Live Event Series: Technology and Power
In fall 2021, TEC Talks was produced as a virtual live event series on the theme of “Technology and Power.” Many thanks to the Notre Dame-IBM Tech Ethics Lab and ThinkND for partnering with us on this series.
You can access videos of the events below.
7. Privacy and Power (December 6, 2021)
Guests: Albert Fox Cahn (Surveillance Technology Oversight Project), Carissa Véliz (University of Oxford)
The proliferation of smart devices—not just phones but TVs, home security cameras, and more—has led to the collection of personal data on an unprecedented scale. This erosion of privacy has far-reaching implications for our society, political economy, and justice system, but there may be ways for individuals and communities to take control of their data and reclaim their privacy.
We explored the current challenges and potential solutions around data collection and privacy with Albert Fox Cahn, executive director and founder of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, and Carissa Véliz, associate professor in philosophy at the Institute for Ethics in AI at the University of Oxford.
6. Workers and Power (November 22, 2021)
Guests: Ali Alkhatib (University of San Francisco), Karen Levy (Cornell University)
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on essential workers: grocery workers who keep shelves stocked with food and cleaning supplies, truckers who transport goods across the country, and sanitation workers who maintain city streets and sidewalks. Increasingly, these workers are subjected to workplace surveillance technologies that purport to increase efficiency by following their routes, precisely timing their breaks, and making just-in-time shift changes.
This edition of TEC Talks welcomed Ali Alkhatib, director of the Center for Applied Data Ethics at the University of San Francisco, and Karen Levy, assistant professor at the School of Information Science at Cornell University, to discuss the impact of these technologies on workers.
5. Bias and Power (November 8, 2021)
Guests: Ifeoma Ajunwa (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Apryl Williams (University of Michigan)
While algorithms and artificial intelligence are often touted as neutral and unbiased decision-making tools, research such as Dr. Joy Buolamwini and Dr. Timnit Gebru’s Gender Shades project illustrates that these technologies rarely perform equally well across all populations and demographics. The impacts of these performance differences can have far-reaching consequences in the workplace, in court, and even in the online dating pool.
We explored the industrial, legal, cultural, and social implications of this research with Ifeoma Ajunwa, professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and Apryl Williams, assistant professor in the Department of Communication & Media and the Digital Studies Institute at the University of Michigan.
4. Corporate Responsibility and Power (October 25, 2021)
Guests: Vanessa Perry (George Washington University), Lauren Rhue (University of Maryland)
Companies—especially those with digital “platform power”—wield an enormous influence over economic, political, and social life in the United States and globally. The massive scale and attendant data collection of these platforms, often coupled with the use of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies, have given rise to concerns about violations of privacy, bias, discrimination, mis- and disinformation, and more. Can these companies evolve their business models to operate more securely, responsibly, and ethically?
We discussed challenges and opportunities with Lauren Rhue, assistant professor of information systems at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, and Vanessa Perry, special advisor to the Dean’s Office, professor of marketing, and professor of strategic management and public policy at the George Washington University School of Business.
3. Machine Learning and Power (October 11, 2021)
Guests: Abeba Birhane (University College Dublin), Noopur Raval (New York University)
Machine learning purports to make accurate predictions and decisions about everything from prison recidivism rates to cancer diagnoses to mortgage approvals. But time and time again, scholars, activists, and journalists have demonstrated that machine learning algorithms often digitize and replicate inaccuracies, historical prejudices, and institutional harms. With so much on the line, machine learning models and the data used to train them may deserve more scrutiny.
Abeba Birhane, Ph.D. candidate in cognitive science at University College Dublin, and Noopur Raval, postdoctoral research fellow at the AI Now Institute at New York University, joined us to explore the challenges of machine learning ethics.
2. Identity and Power (September 27, 2021)
Guests: Yussuf Bashir (Haki na Sheria), Nanjala Nyabola (Independent Writer and Researcher)
How do you prove that you are who you say you are? As our world becomes increasingly digitized, automated, and algorithmically operated, digital identity schemes are becoming an important form of personal identification. But without good governance frameworks in place, digital identity schemes may threaten the privacy, security, and human rights of individuals and communities.
This conversation featured Yussuf Bashir, executive director of Haki Na Sheria, an NGO based in Garissa, Kenya, and Nanjala Nyabola, a Nairobi-based independent writer and researcher, discussing the risks and opportunities of digital identity.
1. Artificial Intelligence and Power (September 13, 2021)
Guest: Luke Stark (University of Western Ontario)
Luke Stark, assistant professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario, joined Kirsten Martin, director of the Notre Dame Technology Ethics Center, and Elizabeth Renieris, director of the Notre Dame-IBM Technology Ethics Lab, to explore the implications of facial recognition technologies, affective computing, and corporate funding in AI research.