Helsinki Distinguished Lecture Series on Future Information Technology: Aaron Quigley, "Global HCI"

The Helsinki Distinguished Lecture Series on Future Information Technology is organized by HIIT, a joint research institute between University of Helsinki and Aalto University.
Helsinki Distinguished Lecture Series


Global Human Computer Interaction is the study of HCI when considering global challenges, languages, concerns, cultures and different economic drivers. Digital technologies now underpin the human experience around the world. This talk explores new technologies and the next generation of interfaces beyond the desktop, in a global context.

Today, computers and communications are weaving themselves into the fabric of life. However, the nature of this weaving is far from uniform, distributed or even fair. Yet, the study of HCI transcends borders. A technology designed for use by what might be considered an affluent group with cheap broadband and a regular power supply can easily be co-opted by a low income group with irregular network and power supply, to much greater effect. Today, applications can launch in one country and quickly face adoption barriers due to bias which has been baked in by language, assumptions of how family life works, culture, economic models, regulation or social mores.

Our use and indeed reliance of technology is not new. Indeed, it is one of the defining characteristics of humans and society, our fashioning of tools, instruments and technologies to help shape our world and lives. This talk provides a critical reflection on technologies and the visions and visionaries in computation over the past 4,000 yrs. Consider, for example, that over the past six centuries the world’s population has grown approximately twenty fold, our average life expectancies have tripled and our use of technology has become evermore interwoven into everyday life. However, these average life expectancies vary by 40 years across the globe, access to even basic health care varies dramatically, our use of resources is markedly different as is our access to technology to support our work or life. Many of the improvements many of us take for granted would feel quite futuristic for those living in need. As the author William Gibson puts it, “The future is already here it’s just not very evenly distributed”. However, human history is intimately linked with our use of tools, techniques or more broadly technology. Our built environment is shaped by human’s use of technology. Each time we introduced new, difficult to master, alien technologies, then became in time really quite unsurprising, invisible and prosaic aspects of our lives. Looking back, while we consider the future, is instructive as it helps us to appreciate and not fear our reliance on and use of technology.

Today we live in an interconnected world where an interface or experience designed for a local well understood group can easily end up being used in a distant place by people whose lives or use of the interface one cannot quite imagine. This talk provides an introduction to human computer interaction in a global context. These cross cutting themes are guides for the design, development or deployment of any interactive system. These aspects are not intended to stymie or limit ones creativity or problem solving but instead are opportunities to draw new insights on the problems we face, while considering the global deployment and use of the solutions offered. Often today people value design and experience beyond any feature list and this talk will help you understand and prepare for this global world.

Aaron Quigley

About the Speaker

Professor Aaron Quigley is the Chair of Human Computer Interaction in the School of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. He is co-founder of SACHI, the St Andrews Computer Human Interaction research group. His research interests include discreet computing, global HCI, pervasive and ubiquitous computing and information visualisation on which he has delivered over 50 invited talks.

Aaron is the director of the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA) which is a collaboration of 14 Scottish Universities. In addition, he is a general co-chair for the ACM CHI conference in Yokohama Japan in 2021 and is the outgoing ACM SIGCHI Vice President for Conferences.

Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT
  • Published:
  • Updated: