Orit Halpern’s university career is impressive – not only is the spectrum of disciplines wide, but the career in which these topics were covered has taken her to three of eight Ivy League schools, amongst others. She began at Dartmouth, where she graduated cum laude with a degree in History, after which she completed a Masters of Public Health in Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University in New York. And as if that weren’t enough, she moved on to Harvard to add another Masters in the History of Science, as well as a Ph.D. in the same discipline. Following this, she worked as a Post-doctoral Fellow at Duke University before becoming an Assistant Professor at the New School University in New York. Orit Halpern is now Associate Professor for Interactive Design in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal.
Her background in history allows Orit Halpern to build bridges to the past in her observations, so as to better understand the present and construct visions for the future. She pays special attention to the power ‘big data’ has on the individual and society. Cybernetics – the exploration of regulatory systems, meaning control –plays a big role in her reflections, and with it, the question of how digitalization is changing our way of thinking, acting and interpreting reality. She picks up on this thematic in her book “Beautiful Data”, which traces the changes and historical conditionality of understanding and perception with consideration to cybernetic concepts.
How do we imagine a future that is more pluralistic, diverse and fairer than the current state of resource extraction and power propagated in the name of security, technological progress and growth? Orit Halpern deals with these and other critical issues in the Speculative Life Cluster, a research group made up of artists, designers and scholars. She is co-director of the research cluster, which grapples with the intersections of art, design, culture and technology, and attempts to gauge the ethical and political implications of technological progress to find creative ideas and methods for the resulting global challenges.
We’re sure that Orit Halpern’s talk at the #rp17 will provide us all with lots of intriguing impulses for a more critical view on technologies, digitalization and ‘big data’!
Image credit: Orit Halpern/The New School