Automating the Social: Digital Futures for Welfare, Disability, Social, and Health Services

Friday 10 May, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

MECO Seminar Room, S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

RSVP via Eventbrite

This event will be live streamed with captions on Facebook. To view, follow the MECO Research page on Facebook.

In recent years, we have seen the rise of automation, and associated developments in digital technology, data, and AI, being imagined and deployed to reshape the face of welfare, disability, health, and social services. Major programs in governments departments such Social Security and Health, the ambitions and realities of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and initiatives by private, not-for-profit, and NGO providers and organizations, involve reconfiguring service delivery and support via automation and digital innovations. Already there are many changes and benefits in people’s lives from these new systems and digitally-supported economies of care and support, yet there are key challenges and potential losses also – not least from the kind of new power relationships, failures in accountability and participation, and foreclosure of the complex aspects of people’s lived experience that such systems and practices are supposed to respond to and enhance.

In this timely event, we will hear from leading figures in various areas where new regimes of automation are rapidly proceeding – and will have the opportunity for an interactive discussion to identify and debate key issues to be addressed, and options for how we might shape these emerging technical and social systems in humane and fair ways.

Speakers:

Paul Henman is Associate Professor of Digital Sociology and Social Policy, and Principal Research Fellow in the Centre for Policy Futures, The University of Queensland. For over 20 years, his research has examined the nexus of information technologies, public administration and social policy. His publications include Governing Electronically (Palgrave 2010) and Performing the State (Routledge 2018). His current research deploys novel digital methods to understand the web ecology of government and human service delivery.

El Gibbs is Media and Campaigns Manager at People With Disability Australia. PWDA is a national disability rights, advocacy and representative organisation that is made up of, led and governed by people with disability. Founded in 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons, People with Disability Australia provides people with disability with a voice of our own. PWDA has a cross-disability focus representing the interests of people with all kinds of disability and is a non-profit, non-government organisation.

Leanne Dowse is Professor and Chair in Intellectual Disability and Behaviour Support [IDBS] at UNSW where she has been a researcher since 1995 and an academic since 2008. Leanne’s research and publications apply models of critical inquiry to the study of disability and in particular, intellectual or cognitive disability. Her work utilises a multidisciplinary approach to investigate social justice issues for people with complex needs. In particular her work addresses the intersections of disability with mental illness, acquired brain injury, homelessness, social isolation, early life disadvantage, experience of out of home care, substance misuse and violence. Her work is particularly concerned with the ways these intersect for Indigenous Australians with intellectual disability, for women with disabilities, those in the criminal justice system, and people with complex behaviour support needs. Leanne has been and is chief investigator on a number of major Australian Research Council, NHMRC, and Federal and NSW government funded grants over the past 10 years.

Wayne Hawkins is Disability Policy Advisor with the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN). Wayne has led ACCAN’s work on telecommunications access for consumers with disability, telecommunications affordability and emergency services. Prior to joining ACCAN Wayne was National policy officer with Blind Citizens Australia. Wayne is a doctoral candidate at Sydney University researching Australian telecommunications and disability policies.

Gerard Goggin is the inaugural Professor of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney, a position he has held since 2011. Gerard’s research focusses on social, cultural, and political aspects of digital technologies, especially the Internet and mobile media and communication, and disability and accessibility. He has published 20 books and over 170 journal articles and book chapters. As well as his academic roles, Goggin has had a twenty-year involvement in communications and telecommunications policy, including appointments as a board member of the Disability Studies and Research Institute (DsaRI), foundation board member of the peak organization Australian Consumer Communication Action Network (ACCAN), deputy chair of the self-regulatory body Telephone Information Services Standards Council (TISSC), and member of the Australian e-Research Infrastructure Council (AeRIC).

