Adrian Mackenzie

Adrian Mackenzie is Professor of Technological Cultures in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University and the author of Wirelessness: Radical Empiricism in Network Cultures (MIT Press).

  • Machine Learners

    Machine Learners

    Archaeology of a Data Practice

    Adrian Mackenzie

    If machine learning transforms the nature of knowledge, does it also transform the practice of critical thought?

    Machine learning—programming computers to learn from data—has spread across scientific disciplines, media, entertainment, and government. Medical research, autonomous vehicles, credit transaction processing, computer gaming, recommendation systems, finance, surveillance, and robotics use machine learning. Machine learning devices (sometimes understood as scientific models, sometimes as operational algorithms) anchor the field of data science. They have also become mundane mechanisms deeply embedded in a variety of systems and gadgets. In contexts from the everyday to the esoteric, machine learning is said to transform the nature of knowledge. In this book, Adrian Mackenzie investigates whether machine learning also transforms the practice of critical thinking.

    Mackenzie focuses on machine learners—either humans and machines or human-machine relations—situated among settings, data, and devices. The settings range from fMRI to Facebook; the data anything from cat images to DNA sequences; the devices include neural networks, support vector machines, and decision trees. He examines specific learning algorithms—writing code and writing about code—and develops an archaeology of operations that, following Foucault, views machine learning as a form of knowledge production and a strategy of power. Exploring layers of abstraction, data infrastructures, coding practices, diagrams, mathematical formalisms, and the social organization of machine learning, Mackenzie traces the mostly invisible architecture of one of the central zones of contemporary technological cultures.

    Mackenzie's account of machine learning locates places in which a sense of agency can take root. His archaeology of the operational formation of machine learning does not unearth the footprint of a strategic monolith but reveals the local tributaries of force that feed into the generalization and plurality of the field.

    • Hardcover $40.00
    • Paperback $35.00
  • Wirelessness

    Wirelessness

    Radical Empiricism in Network Cultures

    Adrian Mackenzie

    An account of the sensations associated with being entangled with wireless technologies that draws on the philosophical techniques of William James's radical empiricism.

    How has wirelessness—being connected to objects and infrastructures without knowing exactly how or where—become a key form of contemporary experience? Stretching across routers, smart phones, netbooks, cities, towers, Guangzhou workshops, service agreements, toys, and states, wireless technologies have brought with them sensations of change, proximity, movement, and divergence.

    In Wirelessness, Adrian Mackenzie draws on philosophical techniques from a century ago to make sense of this most contemporary postnetwork condition. The radical empiricism associated with the pragmatist philosopher William James, Mackenzie argues, offers fresh ways for matching the disordered flow of wireless networks, meshes, patches, and connections with felt sensations. For Mackenzie, entanglements with things, gadgets, infrastructures, and services—tendencies, fleeting nuances, and peripheral shades of often barely registered feeling that cannot be easily codified, symbolized, or quantified—mark the experience of wirelessness, and this links directly to James's expanded conception of experience.

    “Wirelessness” designates a tendency to make network connections in different times and places using these devices and services. Equally, it embodies a sensibility attuned to the proliferation of devices and services that carry information through radio signals. Above all, it means heightened awareness of ongoing change and movement associated with networks, infrastructures, location, and information. The experience of wirelessness spans several strands of media-technological change, and Mackenzie moves from wireless cities through signals, devices, networks, maps, and products, to the global belief in the expansion of wireless worlds.

    • Hardcover $36.00

Contributor

  • The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, Fourth Edition

    The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, Fourth Edition

    Ulrike Felt, Rayvon Fouché, Clark A. Miller, and Laurel Smith-Doerr

    The fourth edition of an authoritative overview, with all new chapters that capture the state of the art in a rapidly growing field.

    Science and Technology Studies (STS) is a flourishing interdisciplinary field that examines the transformative power of science and technology to arrange and rearrange contemporary societies. The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies provides a comprehensive and authoritative overview of the field, reviewing current research and major theoretical and methodological approaches in a way that is accessible to both new and established scholars from a range of disciplines. This new edition, sponsored by the Society for Social Studies of Science, is the fourth in a series of volumes that have defined the field of STS. It features 36 chapters, each written for the fourth edition, that capture the state of the art in a rich and rapidly growing field. One especially notable development is the increasing integration of feminist, gender, and postcolonial studies into the body of STS knowledge.

    The book covers methods and participatory practices in STS research; mechanisms by which knowledge, people, and societies are coproduced; the design, construction, and use of material devices and infrastructures; the organization and governance of science; and STS and societal challenges including aging, agriculture, security, disasters, environmental justice, and climate change.

    • Hardcover $75.00
  • Quantified

    Quantified

    Biosensing Technologies in Everyday Life

    Dawn Nafus

    What is at stake socially, culturally, politically, and economically when we routinely use technology to gather information about our bodies and environments?

    Today anyone can purchase technology that can track, quantify, and measure the body and its environment. Wearable or portable sensors detect heart rates, glucose levels, steps taken, water quality, genomes, and microbiomes, and turn them into electronic data. Is this phenomenon empowering, or a new form of social control? Who volunteers to enumerate bodily experiences, and who is forced to do so? Who interprets the resulting data? How does all this affect the relationship between medical practice and self care, between scientific and lay knowledge? Quantified examines these and other issues that arise when biosensing technologies become part of everyday life.

    The book offers a range of perspectives, with views from the social sciences, cultural studies, journalism, industry, and the nonprofit world. The contributors consider data, personhood, and the urge to self-quantify; legal, commercial, and medical issues, including privacy, the outsourcing of medical advice, and self-tracking as a “paraclinical” practice; and technical concerns, including interoperability, sociotechnical calibration, alternative views of data, and new space for design.

    ContributorsMarc Böhlen, Geoffrey C. Bowker, Sophie Day, Anna de Paula Hanika, Deborah Estrin, Brittany Fiore-Gartland, Dana Greenfield, Judith Gregory, Mette Kragh-Furbo, Celia Lury, Adrian Mackenzie, Rajiv Mehta, Maggie Mort, Dawn Nafus, Gina Neff, Helen Nissenbaum, Heather Patterson, Celia Roberts, Jamie Sherman, Alex Taylor, Gary Wolf

    • Hardcover $9.75
    • Paperback $30.00