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Anthropology Roundtable Symposium: Ian Lowrie

Monday, September 23, 2019 4:30pm to 6:00pm

3203 Southeast Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, Oregon 97202-8199

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Join us for a presentation from Ian Lowrie '09 as part of the Anthropology Roundtable Symposium Series! Refreshments will be served. Free and open to the public.

"How 'Russian Data Scientists' Think: About the Future, for Example"

It can be hard to make plans in contemporary Russia. Sanctions felt to be capricious and arbitrary, alongside uncontrollable instability in the petrodollar economy, threaten domestic projects and globalizing ambitions alike. This talk explores how Russian data scientists nevertheless find ways to think about the future, make plans, build institutions, and navigate their careers in this shifting and unpredictable milieu. Based on fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in Moscow universities and computing firms, it charts how their intimate familiarity with data scientific prediction informs their collective futurological imagination, and how this imagination shapes their concrete political activities. Far from engaging in technocratic antipolitics, these workers are in fact finding ways to use their training and knowledge to build humane and stable futures out of a chaotic, murky, and occasionally brutal present.

Ian Lowrie is an applied anthropologist who studies how people build and use computing infrastructure, with a particular focus on data-intensive organizations. His academic work has been published in Cultural Anthropology and Big Data & Society, and he is currently working as a market researcher studying business-to-business interactions in the technology sector. 

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