Message posted on 30/01/2023

Feb 2, 7pm CET: Noopur Raval: The Algorithm is a Convenient Lie: Rethinking expertise and invisibility to support decolonial digital practice (public online lecture)

Public LecturebyNoopurRaval2.2.237 pm CETonline (please register with )

Wearepleasedtoannouncethefollowingpubliclectureaspartofthisyear'sDigiGovWinterSchool"Digitalpracticesandglobalinequalities " :

The Algorithm is a Convenient Lie: Rethinking expertise and invisibility to support decolonial digital practice

Noopur Raval, PhD

"As AI, machine learning and algorithmic processing get more and more embedded in our digitally mediated communications and transactions, it has become necessary to interrogate algorithms as political and social objects. One critique that scholars and journalists offer is to point at a so-called AI or automated system and reveal the actually low-paid humans behind the AI - often brown and black bodies especially from the majority of the world engaged in supposedly boring and repetitive work to make the fantasy of automation and intelligence look real. We are in a moment where multiple critiques of AI, techno-colonialism and labor exploitation have emerged.

My talk responds to this moment in two parts. Firstly, drawing on my past ethnographic research with appbased gig workers in India, I will talk about how algorithmic systems are made to function smoothly through the work of a variety of human actors. Through these various platform encounters, I will show what forms of expertise and agency are attributed to ‘the algorithms’ as a convenient opaque object and in-turn, what is obscured. The second part of the talk asks - what next? What do we do after we have located the hidden human workers of AI, where do we go from here? I unpack the uneven global relations that shape the political economy of AI and argue against the mode of sentimentalism, to instead pay attention to contingencies and diverse infrastructural realities to decolonize critical AI thinking and activist and creative responses to the rise of AI."


Raval, Noopur: An Agenda for Decolonizing Data Science. In: spheres: Journal for Digital Cultures. Spectres of AI (2019), Nr. 5, S. 1–6. DOI:

Ranjit Singh (2021): The decolonial turn is on the road to contingency, Information, Communication & Society, DOI:



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