EPSRC NetworkPlus on Social Justice through the Digital Economy

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Computing

Abstract

Technological advances in Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, have already given rise to extensive socio-economic transformation and new and emerging technologies, such as distributed ledgers and the Internet of Things, are set to further revolutionise the information and service economy, and public services. Yet, technological innovation has the potential to also dis-benefit the most vulnerable, amplify existing forms of injustice and create new forms of exclusion in socio-economic life, thus further exacerbate socio-economic inequality and social division.

That the whole of society benefits from progress in the Digital Economy is national priority, both morally and economically as those who are most vulnerable have the greatest need of opportunities for socio-economic participation. Taking a Social Justice approach, this NetworkPlus focuses on how the design of new and emerging technologies in the Digital Economy, and their application, can empower, emancipate and more equitably distribute opportunities for economic development to all citizens, consumers and employees. This EPSRC NetworkPlus: Social Justice through the Digital Economy aims to bring together and resource partners from academia, industry, government and civil society to understand, explore and respond, together, to the potential of new and emerging technologies to make the UK socio-economic life fairer for all.

The NetworksPlus activities will focus on three challenge areas: Algorithmic Social Justice; Digital Security for All; Fairer Futures for Businesses and Workforces.

Algorithmic Social Justice examines fairness in the design and application of AI algorithms in automated and semi-automated decision-making processes. It asks how can large data sets be classified and interpreted to inform, for example, care or health interventions programs or city planning and how can AI algorithms be made less opaque and criteria used to design them fairer and transparent.

Digital Security for All investigates new and better ways to model digital security that increase people's sense of agency, while meeting their security needs and protection of assets in public and commercial online service delivery. For example, this challenge area asks in what ways can online services be designed to better support people's sense of agency and trust, while assuring security in sharing personal data online.

Fairer Futures for Businesses and Workforces considers how new 'sharing economy' platforms can be designed to realise more ethical business models and equal opportunities for economic development. For example, this theme asks what platforms can be designed to support peer-to-peer markets places that cater for those who have little or no assets; and what are the implications for a fair workforce representation in the digital era.

The NetworkPlus will enable new ways to support effective collaborations between academic and non-academic communities and organisations through a range of activities, including a curated series on events in the three thematic priorities and an innovative and more directed process of project commissioning. The NetworkPlus will deliver curated events and activities-including symposia, hands-on workshops, theory-hacks and design and development sprints, aiming to increase capacity, upskilling and foster trans-disciplinary dialogue, knowledge exchange between academic and non-academic communities as well as. The NetworkPlus will deliver a novel curated commissioning process of activities designed to support EPS doctoral researchers and Early Career Researchers developing impactful project proposals in partnership with industry, government, third sector and civil society.

Planned Impact

The beneficiaries of our NetworkPlus: Social Justice through the Digital Economy NetworkPlus are social justice clients (e.g. Charities, National Government bodies and Local Authorities), technology and digital service providers (e.g. SMEs, National and Global Corporations) as well as (formally) un-constituted groups and organizations currently at the margins or altogether excluded from participation in technological innovation and opportunities for socio-economic growth and development (youth, adults with complex needs, aging population, low paid workers, etc.). The NetworkPlus brings value to its beneficiaries through its activities and outputs as follows.

(i) Public, private and third sector organisations and their service users will be able to explore the real-world problems they currently face within each identified challenge area with other experts and organisations who have different expertise but similar concerns through NetworkPlus activities (Symposia, and Open Event Program's Workshops, Theory Hacks and Design and Development Sprints);

(ii) Public, private and third sector organisations and their service users will benefit from participating in pilot /micro projects that directly responds to the specific challenges they face within each identified challenge area: e.g. qualitative studies to better understand issues of fairness in algorithm design and its applications; frameworks for the design and application of AI algorithms within a social justice framework; rapid prototyping and testing of novel and emerging technologies and/or the reconfiguration of existing technologies that applies social justice principles in automated decision-making or that create spaces for agency and trust in online services; new insights to inform policy recommendations for fairer business models and workforce representation in the digital economy.

(iii) NetworkPlus partners not directly involved in a micro/pilot project will benefit from NetworkPlus projects outputs (all with open IP), through our dissemination activities and through NetworkPlus parterns who will advocate and disseminate outputs to their own external networks.

(iv) Through our commissioned policy papers from all projects outputs, the NetworkPlus will benefit and contribute to the ongoing work of advocacy organizations, think tank and regulatory bodies working in each identified challenge area.

(v) Youth groups, primary and secondary school pupils will benefit from the NetworkPlus Youth Engagement Program. The pupils directly involved in our Youth Engagement pilot activities will benefit from spaces to both learn about the issues the NetworkPlus tackles and participate and influence digital innovations arising from NetworkPlus projects; the learning material that will be produced from the Youth Engagement Programme, will be then be piloted by 20 more schools (delivered by schools) with a view to a larger roll out.

