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Pattern Discrimination

2018
Authors:

Clemens Apprich, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Florian Cramer, and Hito Steyerl

Pattern Discrimination

How do “human” prejudices reemerge in algorithmic cultures allegedly devised to be blind to them?

Bringing together media thinkers and artists from the United States and Germany, this volume asks the urgent questions: How can we discriminate without being discriminatory? How can we filter information out of data without reinserting racist, sexist, and classist beliefs? How can we queer homophilic tendencies within digital cultures?

How do “human” prejudices reemerge in algorithmic cultures allegedly devised to be blind to them? To answer this question, this book investigates a fundamental axiom in computer science: pattern discrimination. By imposing identity on input data, in order to filter—that is, to discriminate—signals from noise, patterns become a highly political issue. Algorithmic identity politics reinstate old forms of social segregation, such as class, race, and gender, through defaults and paradigmatic assumptions about the homophilic nature of connection.

Instead of providing a more “objective” basis of decision making, machine-learning algorithms deepen bias and further inscribe inequality into media. Yet pattern discrimination is an essential part of human—and nonhuman—cognition. Bringing together media thinkers and artists from the United States and Germany, this volume asks the urgent questions: How can we discriminate without being discriminatory? How can we filter information out of data without reinserting racist, sexist, and classist beliefs? How can we queer homophilic tendencies within digital cultures?

Pattern Discrimination

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun is professor of modern culture and media at Brown University. She is the author of Update to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media.

Hito Steyerl is professor of experimental film and video at the Berlin University of the Arts. She is the author of Duty Free Art: Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War.

Florian Cramer is applied research professor of new media and their impact on art and design at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. He is the author of What Is Post-Digital.

Clemens Apprich is visiting professor at the Institute of Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media, Leuphana University of Lueneburg. He is the author of Technotopia: A Media Genealogy of Net Cultures.

About This Book