Louise Amoore: Our lives with algorithms

Lecture Series "Making Sense of the digital Society"

Louise Amoore – Making Sense of the Digital Society.Making Sense of the Digital Society: Louise Amoore (© bpb, HIIG)

From detecting anomalies in the landscape of medical images over drone footage to influencing elections, machine learning algorithms are transforming radically how we generate sense in society. Deep neural net algorithms condense the features of a scene to an output of meaning – such as “a man is throwing a frisbee in a park”, “a woman is standing at the border fence with a crowd in the background”, “the protesters are gathering in the city square”. They reduce the intractable difficulties and the undecidability of what could be happening in a scene into a single meaning, impacting future decisions and actions. Is that hate speech or freedom of speech? Are people pickpocketing or cuddling? Is this a protestor or a terrorist?

In order to learn how to make distinctions, today’s algorithms require interactions with us and our data. The training and adaptation of algorithms is done through the attributes of our lives and the lives of others. This is problematic because the meaning of our relationships with other beings and how they come to make sense, cannot be condensed precisely. How do we begin to locate these aspects within the algorithm’s programme of sense-making in the digital society? Are there counter-methods available to us that resist the clustering of human attributes via machine learning? What remains in the digital society of that which is unattributable, that which cannot be translated into a single numeric output?

Louise Amoore is Professor of Geography at Durham University, UK; she researches and teaches in the areas of global geopolitics and security. MS Amoore has particular interests in how contemporary forms of data, analytics and risk management are changing the techniques of border control and security. Amoore has been awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2016-18) for her work on the ethics of algorithms. Her most recent book is "The Politics of Possibility: Risk and Security Beyond Probability" (Duke University Press, 2013).

The Series "Making Sense of the digital Society" is moderated by Tobi Müller (http://www.tobimueller.net/).


  • 18:30 Doors open
  • 19:00 – 19:15 Welcome and introduction
  • 19:15 – 20:00 Our lives with algorithms – Louise Amoore (Durham University)
  • 20:00 – 21:00 Moderated discussion and questions from the audience
  • 21:00 – 22:00 Get-together
The event will be held in English and simultaneously translated into German.

This event will be recorded and broadcasted live. By signing up you consent to be photographed, filmed and/or otherwise recorded during the event and that the content can be used in connection with the promotion and public relations of this event .

Recordings from previous events can be found here.

Back to the German version of this event announcement.


01.07.2019, from 18:30 until 22:00


Hebbel am Ufer (HAU 1)
Stresemannstraße 29
10963 Berlin


Interested citizens, Multipliers


Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung - bpb)

Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society – HIIG


fee: Participation is free.
Capacities are limited. Please register by using the (external) link.


Federal Agency for Civic Education

Mr. Sascha Scheier
Adenauerallee 86
53113 Bonn
E-Mail sascha.scheier@bpb.de

Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society – HIIG

Mr. Christian Grauvogel
Französische Straße 9
10117 Berlin
E-Mail christian.grauvogel@hiig.de

press contact

For accreditation as press representative please contact Mr. Florian Lüdtke (Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society) presse@hiig.de.

For other journalistic inquieries please refer to the press contact.