(vi) Through our Project Assessment Citizen Panel and through our Community Champion engagement work, marginalized and underserved citizens will have a voice in shaping digital innovations that can ameliorate their lives.

Organisations

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description ACM Interactions article on 'Deep Digitality' by Alan Dix 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Alan Dix, Not Equal Co-I, wrote an article for ACM Interactions on 'Deep Digitality' and how we reimagine a radical digital future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://interactions.acm.org/archive/view/january-february-2019/deep-digitality#comments
 
Description Alan Dix Keynote on 'Deep Digitality' at the Irish HCI Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Alan Dix, Not Equal Co-I, presented a keynote on 'Deep Digitality' at the Irish HCI Conference in November 2018. This keynote included topics investigated by the Node Equal challenge area 'algorithmic social justice'. This included discussions on gender and ethnic bias in black-box machine-learning systems, as well as more recent developments such as deep learning and concerns such as those that gave rise to the EPSRC human-like computing programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://irishhci.wordpress.com/programme/
 
Description CSCW-Power Struggles in the Digital Economy 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The one-day workshop was arranged in collaboration with our Co-I (Prof Ann Light) and engaged interested scholars in the theme of power struggles in the digital economy, from defining the struggles, to discussing the issues to suggesting ways to overcome or mitigate these struggles. There was a general social justice orientation with a perception that workers, workforces and unions/organising are all being undermined by the advent of the platform economy and a will to do something about it. Principally, it was a theme setting workshop and we now have two recorded sessions describing the issues of concern to a group of ECRs from different parts of the Global North, as well as a discussion about what can be done which was fed back into the network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://cscw2018digitaleconomy.wordpress.com/
 
Description Inaugural Lecture (Prof Lizzie Coles-Kemp) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact It was a lecture and it was intended to inform a diverse audience about the relevance of designing inclusive models of digital security. It presented some of the implications of exclusive design and highlighted some of the techniques necessary for an inclusive approach. The main objective of the lecture was to set out a vision for digital security that runs counter to the orthodoxy of digital security as an approach. The most significant outcome was to layout an inclusive digital security position that can be used as the basis for further follow-up events and collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/research-and-teaching/departments-and-schools/information-security/n...
 
Description London Launch Symposia 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Not Equal held two events in January 2019, both in Newcastle and in London, to mark the launch of the Not Equal project and the first call for collaborative research proposals as part of the Open Commissioning Programme.

This event was an opportunity for Network+ partners to come together and share ideas on possible practical responses to issues flagged up by partners within each challenge area; as well as hear about the funding criteria, process and support available.

The events featured provocative talks from invited speakers and experts from academia, civic and civil society, who shared their views on the social justice dimensions of emerging technology design and application and the challenges facing us today.

The events followed the same agenda but with different speakers and panel members.

Not Equal's London launch event on the 29th January. Many of the attendees were from academia but there were also representatives from third sector and industry. Some of the organisations that were represented included National Ugly Mug's, New Economic Foundation, Proboscis and the Digital Catapult.

The event was opened with a keynote address on the issues of social justice in the digital economy from Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne and Central Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation.

Following on from the keynote we then had a panel discussion with representatives from academia including Kutoma Wakunuma (Senior Lecturer and Researcher at De Montford University), Rachel Franklin (Professor of Geographical Analysis at Newcastle University), Jamie Woodcock (Researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute) and the third sector Froi Legaspi (Community Organiser for Citizens UK), who posed provocative questions for our attendees.

The afternoon agenda for both events included lightening talks from the Co-Investigators of Not Equal Professor Alan Dix, (Director of the Computational Foundry at Swansea University), Lizzie Coles-Kemp (Professor in Information Security at Royal Holloway University), Ann Light (Professor of Design and Creative Technology at the University of Sussex). They discussed the challenge areas of Algorithmic Social Justice, Digital Security for All and Fairer Futures for Business and Workforces and how key topics from the challenge areas had been incorporated into the call for proposals. This was followed by a briefing session on Not Equal's commissioning process.

Both events had workshop activities in which attendees were able to set a challenge to the network and encouraged to work in tables to group their challenges according to commonalities and differences. This led on to working group activities later in the day in which attendees could generate ideas for expressions of interest and encouraged cross disciplinary collaboration.

Following on from our launch events, a number of attendees plan to submit collaborative proposals for Not Equal's first funding call.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Newcastle Launch Symposia 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Not Equal held two events in January 2019, both in Newcastle and in London, to mark the launch of the Not Equal project and the first call for collaborative research proposals as part of the Open Commissioning Programme.

This event was an opportunity for Network+ partners to come together and share ideas on possible practical responses to issues flagged up by partners within each challenge area; as well as hear about the funding criteria, process and support available.

