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Message posted on 22/05/2023

Call for Participants: The Universal Ambitions of Computing (Pre 4S Workshop, Hawaii, Nov6/7, 2023)

Workshop, The Universal Ambitions of Computing, Hawaii, Nov 6-7 2023 (Pre 4S)

We are seeking applicants for our upcoming workshop in Hawaii (November 6-7, 2023) right before the Social Studies of Science (4S) annual conference, where we will be exploring “The Universal Ambitions of Computing” from an STS perspective—broadly construed, both historical and contemporary. If you are interested in participating in the workshop, please send a CV and a one-page statement of interest on the topics of the workshop to and before 17th of July.

This workshop seeks to cultivate a conversation around the present capacities and future ambitions of computational universalism—ie. the practices of producing algorithms, infrastructures, data, and systems that work here, there, and everywhere—and to foster the exploration of new theories, concepts, and categories as well as cases that can shed light on this issue.

Just as with the advent of formal statistics in the 17th and 18th century, computation in the 21st century is making wide claims to knowledge making and ontology. The tools, practices, and infrastructures of computation are becoming a new universal machinery of both truth-making and world-making. Computer science and cognate fields seem to be becoming the lingua franca of the 21st century, with enormous efforts invested in giving “the computational” the power to flatten complex relationships and turn complex worlds into flat and universal systems of knowing and doing.

We want to explore questions such as:

What are the effects and consequences of this movement towards computational universalism? What are the techniques and methods of computational universalism? Who are its actors and drivers? How is power entangled with universalization? How are computational collectives intertwined and shape the spaces for agency in our world? What actors gain, and which ones lose? What is excluded from becoming in the world through universalizing practices?

The workshop aims to cover lodging and meals during the event (Nov 6-7). Unfortunately we cannot fund all participants’ travel, but we hope that if you are already attending the 4S conference that you will consider joining (we do have a small set of additional travel funds available, so please write to us to discuss if you are pressed for funds).

Please note that a 5-page position paper on a topic of your choice will be due in October before the workshop.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us at and .

We look forward to seeing you in Hawaii,

Francis Lee, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden,

David Ribes, University of Washington, USA,


Francis Lee Associate Professor Division of Science, Technology, & Society Chalmers University of Technology

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