the Environment

with  Ifor Duncan (HSC), Francesca Foffano (ECLT), Emiliano Guaraldo (HSC), Teresa Scantamburlo (ECLT)

To participate via Zoom, please use this link.


This joint seminar intends to critically address the common ethical problem of bordering from different disciplinary perspectives. Firstly, the session will consider how geophysical environments have been co-opted, both directly and indirectly, as infrastructures of the border. Secondly, by considering how biometric data and machine learning is used to categorise minority groups. Finally, by presenting recent work by artist-researcher Hito Steyerl, the session will address the limits and political implications of the introduction of AI-based technologies as policy-making tools. By considering borders in these ways we intend to critically question what is meant by borders and ask how the humanities and computer sciences can contribute to a common discourse regarding borders, migration and asylum.

Bio sketch

Ifor Duncan
is a writer and inter-disciplinary researcher whose research concerns the relationships between political violence and watery spaces and materialities. He completed his PhD at the Centre for Research Architecture (CRA), Goldsmiths, University of London, where he developed the concept of necro-hydrology, which addresses the ways hydrologic properties are instrumentalised through border regimes, as technologies of obfuscation, and weaponised against marginalised communities. His current research project, Submergences, proposes to explore the ways hydrologic knowledges and practices can be mobilised to imagine alternate strategies of resistance against such forms of environmental weaponisation.

Francesca Foffano
received her Master in Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Trento, and previously her Bachelor in Psychology at the University of Padua. During her studies, she collaborates with the research centre for Analysis and Design of Intelligent Agents at Reykavik University. Her research interest is in the user’ understanding and perception of AI, social and ethical influences, and a definition of more human-centric design approaches.

Emiliano Guaraldo
Emiliano Guaraldo’s research focuses on the visual culture of the Anthropocene, with a particular interest in the relationship between contemporary art and the production of technical and scientific images. He obtained a PhD in Italian Studies from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Center for the Humanities and Social Change at Ca’ Foscari, Emiliano worked at the University of St. Gallen as a research assistant and public lecturer in Italian literature and culture.

Teresa Scantamburlo
Her main research interests lay at the intersection of Computer Science and Philosophy and include the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on human-decision making, the role of data and algorithms in social regulation, and the ethical assessment of AI systems. She is also interested in studying AI from the point of view of epistemology and the philosophy of science (e.g. some topics of interest include the problem of induction, the problem-solving approach and the notion of progress).

This event is part of the Environmental Humanities Seminar and Lecture Series – V