New technology for social justice field scan published in 2018 called “More than code” by a coalition of organizations concerned with intersections of tech, equity and ethics. Excellent resource – good reading and important set of ideas and resources for us in social work.
Here’s a concise overview of the San Fransisco banning of facial recognition tech story (2019) in case you haven’t been tracking this news. This article believes it was the right thing to do and offers cogent defense of a world that suggests we are WAY better without this tech in place.
Artificial intelligence, work and the future of inequality is a piece that dives deeply into the intersection of these three issues. Imagining a world in which the meaning, availability and compensation for work is changing so dramatically should be something we are tracking in social work – potentially impacting many areas of our practice.
Ran across the work of Lorraine Chuen while scanning for data justice information. Her presentation indicates she’s a tech designer, researcher and writer in this space. She has some excellent information on the interplay of design thinking and tech justice. My favorite part of her presentation are some “design justice principles” which I have sensed are truly a missing piece in the design thinking frameworks I’ve seen increasingly being utilized in social work spaces. These include:
- We use design to sustain, heal, and empower our communities, as well as to seek liberation from exploitative and oppressive systems.
- We center the voices of those who are directly impacted by the outcomes of the design process.
- We prioritize design’s impact on the community over the intentions of the designer.
- We view change as emergent from an accountable, accessible, and collaborative process, rather than as a point at the end of a process.
- We see the role of the designer as a facilitator rather than an expert.
- We believe that everyone is an expert based on their own lived experience, and that we all have unique and brilliant contributions to bring to a design process.
- We share design knowledge and tools with our communities.
- We work towards sustainable, community-led and controlled outcomes.
- We work towards non-exploitative solutions that reconnect us to the earth and each other.
- Before seeking new design solutions, we look for what is already working at the community level. We honor and uplift traditional indigenous, and local knowledge and practices.
I ran across two different stories about international efforts to come together to establish guidelines for the future of AI. In one, a group of countries including the U.S. just came together to determine priorities and guidelines for the future deployment of artificial intelligence. This group did not include China. The announcement of these “democratic principles for AI” were announced at a recent meeting in Paris. Another such effort did include China and was organized by the World Economic Forum. Most interesting to compare the interpretation of both the challenges and the solutions of how to prepare for the challenges, dangers and opportunities AI will introduce into the world. This development reminds me of, but neither is nowhere near as wide reaching, as Amy Webb’s push for a global dialogue, structures and agreements in her book The Big Nine, which I reviewed earlier in this blog (and which I HIGHLY recommend).
Do we need a “tech diet?”
This is a fun and creative piece that is not wholly against tech – but does challenge the reader to be discriminating about what is happening when we engage – and continue to develop evolving and deepening “digital literacies for our own well being. I loved the format – most engaging. This is relevant not only to us – but challenges us to think about the role we might play in digital literacy/empowerment/agency with vulnerable people that we work with.
The future of health care
This piece is an excellent and thought provoking piece about trends related to the future of health care. As social workers – these are exciting frames to imagine what is possible in terms of delivering new tech and medical breakthroughs to reduce human suffering, and extend both the length and quality of human life. That said, I found myself wondering throughout the article (as often happens) how these advances will be distributed, who will have access to them and who will not, how privilege will play out? It doesn’t diminish the richness of the evolution of this science, but it does challenge us to keep an equal eye on ground level public health and improving conditions for those least likely to access high end breakthroughs.
The next big technology revolution (well one of them…)
I’m considering starting a regular feature on these blog entries called “OK this will just blow your mind.” This is a resource that is in that category. A former MIT president, Dr. Susan Hockfield (a neurobiologist) has a new book just out called “The Age of Living Machines.” She suggests that the next big revolution will be (and is) the convergence of machines and biological elements. Essentially technology built out biological parts. See what I mean – mind blowing! Many interesting applications that can improve the quality of human life – and probably put us at risk too. Hello ethics progress – I hope you’re coming along on this journey. Here’s an overview of her work and insight into her book. Interesting tidbit woven into this piece – the world’s energy needs are expected to double by the year 2050.
Futures Thinking Frameworks
Here’s an article that invites the reader to consider a framework called “critical uncertainties” to anticipate impacts of artificial intelligence in the future. The author describes this as a framework that “…allows us to consider a few plausible futures and become more resilient to the challenges they hold. It reduces the risk of blind spots and unwelcome surprises. It can also help us identify ways in which we can proactively shaping the future.” (Woeffray, 2019). I’m always interested in exploring new ways to think about things – and find that this ongoing scanning and consideration of ideas like this can be one of the most valuable parts of getting social work as a profession to simply “try out” some methods and frames that might stretch our sensibilities.