Everyday Data Cultures


Book by Jean Burgess, Kath Albury, Anthony McCosker, and Rowan Wilken: “The AI revolution can seem powerful and unstoppable, extracting data from every aspect of our lives and subjecting us to unprecedented surveillance and control. But at ground level, even the most advanced ‘smart’ technologies are not as all-powerful as either the tech companies or their critics would have us believe.

From gig worker activism to wellness tracking with sex toys and TikTokers’ manipulation of the algorithm, this book shows how ordinary people are negotiating the datafication of society. The book establishes a new theoretical framework for understanding everyday experiences of data and automation, and offers guidance on the ethical responsibilities we share as we learn to live together with data-driven machines…(More)”.

The Frontlines of Artificial Intelligence Ethics


Book edited by Andrew J. Hampton, and Jeanine A. DeFalco: “This foundational text examines the intersection of AI, psychology, and ethics, laying the groundwork for the importance of ethical considerations in the design and implementation of technologically supported education, decision support, and leadership training.

AI already affects our lives profoundly, in ways both mundane and sensational, obvious and opaque. Much academic and industrial effort has considered the implications of this AI revolution from technical and economic perspectives, but the more personal, humanistic impact of these changes has often been relegated to anecdotal evidence in service to a broader frame of reference. Offering a unique perspective on the emerging social relationships between people and AI agents and systems, Hampton and DeFalco present cutting-edge research from leading academics, professionals, and policy standards advocates on the psychological impact of the AI revolution. Structured into three parts, the book explores the history of data science, technology in education, and combatting machine learning bias, as well as future directions for the emerging field, bringing the research into the active consideration of those in positions of authority.

Exploring how AI can support expert, creative, and ethical decision making in both people and virtual human agents, this is essential reading for students, researchers, and professionals in AI, psychology, ethics, engineering education, and leadership, particularly military leadership…(More)”.

Wicked Problems in Public Policy: Understanding and Responding to Complex Challenges


Book by Brian W. Head: “…offers the first overview of the ‘wicked problems’ literature, often seen as complex, open-ended, and intractable, with both the nature of the ‘problem’ and the preferred ‘solution’ being strongly contested. It contextualises the debate using a wide range of relevant policy examples, explaining why these issues attract so much attention.
There is an increasing interest in the conceptual and practical aspects of how ‘wicked problems’ are identified, understood and managed by policy practitioners. The standard public management responses to complexity and uncertainty (including traditional regulation and market-based solutions) are insufficient. Leaders often advocate and implement ideological ‘quick fixes’, but integrative and inclusive responses are increasingly being utilised to recognise the multiple interests and complex causes of these problems. This book uses examples from a wide range of social, economic and environmental fields in order to develop new insights about better solutions, and thus gain broad stakeholder acceptance for shared strategies for tackling ‘wicked problems’…(More)”.

The Power of Platforms: Shaping Media and Society


Book by Rasmus Kleis Nielsen and Sarah Anne Ganter: “More people today get news via Facebook and Google than from any news organization in history, and smaller platforms like Twitter serve news to more users than all but the biggest media companies. In The Power of Platforms, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen and Sarah Anne Ganter draw on original interviews and other qualitative evidence to analyze the “platform power” that a few technology companies have come to exercise in public life, the reservations publishers have about platforms, as well as the reasons why publishers often embrace them nonetheless.

Nielsen and Ganter trace how relations between publishers and platforms have evolved across the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. They identify the new, distinct relational and generative forms of power that platforms exercise as people increasingly rely on them to find and access news. Most of the news content we rely on is still produced by journalists working for news organizations, but Nielsen and Ganter chronicle rapid change in the ways in which we discover news, how it is distributed, where decisions are made on what to display (and what not), and in who profits from these flows of information. By examining the different ways publishers have responded to these changes and how various platform companies have in turn handled the increasingly important and controversial role they play in society, The Power of Platforms draws out the implications of a fundamental feature of the contemporary world that we all need to understand: previously powerful and relatively independent institutions like the news media are increasingly in a position similar to that of ordinary individual users, simultaneously empowered by and dependent upon a small number of centrally placed and powerful platforms…(More)”.

