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Virtual event

Technology and civic engagement – double book launch with the Ada Lovelace Institute

Dr Alison Powell and Dr Daniel Greene in conversation to discuss their new books

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'The Promise of Access' and 'Undoing Optimization' book covers
Date and time
4:00pm – 5:15pm, 28 April 2021 (BST)

Dr Alison Powell (LSE), Director of the JUST AI network and author of Undoing Optimization: Civic Action in Smart Cities (2021, Yale UP), and Dr Daniel Greene (University of Maryland), author of The Promise of Access: Technology, Inequality, and the Political Economy of Hope (2021, MIT Press), will be in conversation on the topic of civic engagement. The conversation is chaired by Dr Dylan Mulvin (LSE) with an introduction from Octavia Reeve (Ada Lovelace Institute).

Speakers

  • Dr Alison Powell

    Director of the JUST AI network and Associate Professor in Media and Communications at the LSE
  • Dr Daniel Greene

    Assistant Professor of Information Studies at the University of Maryland

Chair

  • Dr Dylan Mulvin

    Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at the LSE

Introduced by

We are delighted to celebrate the launch of Undoing Optimization: Civic Action in Smart Cities (Yale University Press, 2021) and The Promise of Access: Technology, Inequality, and the Political Economy of Hope (MIT Press, 2021).

Alison Powell (London School of Economics) and Daniel Greene (University of Maryland) will be in conversation to discuss their new books, which span topics including the ongoing dynamics of technological citizenship, civic action, tech-driven solutions, local regulations and the politics of communication and data technologies.

In Greene’s forthcoming The Promise of Access: Technology, Inequality, and the Political Economy of Hope, he draws on five years of research within Washington D.C.’s schools, libraries, and start-ups to explore how the digital workforce is being trained, and how this mission changes the spirit and structure of public institutions. Why do we keep trying to solve poverty with technology? Greene shows that the idea that economic dislocation can be solved with the right tools and the right skills, what he calls the ‘access doctrine,’ persists despite repeated failures because it helps public institutions manage the contradictions of a changing economy. Building a fairer economy will require organising across the racial and class barriers obscured through talk of digital divides or skill gaps.

Greene’s work is in dialogue with Alison Powell’s new book, Undoing Optimization: Civic Action in Smart Cities (Yale University Press, 2021), which focuses on the value of technology in civic life, and investigates how local governance extols technological approaches at the expense of local communities. Powell argues that the de facto forms of citizenship that emerge in relation to these technologies represent sites of contention over how governance and civic power should operate. The undoing of optimization, for Powell, explains why and how citizenship shifts in response to technological change, and particularly in response to issues related to pervasive sensing, big data, and surveillance in ‘smart cities’ – and how new forms of solidarity may begin to emerge.

Live (real-time) captioning will be provided for this event. If you have questions or requests for access, please contact: lhickman@adalovelaceinstitute.org

About the JUST AI Network

The programme JUST AI (Joining Up Society and Technology in AI) is an independent network of researchers and practitioners, led by Dr. Alison Powell (LSE), and supported by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Ada Lovelace Institute. The humanities-led network is committed to understanding the social and ethical value of data-driven technologies, artificial intelligence, and automated systems. The network builds on research in AI ethics, orienting it around practical issues concerning social justice, distribution, governance and design, and seeks thereby to inform the development of policy and practice.