Technology in the Public Interest

Project Duration: Fall 2020 → spring 2021
Funded By: Research Communities Funding: COVID-19 / Quintin Hogg Trust

In response to the spread of COVID-19, governments, public health organisations and Big Tech companies are developing infrastructures for contact tracing such as apps, image recognition for social media, urban sensing and call-centres. These technologies will reorganise everyday life, and call for a reframing of what counts as public interest. This research projects asks:

Through interviews, two workshops (London and Brussels) and a webinar we will gather accounts of in-the-making modes of technologies in the public interest. Drawing on trans*feminist, queer and anti-colonial perspectives, the research project develops tools for political and creative agency in situations perceived as in the public interest but outside of public intervention.

We will work with activists (specifically groups organising with refugees and around Anti-Racist, Trans, Queer and Sex work), artists and technologists, to ask what creative forms of organising, and infrastructures are being built from past experience into new approaches. How are these practices not just responding but also proposing new modes of organising technology in the public interest? And how effective are these creative responses or new infrastructures?