Faculty of Humanities

Exploring how artificial intelligence affects our lives

Social scientist Gabriele de Seta is looking at how we interact with digital media in everyday life. Now he is awarded the Prize for Young Researchers for his outstanding work.

Gabriele de Seta - vinner av Prisen for unge forskere 2021
PRIZE WINNER: Gabriele de Seta is awarded the Prize for Young Researchers 2021.
Janne-Beate Buanes Duke

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“I am humbled by this nomination, relieved to still count as ‘young’, and honored to qualify as ‘promising”, prize winner Gabriele de Seta says.

Link between east and west

As a researcher, de Seta explores the links between Eastern and Western understandings of digital culture. He has spent many years learning about Chinese language and culture and has lived and studied in both Europe and Chinese-speaking areas for the past ten years.

When de Seta was doing his master's studies, he spent a year in Shanghai to do research on experimental musicians. This was also when he started realizing that digital media were also playing a key role in Chinese social life and decided to explore what digital culture meant in China, and how it was different from the English-language meaning of the term.

“My interest emerged from living in China for a while and using local social media, apps and platforms. But just as for other aspects of social and cultural life, there is no clear and definite difference between ‘East’ and ‘West’, since these imaginaries are constantly changing. This is the tension I am constantly grappling with”, de Seta says.

In the crossing of culture and technology

The dual cultural competence which de Seta possesses is rare. At the same time, there is a growing demand for researchers who can communicate between continents. Perhaps the need is even greater within the area of digital culture.

“The challenge with digital culture is that it is influenced by, on the one hand, a tech industry which aims for global expansion and profits across markets, and on the other hand, people who use technologies in everyday life, and their contexts are very different in economic, societal and political terms”, de Seta explains.

De Seta is both productive and creative in his work and has already proven to be highly influential already in his career. His articles have been cited over 400 times, according to Google Scholar. Gabriele de Seta is currently associated with what he describes as his dream project, Machine Vision in Everyday Life. In this five-year funded ERC project, he researches how machine vision technologies are developed, used and represented as part of our everyday lives.

Tailor-made dream project

“Machine vision is very different from the human sense we are familiar with, and comes with a heavy baggage of biases, limitations, and unexpected outcomes. So, it is quite urgent to examine how we decide to include machines that see in our social worlds”, de Seta says.

His current role in the project is to examine the Chinese machine vision industry and the role that these technologies play in Chinese society.  The task fits perfectly with his competence and makes this a dream project for de Seta.