Future-forming interdisciplinary research

Breakfast Briefing: Future Data Practices – Perpetuating Inequalities or Design for Change


Dr Malé Luján Escalante
Tuesday 4th December 2018 – 9.30am

In the context of the datafication of public services, complex digital infrastructures are shaping society, promising innovation in public preparedness, but with the potential to perpetuate social inequalities and even encourage autocratic societies. Data is being processed as part of everyday life, encompassing health care, communication, energy use, food security, mobilities, as well as risk assessment and disaster management.

Data practices, far from neutral, are subjected to gender, class, race, personal history and contextual politics. Data subjects may or may not understand when and how they are providing data, what data sharing implies or even what data is. At the same time, data subjects have ideas, feelings and imaginaries, as well as diverse interests and concerns about data. At these intersections, a range of frictions arise.

Research and Innovation is struggling to address these tensions proactively, in part because the problems they are driving to solve are urgent, in part because knowledge is fragmented through sectors, cultures and countries. My work over the past couple of years informs a framework for contextual and participatory ethics of data practices in the health and emergency response domains using collaborative designerly and creative knowledge exchange methods. I will present a proposal for ‘Ethics through design’ that I have been developing in two projects, IsITethical?Exchange and SODA Project.



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