TILT seminar: Social X: computing and data science as society

Date: Time: 12:00 Location: Online Meeting

Time: 12:00 -13:30
Social X: computing and data science as society

In this TILT/LTMS seminar, George Fletcher (TuE), Alexander Serebrenik (TuE) and Linnet Taylor (TILT) will make the case for an interdisciplinary network to research fundamental questions in social, philosophical and computing sciences. Our logic for this is as follows: 

In our work we are challenged by the following open questions:  What do we do to/for/with each other through the tools of computing and data sciences? What are opportunities and challenges for the humanities and social sciences to inform, impact, and collaborate with computing and data science research and education, and vice versa? Is it possible to do research that is both fundamental and interdisciplinary in relation to technology? With this invitation, we are reaching out to a group of scholars we feel are fellow travelers in facing these questions.

The problem we plan to address is this: both in the Netherlands and more broadly, both national science policy and universities themselves currently tend to focus on computer and computing sciences as the answer, rather than as the question. This leads to a situation where the role of social science and philosophy becomes to provide boundaries and pushback rather than to collaborate in setting a common agenda. We see law, ethics or strategic collaboration tacked on to technical projects, with social scientists are inserted to ‘bring a social scientific perspective’. This is a false opposition. The question is how we can collectively learn to think creatively about, and between, the technical and social fields. To do this, we need a space for free and equal exchange between scholars in different fields who are asking fundamental questions.

This seminar therefore represents a call for collaboration. With this meeting we want to make a proposal for active collaboration across fields, independent of funded projects and university strategy. We aim to bring an initial group together to understand our collective priorities and how we would like to collaborate.


George Fletcher (TuE), is Full Professor at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and chair of the Database Group in the Data and Artificial Intelligence Cluster. His main area of study is data systems and he is particularly interested in query language design and engineering, foundations of databases, data analytics, and data science He is currently investigating data engineering challenges in the management of massive graphs such as social networks, knowledge graphs, and biological networks, as well as foundations and engineering of graph query languages and graph data analytics.

Alexander Serebrenik (TuE)  is a Full Professor of Social Software Engineering at the Software Engineering and Technology cluster of Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). Alexander’s research goal is to facilitate evolution of software by taking into account social aspects of software development. His work tends to involve theories and methods both from within computer science (e.g., theory of socio-technical coordination; methods from natural language processing, machine learning) and from outside of computer science (e.g., organisational psychology). The underlying idea of his work is that of empiricism, i.e., that addressing software engineering challenges should be grounded in observation and experimentation, and requires a combination of the social and the technical perspectives. Alexander has co-authored a book “Evolving Software Systems” (Springer Verlag, 2014), and more than 100 scientific papers and articles. He is actively involved in organisation of scientific conferences as member and chair of steering committees, general chair, program committee chair, track chair and program committee member. He has won multiple best paper and distinguished reviewer awards, and is member of the editorial board of several journals. Alexander is a senior member of IEEE and a member of ACM.

and Linnet Taylor (TILT) is an associate Professor at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT), where she leads the ERC-funded Global Data Justice project, seeking to understand the differerent perspectives worldwide on what constitutes just treatment through data technologies. Her research focuses on the use of new sources of digital data in governance and research around issues of human and economic development. She was previously a Marie Curie research fellow in the University of Amsterdam’s International Development faculty, and a postdoctoral researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute. She holds a DPhil in International Development from the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.

Host: Merel Noorman


* For more information regarding this event please contact: Heidi van Veen