Humane Infrastructures

Humane Infrastructures: A UCLA Experimental Humanities Workshop

Presented by the UCLA Humanities Division

Organized By Patrik Svensson and Francesca Albrezzi
March 9-10, 2020

From Description:

There is a growing realization that human and humanistic knowledge is necessary to respond to societal challenges and complex problems.

Such responses are almost always going to engage with infrastructure one way or another. Infrastructures make up a fabric of our society – technological, human, urban, societal, cultural, environmental, digital and academic. Infrastructure is also a way of thinking about the world, which comes with certain predispositions and values.

The day and a half Humane Infrastructures event Humane Infrastructures brings together leading scholars, experts, artists, university administrators, politicians, and community members to consider and outline how we can build long-term human/humanities-driven capacity to collaboratively critique, imagine, design, and build civic and academic infrastructures at scale. The workshop will be both content-driven (specific research projects, ideas, practices, cases, challenges, perspectives) and high-level (strategy, policy, capacity, leadership). It will draw on the strengths of UCLA.

A central concern for Humane Infrastructures is how to mobilize humanistic/human knowledge at scale, particularly in relation to the socio-technological systems and infrastructures – including AI, search engines, urban infrastructure, supply chains, academic infrastructure, medical technology and environmental data – that play such an important role in our lives and societies. The workshop has a national and international scope and ambition, while being embedded in Los Angeles and Southern California.

The program will be structured around 1) major challenges (e.g. homelessness, climate change) and themes (e.g. AI, ‘smart’ cities, the quantified human, online platforms, the academic lifeworld, innovation logic), 2) a toolbox (e.g. critical making, designing for difference, algorithmic intervention/auditing, terraforming, mutualistic systems design, and staying with the trouble), and 3) a set of concrete examples and theoretical issues.

These challenges and themes are all impacted by resolutely humanist concerns, i.e. the relations between what we make, build, and transform as humans, and how we make, build, and transform ourselves. The practices and perspectives in the toolkit speak explicit to these relations, and give us new ways to acknowledge, denaturalize, respond, and impact them.