21 September 2023

Toward an Inter-Machine Sociology - DISTRACT talk with Christian Borch & Nicholas Skar-Gislinge

On Friday the 15th of September, 2023, professor Christian Borch & postdoc Nicholas Skar-Gislinge presented their work entitled ”Toward an Inter-Machine Sociology” in a DISTRACT talk. 

Abstract: Sociology has traditionally focused on human action and interaction, but with the rise of automation,there are spheres in society where interaction is increasingly taking place among machines without direct human involvement. To understand such machine interactions, we argue that an inter-machine sociology is needed that addresses: (1) the human-machine arrangements in which the design and deployment of the machines are embedded; (2) the infrastructural foundations of inter-machine dynamics; and (3) the interactions among machines themselves. While the first two dimensions can be analyzed on the basis of existing sociological approaches, the third requires new theorization and methodological reorientation. We propose that inter-machine dynamics can be understood as mutual observation-and-response configurations, and that agent-based modeling is a suitable tool for studying them, given the challenges of observing machine interactions directly. To illustrate our approach, we present a semi-realistic agent-based simulation of inter-machine cascades in automated securities trading. Our study highlights the importance of developing an inter-machine sociology that accounts for the unique features of machine interactions and their broader social implications.