The Statistical Subject in the Age of Data


Past Event

The Statistical Subject in the Age of Data

May 10, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
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Jerome Greene Hall 908

by Dominique Deprins | with Edouard Delruelle (commentator) and Bernard E. Harcourt (moderator)

How are quiet statisticians changing our world? Are they still taming chance, as Ian Hacking has contended? New decisional statistics are seeking less to discriminate people into categories (that create identity group constrains) than to extract, from massive data that collects the most anodyne things of our lives, a knowledge about our most private desires. What do Markov Chains, which allows Google to create a score that ranks the Internet’s every page, teach us about our data world and its rationality? What does the new correlations of the algorithms of the Machine Learning teach us about our desires? What does the Brownian movement, related to Markov Chains, tell us about our contemporary shape of chance?  What becomes of subjectivity in the age of data when our desires are predicted in their objective reality by algorithms? How should we understand the “contagion” between a “machinical” functioning and the subjectivity in the age of data?
Retracing the powerful moments of the history of probabilities, the aim of this workshop is to show that the data world is freeing itself from the probabilistic world and, drawing from this analysis, to better pinpoint our data world. In particular, Michel Foucault and Ian Hacking have very well described the emergence and the conditions of possibility of the probabilistic world; man and language are consequently promoted in Western culture. A contemporary statistical subject emerges from this liberation, beyond – as well as below – links of probability and causality. It thus becomes necessary to figure out what is at stake now.
Professor Dominique Deprins is a Visiting Scholar at Columbia Law School, more specifically, at the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought. She is a statistician and teaches Probabilities and Mathematical Statistics at the Université Saint-Louis, in Brussels, and the Université Catholique de Louvain, in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. She has been invited as a Visiting Scholar on the occasion of her sabbatical leave in the framework of the Digital Initiative launched by Professor Bernard E. Harcourt and Emeritus Professor F. Ewald, at Columbia Global Centers-Paris, in December 2016. After doing research on statistical modelling and stochastic calculus for finance, she is currently interested in an epistemological approach to the impact of contemporary statistical rationalities on our current subjectivities. In order to stimulate debate, this talk will present the main results of the book she is writing, a book that is still a work in progress.

Edouard Delruelle, Professor in Political Philosophy at f the University of Liège (Belgium); co-director of the Research Center « Matérialités de la politique. His areas of expertise are the French Thought (Lévi-Strauss, Foucault, Rancière, Lefort, Balibar, etc.,), and political and social theory: migrations, inequalities, Welfare State, with a focus on conflicts as core of democracy. Last book published: De l’homme et du citoyen. Une introduction à la philosophie politique, De Boeck, 2014.  

This workshop is free and open to the public. Please register by emailing Anna Krauthamer at [email protected]. Lunch will be served.