The events featured provocative talks from invited speakers and experts from academia, civic and civil society, who shared their views on the social justice dimensions of emerging technology design and application and the challenges facing us today.

The events followed the same agenda but with different speakers and panel members.

Not Equal's Newcastle launch event was on the 31st January and there was a clear mix of sectors represented with attendees from academia, the third sector, the public sector and from industry. Some of the organisations in attendance included VODA, Changing Lives, Sunderland City Council and Northumbria Police.

The event was opened with a key note address on 'Advancing social justice in an age of datafication' from Lina Dencik, Founder of the Data Justice Lab at Cardiff University.
The Newcastle panel discussion had a representative from academia in Bettina Nissen (Interaction Design Lecturer at the Edinburgh University) and the third sector Matt Stokes (Senior Researcher at NESTA) and Karen Wood (Parker Trust).

The afternoon agenda for both events included lightening talks from the Co-Investigators of Not Equal Professor Alan Dix, (Director of the Computational Foundry at Swansea University), Lizzie Coles-Kemp (Professor in Information Security at Royal Holloway University), Ann Light (Professor of Design and Creative Technology at the University of Sussex). They discussed the challenge areas of Algorithmic Social Justice, Digital Security for All and Fairer Futures for Business and Workforces and how key topics from the challenge areas had been incorporated into the call for proposals. This was followed by a briefing session on Not Equal's commissioning process.

Both events had workshop activities in which attendees were able to set a challenge to the network and encouraged to work in tables to group their challenges according to commonalities and differences. This led on to working group activities later in the day in which attendees could generate ideas for expressions of interest and encouraged cross disciplinary collaboration.

Following on from our launch events, a number of attendees plan to submit collaborative proposals for Not Equal's first funding call.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Newcastle Trans-disciplinary Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The workshop provided an opportunity to hear about Not Equal and help shape its agenda and activities. We invited researchers from a variety of disciplines (social sciences, engineering, design, arts and humanities, computer science, law and business) to come together and share perspectives on on issues of social justice in the design and application of new and emerging technologies. The workshop included initial talks from the Dean of Social Justice at Newcastle University and the Not Equal team, followed by group activities designed to facilitate participants to share disciplinary perspectives to generate ideas for potential collaborative cross-disciplinary responses. The main outcomes involved 15 attendees signing up to the network and the potential for collaborative cross-disciplinary projects for Not Equal's call for proposals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://not-equal.tech/the-data-is-out-there-but-how-is-it-being-used/
 
Description Not Equal 'Show and Tell' Event at Royal Holloway, University of London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The workshop was intended to provide an opportunity for academics to talk to the Not Equal team about network activities and funding opportunities. The event also allowed attendees to provide feedback on funding focus and the types of collaborative projects that might be of interest. The workshop activities provided several new provocations/issues from the Not Equal challenge areas that can be incorporated into the Not Equal agenda. The event also allowed 17 attendees to sign up as network partners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Parker Trust Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Parker Trust is a charity based in Sunderland that provides advice and assistance for vulnerable members of society. It also organises programmes of physical, educational, social activities. Not Equal held a workshop with Parker Trust members and the public to engage attendees on the broad topic of computer supported decision making. The attendees were invited to share their experiences through 'computer says no' scenario and exploring what they would change in the digital economy. The responses from attendees at the workshop were tailored into the network agenda and future community based activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description The Bits Leak Out-Swansea Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact In this one-day event, interested participants heard and shared current research on the ways digital infrastructures affect social justice, explored what trans-disciplinary responses may be required for technology to support social justice, and influenced the agenda and funding process of Not Equal. The workshop activities included discussions into the issues raised from the non-academic survey responses, speakers from Google and Ulster University. Outcomes for the event included 15 new network members and potential future project applications for Not Equal's call for proposals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://not-equal.tech/navigating-potential-biases-in-algorithm-driven-processes-the-bits-leak-out-w...
 
Description The Collaborative Economy Symposium-Clara Crivellaro Keynote 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Clara Crivellaro, Not Equal PI, attended The Collaborative Economy Symposium at Sheffield Hallam University and presented a keynote on Not Equal 'A model for democratising innovation through collaborative commissioning of research'.

The symposium brought together interested participants to hear about current research on the topic of the collaborative economy and its implications and to discuss possible joint initiatives and projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://luiginaciolfi.net/
 
Description V&A Digital Design Weekend 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the V & A design week, Not Equal hosted a table at the event and delivered drop-in engagement activities to invite members of the public to contribute to the debate on social justice in the digital economy and how we might respond to the issues in our everyday lives. Participants were asked to reflect on the boundaries of what may be considered just or unjust in the uses of smart devices in everyday life, there were over 21 responses from participants who listed unjust technologies and 12 from those who listed just technologies. Not Equal also had 28 attendees sign up to the network during the event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.vam.ac.uk/festival/2018/london-design-festival-2018