I’ve had some good news: I heard this summer that I am going to receive an ERC grant from the European Research Council. This means I get to do five years’ work on the idea of data justice (the link leads to a paper that explains in more detail what this might be).
There are several currents of thought at the moment about what data justice is and why we might want to better define it (see here and here for some leading groups working on this question), but they all go in different directions and address different problems. My objective with this project will be to find overarching principles that can link together the work going on around the world that is trying to think through what we want data technologies to do for us, what we don’t want them to do, and how to achieve that.
This is going to be a largely conceptual project, but it will be based on insights from individuals, activists, technology developers and policymakers around the world. We are going to ask people in different regions what they find positive and negative about the way data technologies are developing, and we are going to try to figure out why they feel that way, and how their perspective relates to others.
Our starting point will be this:
These are the main ideas that are coming out of current research as important to the way people think about data’s potential. We should be visible in ways that benefit us, but also have privacy when visibility is counter to our interests. We should be free to use data technologies in ways that we choose, but should not be used by those technologies. Finally, we should have the ability to challenge discrimination, and should also be guarded from discrimination by those in charge of governing technology development and use.
This project is going to be a huge and wonderful challenge, and one that will hopefully bring together a lot of people thinking about data and justice from around the world. I’m excited to begin, and I welcome your thoughts and ideas on how to do it!