A.I. is everywhere right now. As DISCO co P.I. Stephanie Dinkins of the Future Histories Lab explained in this interview with the New York Times, rapid media hype around A.I. focuses on its economic opportunities (or pitfalls) rather than deeper issues such as its reproduction of racial bias. We need historical, critical, and justice-focused research on new technologies, including generative chatbots and other forms of automated discourse and processing. Now is an especially important moment for humanists, makers, and social scientists to engage in collective dialogue about humanity’s entanglements with technology.

To that end, DISCO is celebrating our third year as a network by publishing co-authored intergenerational scholarship, deepening collaborations across our five institutions, planning our summer 2024 DISCO Summit, and engaging more individuals challenging digital social inequalities.

This year, our PIs and Fellows will offer courses in the DISCO theme with titles like: Race, Technology, and Information; Black Social Movements and the Internet; From Prisms to Pantone: Color, Race, and Technology; #NoBodyIsDisposable: Imagining Disability Futures; and Feeling Digital. Current and former DISCO Fellows Lida Zeitlin-Wu, David Adelman, Huan He, Aaron Dial, Rianna Walcott, and Jeff Nagy are publishing a new series of field reviews on technology, disability, race, and gender with Just Tech. We welcomed 10 new graduate scholars and we will be inviting our research affiliates to be in intimate conversation with our P.I.s and Fellows in the spring.

In June 2023, the DISCO Network came together at the Highlights Foundation to co-write Technoskepticism: Between Possibility and Refusal over five long days. This book, currently under review, is about Black A.I., Asian digital effects, disability and digital diagnoses, digital health apps, and tech nostalgia. As humanists who tend to write alone, we’re excited to reflect on the benefits and challenges of collaborative writing with our larger community. If you’d like to know more, please join us at our virtual DISCO PI Panel about the book on December 14th, 2023.

We are excited to share that our network has received additional funding from the University of Michigan Arts Initiative for Search Engines, a programming initiative bringing creative technologists to University of Michigan’s campus, and the Mozilla Foundation for co P.I. Remi Yergeau to develop a course on crip computing. We hope you are as excited as we are for this upcoming year and we invite you to join us in celebration of our network at the DISCO Summit in June (more information coming soon).

If you’d like to get more involved with the DISCO Network:

  • Subscribe to our newsletter to receive our event announcements and project updates.
  • Follow the DISCO Network on X, formerly called Twitter, for invitations and links to our talks, workshops, and publications. You can also follow our X list of DISCO Network folks.
  • Sign up to become a DISCO member or apply to become a DISCO research affiliate.

— Lisa Nakamura