The course offers the basic notions of the organization of the network and of the social networks
The course aims at a general understanding of big data and algorithms and of their use within social sciences and humanities
The objective of the course is the introduction to the transformation of the epistemology of social sciences and humanities caused by the new methods for the organization of information
The objective of the course is the understanding of the open questions in the social, political and epistemological fields of digitalization and automation of decision taking.

At the end of the course, students will be able to discuss digitalization problems and their consequences in terms of knowledge creation and organization
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The network as a tool for knowledge creation: Data, control and freedom.
The course aims at analysing the most common devices for sharing information in order to focus on risks and opportunities.
The communication technologies revolution faces a big transformation: the original open spaces are about to be substituted by private walled gardens, in which the user is welcomed as well as restrained.

The data mining activity – well-knows as big data technology – extraction of valuable pieces of information among those directly or indirectly offered by the users, represents one of the central elements of the network organization both in economical and social terms. These strategies pose not only privacy problems (as it is easily shown) but also problems relative to the knowledge model that seems to impose on humanities as well as social sciences. Such a model can be adopted, by using an epistemological approach that could foresee as well as a monitor human habits and behaviours.

We speak about platform capitalism and algorithmic governamentality. They attribute to the algorithms not only the commercial choices but also the social and political decisions that are relevant for pacific, civic citizenship practices. The opacity of the algorithms risks to undermine the democratic possibilities even in western democracies.

The course is based on a critical approach on the relationships between freedom and control within the digital communication devices. It tackles the question from the point of view of the interaction between freedom opportunities and control mechanisms, which stands at the core of practices and techniques of digital apparatuses, with special regards to their social, political, epistemological dimensions.
This course can be considered inside the area of critical enquiry on the philosophy of technology.

Big data and algorithms create correlations, regurlar patterns and quantifications in order to propose interpretations of phenomena according to mathematical mechanisms of automation. however, it is an illusion to think that an automatic understanding of habits and events could be objective and neutral. Artificial Intelligence technologies wish to define what happened and to predict the future, but they are created by human beings and they keep all human characteristics.

The recent revelations about Cambridge Analytica scandal and the enforcement of the European General Data protection regulation since last may 2018 clarify the crucial importance of the understanding the scope and the relevance of who is the actor who controls and collects personal data and which are the aims of such a collection. We need to establish clearly which are the limits of these activities of personal data monitoring and extraction.
The course concentrates on basic elements of information and media literacy in this area of research, in order to allow students to undertand what is at stake in the massive use of digital platforms.

Core Documentation

Numerico T. (2021) Big Data e algoritmi, Carocci, Roma.
Ippolita (2017) Tecnologie del dominio, Meltemi, Milano.

Type of delivery of the course

The lectures are in presence at the university, except for other indications due to the pandemic emergency.

Type of evaluation

For students attending the course it is possible to write a review and a text reserved for students who attend lectures. For students not attending the course there is a written exam whose aim is the evaluation of the knowledge of texts included in the program