The age of digitisation, ‘datification’, and ever smarter machines has opened up huge opportunities, from improving national security and healthcare to shopping and making travel plans. At the same time the combination of machine learning and massive data that is increasingly driving many of the automated decision-making systems that govern our daily lives brings dramatic consequences for democracy as we know it and raises serious questions around human agency, civil liberties, and power structures. This is a big concern for Stefania Milan, Associate Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam, and Associate Professor (II) of Media Innovation at the University of Oslo. Stefania also heads DATACTIVE, a project funded by the European Research Council that explores the politics of big data, privacy, and surveillance. By analysing civil society’s engagement with massive data collection, Stefania’s highly interdisciplinary work seeks to shed light on the interplay between society, information, technology, and power. At Falling Walls, Stefania weighs up the risks and promises of big data while showing paths to the future of civic engagement and ‘data-driven’ liberal democracies.

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