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Artificial Artificial Intelligence: In conversation with Massimo Airoldi, author of Machine Habitus (2022) and ‘Stealth Love’ (2019)

9 November 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm AEDT

Machine Habitus cover image

Join Massimo Airoldi, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Milan, in conversation about his new monograph Machine Habitus (2022, Polity) and short story ‘Stealth Love’ (2019, The Sociological Review) with ADM+S Research Fellow Ash Watson.

Machine Habitus: Toward a Sociology of Algorithms examines the place of emerging technologies in the feedback loops of social life: how culture takes shape in code and code in turn shapes culture. The book deftly portraits machines as sociological objects and peels back machine learning processes to consider ‘culture as the warm human matter lying inside’. Doing this, Airoldi explores algorithmic devices as social agents and gestures to the possibilities of artificial intelligence designed outside the strictures of profit and power. 

Airoldi’s 2019 short story ‘Stealth Love’ takes flight from similar questions, landing issues of data surveillance in the intimate lives of a small cast of characters in London, 2028. It opens:

Aripiprazole: bingo! Side effects: orthostatic hypotension and cardiac arrhythmia. Precisely what I need to fool the health-tracking pillow kindly provided by our apprehensive HR colleagues, and enjoy an unpredictable day trip on an otherwise hectic Monday morning. 

The crafted lyricism of the story inflates a near future from today’s techno-dystopic seeds, and plays with scholarly concepts as literary metaphors – for example, fashioning a reference to the ‘black box’ of obfuscated algorithmic processing to evoke the emotional depths we cannot plumb of those we love. 

Artificial Artificial Intelligence is a new series of in-conversation talks about technology and fiction hosted by Dr Ash Watson of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S). Probing the porous boundaries between machine realities and imagination, the series features leading scholars from the humanities and social sciences who are changing what – and how – we know about emerging technologies. 


Massimo Airoldi

Assistant Professor Massimo Airoldi
Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan.

Massimo Airoldi is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Department of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Milan. Previously he worked as researcher and Assistant Professor at the Lifestyle Research Center of EM Lyon Business School. His research interests include critical algorithm studies, computational methods, consumption and cultural taste. He has recently coauthored with Joonas Rokka the article “Algorithmic consumer culture” (Consumption Markets & Culture, 2022). 


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Ash Watson

Dr Ash Watson
Research Fellow, UNSW Sydney

Ash Watson is sociologist of technology, fiction and DIY community practices based at the UNSW Sydney node of ADM+S. A Postdoctoral Fellow aligned with the Health focus area and People program of the Centre, she researches the social impacts of how automated decision-making and A.I. are imagined, designed and implemented across contexts of health and wellbeing. She also researches the digital-material spectrum of zine cultures, and queer digital archival practices.


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9 November 2022
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm AEDT