Media@Sydney

Live Captioning for Media@Sydney

Posted by MECO Research on Thursday, 9 May 2019

Automated Decision Making and Society – Julian Thomas

Friday 15 March, 2019, 3.00pm – 4.30pm

MECO Seminar Room, S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney

RSVP via Eventbrite

Digital media industries are at the head of a new wave of automation, driven by an expanding array of intelligent technologies, from deep learning to blockchains. Automation promises great benefits, but concerns abound over the prospects of industry disruption, increasing inequality, declining productivity, and diminishing economic security. With the rapid expansion of automated decision making, new risks to human rights and welfare are emerging. This talk reviews current developments in automation, and considers the ways in which researchers in media studies may contribute to the emergence of ethical, responsible and inclusive automation.

Julian Thomas is Professor of Media and Communications at RMIT University. He leads the Technology, Communications and Policy Lab in RMIT’s Digital Ethnography Research Centre. Julian’s recent publications include Internet on the Outstation (INC, 2016), Measuring the Digital Divide (2016, 2017, 2018), The Informal Media Economy (Polity, 2015), and Fashioning Intellectual Property (Cambridge UP, 2012). He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, and is actively involved in a wide range of consumer, research and policy organisations in the technology and communications sectors.

Fast Data, Slow Bodies: Automation, Humans, Machines

Fast Data, Slow Bodies: Automation, Humans, Machines

Roundtable discussion by: Caroline Bassett (University of Sussex), Helen Thornham (University of Leeds) and Edgar Gómez Cruz (University of New South Wales)

When: Fri. 20 April 2018 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm AEST (Discussion will be followed by informal drinks in the John Woolley Building)

Where: MECO Seminar Room S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney, NSW 2006

Registration Required on Eventbrite

This roundtable with Caroline Bassett (University of Sussex), Helen Thornham (University of Leeds) and Edgar Gómez Cruz (University of New South Wales) stems from the provocation that automation as an (almost) ontological condition is shaping our ability to intervene in, or ask questions about the (digital) world. Automation is understood through a number of related and trans-disciplinary approaches to the ‘post-digital’ (Cramer); big data (Gitelman, boyd and Crawford), digital ethnography and anthropology (Horst & Miller, Pink et. al., Hine), critical computational studies (Sterne, Clough), science and technology studies (van House, Suchman). It is engaged with the critical and methodological, material and computational issues that emerge from the lived condition of ‘being digital’ particularly in relation to how automation (as forms of expertise and data; as configured systems, infrastructures and interfaces; as disciplined and material bodies) is positioning us in particular ways, and configuring a particular kind of world. More specifically, the discussants are concerned with the methodological and theoretical implications of this conditioning: in what this means for our ability to ask critical questions ofautomation; in what this means for the broader narrative of digital culture and the methods we utilise for interrogating it in the future. Drawing on expertise from digital media ethnographies (Gómez Cruz), critical software studies (Bassett) and feminist digital ethnography (Thornham), the authors draw on case studies in response to UK government initiatives around the digital economy. These preliminary ideas form the base of a book to be published, with the same title, in 2019 (Palgrave).

Caroline Bassett is Professor of Digital Media at the University of Sussex and Director of the Sussex Humanities Lab. Her research explores digital technology and cultural transformation. She is currently completing work on anti-computing, defined as a popular and critical response to automation, and is collaborating on a project exploring feminist technophile politics. She has published extensively on gender and technology, critical theories of the technological, on automation and expertise, and on science fiction and technological imaginaries.

Helen Thornham is an Associate Professor of Digital Cultures at the University of Leeds, UK. Her research focuses on gender and technological mediations, data and digital inequalities. Herforthcoming book, Gender and Digital Culture: Irreconcilabilities and the Datalogical (2018) explores issues of maternal and female subjectivity through datalogical systems.

Edgar Gómez Cruz is a Senior Lecturer in Media (Digital Cultures) at the UNSW in Sydney. His research covers a wide range of topics related to Digital practices using ethnographic and visual methods. Currently he is carrying out an ethnographic fieldwork with street photographers, focusing on visual interfaces, the right to the city and urban interactions.