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Who is Driving the Innovation? From Tech Alarmism to Digital Alternatives

March 14 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

We are inviting you to the Sociology Research Seminar organized by FSAS-UBB on March 14th. Our guest presenters are Niccolò Cuppini (University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland) and Maurilio Pirone (University of Bologna) on behalf of the Bolognese collective Into the Black Box. The presentation (in English) will be followed by discussion, moderated by Oana Mateescu (FSAS). Into the Black Box will also give a public presentation on Friday, March 15th at Casa Tranzit, titled Doing militant co-research in Bologna.

Date: March 14th, 18.00-20.00
Location: Dostoievski (former Plugarilor) str., no. 34-36, room 7

Who is Driving the Innovation? From Tech Alarmism to Digital Alternatives
Into the Black Box

The dominant contemporary paradigm of technological transformation assumes that a few giant companies have a monopoly on innovation, while people are threatened by mass surveillance and States can simply regulate the market. For this reason, Big Tech has gained overwhelming power nowadays, resembling more and more modern commercial empires. Citizens can only attempt to limit such power embedded in corporate technological supremacy.

Nevertheless, for many years, digital technologies have been the subject of several narratives and attempts aiming to democratize technological innovation as a tool for a fairer society, from cybernetic experiments in the Allende’ Chile to the gift economy of hacker culture.

Drawing upon the results of ongoing Horizon Europe research project INCA (Increase corporate political responsibility and accountability), we will present a genealogy of digital transformations from the 1960s to the present day to highlight how technological innovation has become increasingly financialized and centralized. Then, we will analyze the different political options toward the organization of digital innovation, arguing that more than simply limiting the power of Big Tech, it would be fundamental to regain control over the planning and design of technology.

Into the Black Box is a project of multidisciplinary and collective research that adopts logistics as a point of view on contemporary political, economic and social transformations. It started with a research project by some PhD scholars of the University of Bologna on supply chain development and conflicts in North Italy; the output of this work has been presented during the Berlin summer school “Teaching the Crisis” in September 2013. Into the Black Box conceives logistics not simply as commodities circulation, but rather as a whole biopolitical apparatus that performs spaces, subjects and powers. “Assemblage”, “connection”, “disruption”, “hub” are becoming central categories for a critical theory that aims to understand globalization processes, labour transformations, dynamics of territorialisation and de-territorialisation, processes of subjectivation. The black box is the symbol of contemporary management techniques and devices that hide the whole logic of the system to external viewers. Similar boxes are all around us: in platform capitalism, in urban planning, in labour organisation, in State governance. A way to penetrate the opacity of the system is to analyse inputs and outputs, operations and consequences, procedures and resistances. So, a multidisciplinary approach that combines sociology and anthropology of labour, political theory, ethnographic inquires and historical perspective could be a flexible tool to shape a logistics understanding of contemporary world. Into the Black Box is now a blog which hosts materials (events, articles, conferences) that contribute to carry this research on.


March 14
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Clădirea Plugarilor
str. Dostoievski (Plugarilor), nr. 34-36, sala 7
Cluj-Napoca, Romania
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Faculty of Sociology and Social Work