technology ethics

Agency & Tech Colonialism: Extending the Conversation

“What can those of us who work in, and maybe even love, computing cultures do about computing’s colonial expansions?” Sareeta Amrute’s keynote address “Tech Colonialism Today” opened EPIC2019 in a provocative, mobilizing spirit that inspired discussions on stage, in breakout sessions, and around breakfast tables. Sareeta journeyed across time and territory to explore what characteristics make something colonial to begin with, such as extractive and hierarchical systems. As you might guess, she argued that yes, the tech industry today has core colonial attributes. But goal wasn’t just critique; Sareeta showcased counterconduct—the agency that people, communities, and companies have to build alternatives. If colonial legacies and socioeconomic systems seem a bit “out of scope” as context for standard product or user research projects, check out Sareeta’s award-winning book Encoding Race, Encoding Class. You’ll learn about Meena’s daily tea ritual, hear Bipin describe why he sometimes chooses to write bad code,...

Tutorial: Ethics in Data-Driven Industries

EMANUEL MOSS CUNY/Data & Society FRIEDERIKE SCHÜÜR Cityblock Health Overview Technology companies have discovered ethics in the wake of public pressure to consider the consequences of their products. This has been prompted by the finding that machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI) systems, as fundamentally pattern-seeking technologies, can and do exacerbate long-term structural inequalities. Companies and employees also struggle with the challenges posed by the dual-use nature of technology. This tutorial will prepare you to understand and contribute to the more ethical development and deployment of ML/AI systems. It covers: An overview of ethical challenges in ML/AI today An introduction to the development of ML/AI systems, designed to give you insight into the reasoning processes and workflows of technical colleagues and how they generally address issues like accuracy and fairness (no quantitative background required!) A overview of current efforts to design more ethical ML/AI systems,...

Tech Colonialism Today

EPIC2019 Keynote Address, Providence, Rhode Island SAREETA AMRUTE, Director of Research, Data & Society; Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Washington Studies on the social effects of computing have enumerated the harms done by AI, social media, and algorithmic decision-making to underrepresented communities in the United States and around the globe. I argue that the approaches of enumerating harms and arguing for inclusion have to be unsettled. These approaches, while important, frame populations as victims whose existence is dominated by and divided from centers of power. We lack a structural analysis of how these harms fit into a larger social economic pattern. I ask us to consider instead whether all of these harms add up to computing technologies today being one of the largest aspects of a colonial relationship today. Using historical evidence, the talk will consider what makes something ‘colonial’ to begin with, and then weigh corporate computing’s relationship with the world to gauge whether...

Reconceptualizing Privacy

EPIC2019 Panel, Providence, Rhode Island Moderator: KEN ANDERSON, Principal Researcher, Intel Corporation Panelists: LIZ KENESKI, Head of Privacy Research, Facebook Inc. PETER LEVIN, Principal Researcher, Autodesk ELENA O’CURRY, Senior User Researcher, Uber JEFF SOKOLOV, Designer & Researcher, IBM Watson Health Algorithmic systems are increasingly integrated into the physical and digital infrastructures of our lives. The borders of privacy are being pushed and redefined, provoking new debate about what privacy is. All corporations claim privacy is important, but what does that mean? Panelists will consider what privacy might look like or mean when individuals are tied into multiple networks, both human and AI. KEN ANDERSON, panel chair, is an anthropologist, who is a Principal Engineer in Next Generation Standards at Intel Corporation. He does pathfinding at the intersection of technology, strategy, and the human experience to drive towards creating technology that enables us to have richer relationships,...