Machine learning for activists

School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe
in conjunction with The Influencers



A two-day workshop with Gene Kogan
Barcelona, 19-20 October 2016


This workshop aims to introduce the field of machine learning, with a focus on the techniques and critical issues of interest to journalists, activists, and citizen scientists.
Over the last few years, machine learning technologies have trickled out of research labs and into our daily lives. They are widely used in internet and social media applications like content filtering and recommendation, investment and finance, scientific research, and increasingly in unexpected places, such as law enforcement via so-called predictive policing.

Many jobs done by humans are increasingly being automated as well; as these machines continue to claim more responsibilities from us, their influence on our lives will continue to grow indefinitely, pushing us to investigate and educate ourselves about how they work, so we can make informed decisions about how to integrate them into society.
This workshop is split into two components.
The first is a technical one, which will introduce neural networks and natural language processing, and how to code basic routines for sifting through massive amounts of text data (like from newspapers, social media, document dumps, etc). We will learn how to analyze, cluster, and visualize large amounts of information to help us understand data.
The second is a discussion-based component addressing the social and ethical implications of these algorithms. How does content recommendation in social media influence public opinion? How does bias in training data affect the quality of ML systems? How do we deal with job loss as sectors of the workforce are automated? These and other questions will be addressed, with supporting reading materials given.
Wednesday October 19 & Thursday October 20
approximately from 10am to 5pm (TBC)
75 € (discount price for students and unemployed 50 €)
Should I register or I can just show up?
You should register before October 14.
How do I sign up?
Send an email to with your name and a brief explanation of why you are interested in this workshop. We will give you instructions about the payment.
If I register I am automatically in?
On October 14 at the latest we will let you know. We will try to accept as many applications as we can, yet the workshop will work better with 10 to 15 participants. Applications will be accepted on a first-come-first-served basis.

For any inquiry or doubt, please don't hesitate to email or