This is part of my continuing series to highlight things I see pass by on Twitter that I think are of interest to social workers with interest in futures topics. You can look at other recent posts on this topic here, where I collect and share signals.
(One) Love this news from Helsinki and Amsterdam – a public interest technology approach to the algorithms that operate in public spaces/public services. I can definitely see a future in which social workers are meaningfully involved in this kind of accountability- and equity-building civic and democratic structures. This is a future I like. A related piece explores “how democracies can claim back power in the digital world,” and another tackles the intersection of algorithms and fair housing laws. The idea of interrupting the power asymmetry that is so ubiquitous in the “tech vs. anything” equation is important in all spaces – but especially so in civic and/or government functions. This article is a concise overview to increase your civic tech literacy. Finally, a related new report from researchers Sasha Costanza-Chock, Diana Nucera, Berhan Taye Gameda, Matt Stempeck, and Micah Sifryis called “Pathways Through the Portal” gathered expert advice from field leaders, including data scientists and technologists, artists and activists, researchers and policy advocates about how an ethical, equitable and democratic tech future for communities might be possible.
(Two) Serious question: “Who owns your face?” While it seems like a silly question – with the increasing use of facial recognition technology, what rights do individual people have to their own image? This issue is related to police powers, privacy and a host of other concerns facing contemporary communities including storage of such images. This brief recorded piece about this topic – and makes some suggestions about future policy related to facial recognition. Here’s another piece on the same topic. Here’s yet another example of the related equity issues/racism that pops up each week with use of this kind of tech.
(Three) “Techlash” isn’t about people being simply angry at tech – it is about a fundamental power shift that is happening in nondemocratic ways all over the world. This particular article goes deep on exploring the issues of growing power differentials across the ecosystem exacerbated by tech and the work ahead to rectify it. Essential ideas to continue to think through – strong connection to the book “Future Politics” which readers of this blog know is one of my favorites.
(Four) Great new read from Futurist Amy Webb about why budgeting for foresight in organizations is more important than ever before. With a world full of increasing disruptions, volatility and uncertainty – learning the skills to navigate through a futures lens is an essential part of modern life. Another piece by Kristel Van der Elst offers a similar piece on how to plan during uncertainty. (Here’s a bonus offering with a very practical futures exercise you can try right now!)
(Five) What happens when a whole community comes together for a day of “collective dreaming” about the future? This article talks about this very thing – via an experiment conducted by a group of futurists in England last year. “The outcome was a Futures Bazaar, a Star Wars-esque collection of fictional artefacts coming from multiple futures, each specifically designed to ask a question, or provoke debate.”
(Six) So many aspects of life have been turned upside down through the Covid-19 experience. This article explores the intersections of work and well-being in the future – integrating work shifts that have come about from the pandemic as well as other accelerations.
(Seven) An infuriating look at climate change response comes in this piece which discusses the “luxury air business” – highlighting the degree to which suffering in the face of is not distributed equally. A related piece discusses increasing anger and deep resentment from growing inequality and its intersections with climate change, racism and more.
(Eight) The future of families is among the most important issues for the future. Here’s a couple of recent pieces that explore the burnout that so many families are facing during times of covid-19 and other related disruptions. In a related publication, the Institute for the Future has a fine new report out just in the last few weeks on the future of families.
(Nine) What happens after Covid-19? This blog has collected a variety of resources related to forecasts and various future-related interpretations of post-covid life. I especially love this new map – also from IFTF – which touches on some of the deeper issues that have been revealed (racism, deep inequality and more) that must be addressed in order for recovery to occur. Another important article hails from scholar Dr. Alondra Nelson drawing creative, complex and urgent ideas together about what recovery might look like.
(Ten). Many folks are talking about the new Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma.” It is an important critique and I’ve heard that many are finding the film thought provoking, but based on my own review, I’m concerned about lack of inclusion of many important voices and experts of Color (mentioned previously on this blog) including Dr. Ruha Benjamin, Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble and Dr. Joy Buolamwini. I liked this review which highlights some of these missing pieces, as well as this one. A new film coming out this fall is called Coded Bias, and delves deeply on the subject with special effort to include such experts – largely women of Color – and racism embedded in algorithms influences equity in everyday contexts. You can view the trailer for the film here. It will be a must-see for social workers.