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Seminar: Luke Stark

Luke Stark
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, University of Western Ontario



Video link


“Ordering Emotion: Scenes from the History of Affective Computing”

In fields ranging from health and wellness and advertising and marketing to public safety and security, and political campaigning, data analytics tools united with techniques from the psychological and behavioral sciences are being deployed in real-world application defining, tracking, measuring, and modulating our moods, feelings, and physical affective responses. Scandals like the 2014 Facebook “emotional contagion” study and the “psychographic profiling” of Trump campaign contractor Cambridge Analytica have brought these technologies into public consciousness. Yet despite their increasing centrality to digitally-mediated life, the historical genealogy of these technologies, and the broader role of psychological models of emotion and personality in computing, remains almost entirely unexplored in the history of computing. In this talk, I connect the historical treatment of human emotion by computer science to parallel wider debates within psychology, psychology, and cognitive science from late 1940s up to the present, examining how the genealogy of cybernetic technologies for mood tracking shaped the slow growth of affective computing as an organized field in the 2000s and its speedy growth today.

Speaker's Bio

Luke Stark is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario. His work interrogates the historical, social, and ethical impacts of computing and artificial intelligence technologies, particularly those mediating social and emotional expression. His scholarship highlights the asymmetries of power, access and justice that are emerging as these systems are deployed in the world, and the social and political challenges that technologists, policymakers, and the wider public face as a result.

Luke has previously been a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Fairness, Accountability, Transparency and Ethics (FATE) Group at Microsoft Research in Montreal, QC; a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Dartmouth College, a Fellow and Affiliate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and an inaugural Fellow with the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Technology, Society, and Policy. He completed his PhD in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University in 2016 under the supervision of Helen Nissenbaum, and holds an Honours BA and MA in History from the University of Toronto.

Luke's research has been featured in publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, Harvard Business Review, The Globe and Mail, and on Canada's CBC Radio.

Speaker's Website

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