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#turnmeon: the role of humans in automated media systems

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New Law Annexe, New Law School Building (F10)

Eastern Avenue

The University of Sydney

Camperdown, NSW 2006

Australia

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#turnmeon: the role of humans in automated media systems

SWARM symposium 2017

Thursday 31st August 2017, Law Lounge, University of Sydney

In 2016, Instagram announced it would alter its news feed, moving from a chronological list to “show the moments we believe you will care about the most”. This new emphasis on its most influential users and images resulted in panicked Instagrammers urging their followers to #turnmeon, to ensure a feed notification was triggered whenever they posted. Their cry for machine visibility is exemplary of the importance algorithms now play in mediating our social relationships, networks and communities. The SWARM 2017 symposium will explore how humans now interact with software in automated media and communications systems, producing what Ted Striphas calls algorithmic culture. Hosted by the Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney, and SWARM 2017, this symposium invites papers and presentations from community managers, programmers and scholars on the future of human mediation in an age of artificial intelligence.

Audience metrics scholar Philip Napoli notes that media industries scholarship has historically devoted much time to understanding the “organisational norms and structures, environmental cognitions, and audience information systems” of media production, but too little attention to its epochal algorithmic turn. Analytics now map media output and its consumption, while chat bots manage consumer relations with brands. Facebook and Twitter have become our default news aggregators, serving up popular topics regardless of their veracity. YouTube and Amazon also use our selections and recommendations to serve us up content we might like to buy. Many websites and apps now integrate natural language processing tools to provide personalisation options, sentiment analysis or code that will civilise, categorise and analyse our communications. These changes highlight the need for researchers to explore the forms and scope of human-machine communicative relations, and their consequences for building and managing online communities.

Typically, community managers engage in what the cognitive sciences call demonstrations of expertise and experience: engaging and including people, negotiating and moderating their interactions, assisting expertise transfer, guiding knowledge acquisition and production, and managing ethical issues in community building. Where an automated media system transfers these tasks to an algorithm assemblage, we might ask: to what extent could it fully take over decision-making or conflict management? What is an algorithm's register of harm or humour? And how might algorithms develop the capacity to build human relationships?

We invite submissions that address any aspect of human-machine relations in automated media and communications systems, on topics that include:

  • The ethics of algorithmic culture
  • Working and playing with chat bots
  • Natural language processing and algorithmic moderation
  • Programming for inclusion and diversity
  • Media analytics and community building
  • The role of ex-ante developers in algorithmic systems
  • The learned failings of voice recognition and automated systems
  • The gendering of machines incl. intelligent personal assistants
  • Automating customer service

Please submit abstracts of 600-800 words to Jonathon Hutchinson jonathon.hutchinson@sydney.edu.au and Fiona Martin fiona.martin@sydney.edu.au by Monday May 15th. Notification of acceptance will be by May 30th. Three travel assistance grants will be available for the best proposals (with full paper drafts required by July 14th). For further information email us, phone +614 2839 1122 or tweet @mediarepublik and @dhutchman

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New Law Annexe, New Law School Building (F10)

Eastern Avenue

The University of Sydney

Camperdown, NSW 2006

Australia

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