Information, technology and society
A broad range of factors influence the development and uptake of technological innovations and how these shape organisational processes and social practices. Researchers in the Department aim to develop new accounts of these factors, while attending to the effects of technologies in a diverse (from airports to consumer credit to universities) and global (including Africa, Europe, and Australasia) set of contexts. Several foci cut across research in this area including:
- The relationship between new technology and organisational practices. For example Brian Bloomfield and Theo Vurdubakis have analysed the potential consequences of the use of artificial intelligence and robotics in work and warfare. Lara Pecis has looked at the role of mobile devices in relation to work-life balance and employees’ emotions.
- The social effects of increasingly mobile data and digital information. Research by Joe Deville considers the consequences of lenders’ increasing use of ‘big data’ analytical methods to assess borrowers’ creditworthiness. Researchers have also looked at the role of information and satellite technologies in controlling tropical deforestation (Niall Hayes and Theo Vurdubakis) as well as the disposal of both nuclear waste (Brian Bloomfield and Theo Vurdubakis) and electronic waste (Martin Brigham and Alison Stowell).
- How technology is variously shaping bodies and environments, and the ethical questions that arise with technological change. For example, research by Brian Bloomfield and Karen Dale looks at how the adoption of ‘smart drugs’ in working environments changes our understandings of ‘normal’ and ‘extreme’ types of work. Research by Yvonne Latham looks at the ethical questions which arise when computing technologies are used to improve the ‘social inclusion’ of disabled people.
The Department hosts the Centre for Technological Futures which brings together researchers from across Lancaster University interested in questions about information technology and society.