Upcoming Events

IC Spring Seminar Series with Guest Speaker Cindy Lin



Climate change has rapidly undone human control and suppression of environmental disasters. From hurricanes to wildfires, these volatile disasters have called for governments worldwide to revamp their approach to managing climate risks, ranging from the deployment of AI to predict fire weather to the use of global monitoring platforms to detect deforestation. Nowhere is rapid climate change more evident than in Indonesia, where the growing frequency and severity of peatland fires have impacted global carbon cycles and spurred technologists, scientists, and government agencies to use AI for fire prediction and mapping. How do these actors build and/or understand AI in the fight against climate change, and how can we align the use of such technologies with equitable and sustainable values? In this talk, I show how industry and government computer engineers and environmental scientists work together to predict one of the world’s most volatile and disastrous wildfires: tropical peatland fires in Indonesia. Contrary to popular critiques of AI as a force for eliminating jobs and replacing governments, I argue that the volatility of peatland fires has configured experts into new formations of labor, governance, and expertise in Indonesia. Further, I discuss how my work with Global South experts has informed the development of AI frameworks and data infrastructure for large-scale environmental and climate governance. I end the talk by describing plans for achieving equitable and sustainable climate action on a warming planet. 


Cindy Lin is an Assistant Professor at the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Pennsylvania State University. She is an information scientist and ethnographer with an interdisciplinary background, focused on the intersection of HCI and Social Computing, AI ethics, critical data studies, and science and technology studies to advance our understanding of AI and sustainability. Her work has been featured in premier computing conferences and humanistic journals, including ACM CHI, CSCW, and DIS, as well as Social Text. She has also published two co-authored books entitled Technoprecarious (MIT Press/Goldsmiths Press, 2020) and Digital Energetics (University of Minnesota Press, 2023). At the University of Michigan, she earned a PhD in Information and a graduate certificate in Science, Technology, and Society. Before joining Penn State, she was a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Information Sciences and the Atkinson Center for Sustainability at Cornell University and a visiting fellow at the Digital Life initiative at Cornell Tech.