martes, 7 de junio de 2016

Alternative actors, Epidemics and Digital Data

Today in POBICS, we have held one of our last meetings in this course. We have reviewing and
commenting papers, drafts or ideas from each of us, lately. In this time, we have commented some ideas about our colleague Mariana Gavris, an expert researcher in the field of big data and digital epidemics. There are the main topics about this meeting and in this post, we want to offer some ideas about it. 

Here you have it:

One important task we want to make is to analyse the relationship between on the one hand, Big Data, Hacking Data, Internet; and on the other hand epidemic and biosurveillance. Yes, we know this is not new at all, because of this we want to offer an STS view using both the alternative actors and intelligent scenarios concepts.

About the first one, alternative actors, it was understood firstly as hackers and this kind of people that carries out digital activities "by other means". But then, we understood that alternative actor are not only people but those materialities (people, devices, technologies...) which can make or create clinamen (in the Serres sense) or a vanishing point (in the deleuzian vocabulary). That is, and event that suddenly happens and it was not planned. 

Thus, related to epidemics, alternative actors can be understood as mediators which "open" new futures, new possibilities (i.e. forecasting an epidemics at the basis on the last "El Niño" phenomenon; or at the basis of the number of passengers between two big cities around the world). In this sense, we want to link it with the modes-of-existence concept given by Bruno Latour in his last book: How can be created new modes of existence from alternative actors? or maybe: are alternative actors created from different kind of modes of existence? What are the modes of existence performed by the mediations enacted by this alternative actors?

About the second one, intelligent scenarios, is a concept that brings from two places: the first one, the smart cities imaginary; and the second one, from our concept of scenario. In this vein, we want to create a concept wich gathers this state of emergency where medical and legal knowledge, history and time, experts and lay people are mixed; and the digital use of big data and the smart city technology. 

The sense of this is understand and analyse the actors involved in this new digital epidemics, and also deepen on the implications about this new dispossitiff in terms of biopolitics, biosurveillance and control of the bios.

Photo Credit: KamiPhuc