Alexander Campolo


I am a postdoctoral researcher on the Algorithmic Socities Project, dirceted by Dr. Louise Amoore in the Department of Geography at Durham University. Here is my most recent CV. You can contact me at

I was previously a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute on the Formation of Knowledge at the University of Chicago. I received my Ph.D. in 2019 from the Department of Media, Culture & Communication at New York University, where I was also a research assistant at the AI Now Institute.

My research and teaching span the history of media, science, and technology during the twentieth century as well as topics in philosophy and social theory, especially French thought. I focus on connections between the history of computing and the history of the human sciences: technologies that produce data and the forms of knowledge and expertise that mobilize them for political ends.

At Durham, I am exploring the ways that machine learning is transforming social theory and basic ethical concepts. In particular, I am interested in ways that genealogies of statistics, probability, and computing shape machine learning societies. I am working on the concepts of error and loss and also the political implications of a shift in forms of knowledge (and conduct) based on rules to those based on examples...

Writing and translation

"Thinking, Judging, Noticing, Feeling: John W. Tukey Against the Mechanization of Inferential Knowledge." Know: A Journal on the Formation of Knowledge 5.1, Spring 2021, 83-111.

"Flattening the Curve: Visualization and Pandemic Knowledge." Formations: The SIFK Blog, April 2, 2020.

"Signs and Sight: Jacques Bertin and the Visual Language of Structuralism," Grey Room no. 78, Winter 2020, 34-65.

"Enchanted Determinism: Power without Control in Artificial Intelligence," with Kate Crawford, Engaging Science, Technology, and Society vol. 6, 2020, 1-19.

Patrice Maniglier, "Structure," trans. Alexander Campolo in Oxford Handbook of Modern French Modern Philosophy, Mark Sinclair & Daniel Whistler, eds.(forthcoming).

Anna Longo, "Deleuze and Mathematics," trans. Alexander Campolo, La Deleuziana 11, Spring 2020.

"AI Now 2017 Report," with Madelyn Sanfilippo, Meredith Whittaker, and Kate Crawford, October 2017.

Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze, "General Introduction to Nietzsche's Complete Works," trans. Alexander Campolo, Nietzsche 13/13, November 2016.

"The Critical Attitude," Foucault 13/13, February 2016.

My dissertation and current book project, Visualization: How We Came to See the World as Data, analyzes how data visualization emerged as a response to a crisis in scientific knowledge knowledge in the postwar period. While most histories of the Cold War sciences focus on militarized cybernetic rationalities, algorithmic optimization, or formal modes of objectivity, this project follows a heterodox group of thinkers who instead studied limits to rationality and the inability of digital computers to solve complex problems. As an alternative, they developed techniques to approach data through visual experience. It concludes by reflecting on empiricism and power in an age of data: how vision and rationality have come to be understood in terms of information, how we might resist both governmentality by algorithm and political projects that seek to turn the limits of perception, cognition, and reason into obedience. My advisor on this project was Erica Robles-Anderson, and my committee members were Alexander Galloway and Stephen J. Collier. Natasha Dow-Schüll and Matthew L. Jones generously served as outside readers.