Designing future AI, or accommodating to what we think is inevitable?
Event is online-only.
A recording of the talk can be viewed below:
This exploratory talk probes how perspectives from social sciences could help in designing better AI, especially for urban contexts. In recent years, numerous urban studies scholars have criticized technology-led development agendas steering the development of cities. One of the most powerful of these agendas is the smart city, a globally spread urban development program and an epitome of urban digitalization. Urban research has pointed out that smart city can strengthen societal inequalities and lead to unjust cities. It has been argued that smart city development is often realized top-down, without paying attention to city inhabitants’ specific needs, perspectives and local life-words, and that it undermines ethical questions related to, for example, free, open public space and privacy. Further, we must note that the smart city is becoming a synonym for AI City as the application of AI technologies finds its way to an urban realm in the form of autonomous vehicles, or as a tool for processing citizen data. Within the most dystopic interpretations, we arrive at the urban version of Bentham’s panopticon: city inhabitants become merely data producers whose every movement, action and emotion are tracked, analyzed in opaque ways, and used to benefit companies and (authoritarian) governments. Although the smart city takes many forms across the globe and is always affected strongly by the local political, legal, social and cultural context, these concerns must be taken seriously also in the Nordic countries. Against this rather bleak backdrop, I intend to explore ways to design future cities – and also urban AI – differently. I ask, are we currently focusing on wrong things while designing the futures? By drawing from interdisciplinary research and perspectives provided by social sciences and humanities, I aim to shed light on the role of cultural and social novelties and experimentation, as well as on the profound role of values, that all could – and should – play a more central role when we are building our futures.
Dr., Docent Johanna Ylipulli is an Academy of Finland research fellow having academic roots in social sciences. She has worked for over a decade in highly interdisciplinary environments combining perspectives from anthropology of technology, design and human-computer interaction. Her interests revolve around urban digitalization, emerging technologies and participatory and speculative approaches to design. Ylipulli’s ongoing project at the Aalto University’s Department of Computer Science focuses on digital inequalities in urban contexts.