Data’s Human History with Chris Wiggins and Matthew Jones
The central question of the twenty-first century has become that of data. How is it gathered? How is it used? By whom and for whom? As society becomes increasingly digital, how can one opt out of the data machine, and in what ways are we all unwittingly opting in? Omnipresent and largely anonymous, data technology’s murky origins contribute to its near-mystical status. In new work How Data Happened, historians of science Chris Wiggins and Matthew Jones combat this opacity, revealing the fascinating and deeply political history of data. Considering economic, social, and diplomatic factors, Wiggins and Jones situate data within a matrix of states, companies, and individuals all seeking to transform knowledge into power.
About the speakers:
Matthew L. Jones is James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization in the Department of History at Columbia University. A Guggenheim Fellow and a Mellon New Directions fellow, he has published two works on the history of science, is completing a book on state surveillance of communications and, with Chris Wiggins, has just published How Data Happened, a history of the science, politics, and power of data, statistics, and machine learning from the 1800s to the present (2023).
Chris Wiggins is an associate professor of applied mathematics at Columbia University and the Chief Data Scientist at the New York Times. At Columbia, he is a founding member of the executive committee of the Data Science Institute, and of the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics as well as the Department of Systems Biology, and is affiliated faculty in Statistics. He is a co-founder and co-organizer of hackNY, a Fellow of the American Physical Society and is a recipient of Columbia’s Avanessians Diversity Award.
The Entre Nous series is co-organized by Columbia Global Centers | Paris, the Institute for Ideas and Imagination, and the American Library in Paris.
Important information: Jones and Wiggins will not be appearing in person. While the conversation will happen online (Jones and Wiggins will appear on Zoom), the Library will stream the conversation in the Reading Room for a live viewing experience. Both in-person and online attendees will be able to pose questions.
This event requires advance registration.
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This conversation is part of the Entre Nous series organized in partnership with the The American Library in Paris and Columbia Global Centers | Paris.