Technology of the Oppressed


Book by David Nemer: “Brazilian favelas are impoverished settlements usually located on hillsides or the outskirts of a city. In Technology of the Oppressed, David Nemer draws on extensive ethnographic fieldwork to provide a rich account of how favela residents engage with technology in community technology centers and in their everyday lives. Their stories reveal the structural violence of the information age. But they also show how those oppressed by technology don’t just reject it, but consciously resist and appropriate it, and how their experiences with digital technologies enable them to navigate both digital and nondigital sources of oppression—and even, at times, to flourish.

Nemer uses a decolonial and intersectional framework called Mundane Technology as an analytical tool to understand how digital technologies can simultaneously be sites of oppression and tools in the fight for freedom. Building on the work of the Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire, he shows how the favela residents appropriate everyday technologies—technological artifacts (cell phones, Facebook), operations (repair), and spaces (Telecenters and Lan Houses)—and use them to alleviate the oppression in their everyday lives. He also addresses the relationship of misinformation to radicalization and the rise of the new far right. Contrary to the simplistic techno-optimistic belief that technology will save the poor, even with access to technology these marginalized people face numerous sources of oppression, including technological biases, racism, classism, sexism, and censorship. Yet the spirit, love, community, resilience, and resistance of favela residents make possible their pursuit of freedom…(More)”.

Strong Connections: Stories of Resilience from the Far Reaches of the Mobile Phone Revolution


Book by Rosa Wang: “…takes readers to the last frontier of the mobile/digital revolution. While much has been written about breakthrough technologies and early adopters who live where roads are good and smart phones are affordable, this book explores the largely undocumented journey of how digital technologies are entering the lives of those in extreme poverty-people, often women, often illiterate-who live without electricity or running water.

With powerful stories, Wang brings you to the front lines of the revolution-to join meetings with small-holder farmers in raucous town halls in remote parts of Tanzania, and to sit on dirt floors alongside non-literate women in rural India. The book chronicles the exponential trajectory of the mobile phone through the arc of the author’s own journey, an Asian-American woman from Mississippi navigating male-dominated environments and cultures, while changing the digital world without a background in technology. Readers will learn of the challenges that come with life on less than two dollars a day, and in that world, the transformative power of digital technologies: to give identity, improve finances, and to bring some degree of empowerment.

Along the way, the author introduces memorable individuals and guides them on their journey across the digital divide to join the mobile generation. These people, poor in monetary resources and literacy, are rich in social connections, warmth, and wisdom. Their day-to-day lives seem implausibly hard, and their resilience humbles at every turn. This book is about them. At its heart, this is their story…(More)”.

Don’t Trust Your Gut


Book by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz: “Big decisions are hard. We consult friends and family, make sense of confusing “expert” advice online, maybe we read a self-help book to guide us. In the end, we usually just do what feels right, pursuing high stakes self-improvement—such as who we marry, how to date, where to live, what makes us happy—based solely on what our gut instinct tells us. But what if our gut is wrong? Biased, unpredictable, and misinformed, our gut, it turns out, is not all that reliable. And data can prove this.

In Don’t Trust Your Gut, economist, former Google data scientist, and New York Times bestselling author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz reveals just how wrong we really are when it comes to improving our own lives. In the past decade, scholars have mined enormous datasets to find remarkable new approaches to life’s biggest self-help puzzles. Data from hundreds of thousands of dating profiles have revealed surprising successful strategies to get a date; data from hundreds of millions of tax records have uncovered the best places to raise children; data from millions of career trajectories have found previously unknown reasons why some rise to the top.

Telling fascinating, unexpected stories with these numbers and the latest big data research, Stephens-Davidowitz exposes that, while we often think we know how to better ourselves, the numbers disagree. Hard facts and figures consistently contradict our instincts and demonstrate self-help that actually works—whether it involves the best time in life to start a business or how happy it actually makes us to skip a friend’s birthday party for a night of Netflix on the couch. From the boring careers that produce the most wealth, to the old-school, data-backed relationship advice so well-worn it’s become a literal joke, he unearths the startling conclusions that the right data can teach us about who we are and what will make our lives better.

Lively, engrossing, and provocative, the end result opens up a new world of self-improvement made possible with massive troves of data. Packed with fresh, entertaining insights, Don’t Trust Your Gut redefines how to tackle our most consequential choices, one that hacks the market inefficiencies of life and leads us to make smarter decisions about how to improve our lives. Because in the end, the numbers don’t lie….(More)”

The Great Experiment


Book by Yascha Mounk: “Some democracies are highly homogeneous. Others have long maintained a brutal racial or religious hierarchy, with some groups dominating and exploiting others. Never in history has a democracy succeeded in being both diverse and equal, treating members of many different ethnic or religious groups fairly. And yet achieving that goal is now central to the democratic project in countries around the world. It is, Yascha Mounk argues, the greatest experiment of our time.
 
Drawing on history, social psychology, and comparative politics, Mounk examines how diverse societies have long suffered from the ills of domination, fragmentation, or structured anarchy. So it is hardly surprising that most people are now deeply pessimistic that different groups might be able to integrate in harmony, celebrating their differences without essentializing them. But Mounk shows us that the past can offer crucial insights for how to do better in the future. There is real reason for hope.
 
It is up to us and the institutions we build whether different groups will come to see each other as enemies or friends, as strangers or compatriots. To make diverse democracies endure, and even thrive, we need to create a world in which our ascriptive identities come to matter less—not because we ignore the injustices that still characterize the United States and so many other countries around the world, but because we have succeeded in addressing them.
 
The Great Experiment is that rare book that offers both a profound understanding of an urgent problem and genuine hope for our human capacity to solve it. As Mounk contends, giving up on the prospects of building fair and thriving diverse democracies is simply not an option—and that is why we must strive to realize a more ambitious vision for the future of our societies…(More)”.

Uncertainty


Book by Sheila Jasanoff: “From climate change to the pandemic, uncertainty looms large over our public and personal lives. It is also the core feature of democratic life: while democratic governance seemingly heightens individual power, it exposes our life chances to the uncertain activity of others. We do not exercise control over those to whom we appeal, and yet we are constantly dependent on their actions for the goods in life we seek.

Sheila Jasanoff opens a forum on uncertainty and democracy in this volume, arguing that ideas around our autonomy, our freedom, and our individual agency, particularly in the United States, obscure our dependence on others in so many ways. To recognize this political emotion is to start to see the transformative potential in uncertainty.

The debate that follows explores the ideas about uncertainty and experts in a democracy, as well its scientific, philosophic, and emotional aspects…(More)”.

Solferino 21: Warfare, Civilians and Humanitarians in the Twenty-First Century


Book by Hugo Slim: “War is at a tipping point: we’re passing from the age of industrial warfare to a new era of computerised warfare, and a renewed risk of great-power conflict. Humanitarian response is also evolving fast—‘big aid’ demands more and more money, while aid workers try to digitalise, preparing to meet ever-broader needs in the long, big wars and climate crisis of the future. 

This book draws on the founding moment of the modern Red Cross movement—the 1859 Battle of Solferino, a moment of great change in the nature of conflict—to track the big shifts already underway, and still to come, in the wars and war aid of our century. Hugo Slim first surveys the current landscape: the tech, politics, law and strategy of warfare, and the long-term transformations ahead as conflict goes digital. He then explains how civilians both suffer and survive in today’s wars, and how their world is changing. Finally, he critiques today’s humanitarian system, citing the challenges of the 2020s.   

Inspired by Henri Dunant’s seminal humanitarian text, Solferino 21 alerts policymakers to the coming shakeup of the military and aid professions, illuminating key priorities for the new century. Humanitarians, he warns, must adapt or fail….(More)”.