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Digital Care and Cruelty
Featuring: Virginia Eubanks (SUNY, Albany), Sasha Costanza-Chock (MIT), Joanna Redden (Western). Our host for the evening will be Alissa Centivany (Western).

What good can big data, automation and artificial intelligence do for individuals in need of social assistance and what harms can it perpetuate?

The first in our Big Data at the Margins series explores the impacts of artificial intelligence, big data and digital technologies on those in need of social supports and resources in smaller towns and cities across Canada. Increasingly, cash-strapped city governments are outsourcing decisions about who can receive social benefits, such as housing, health, or other social services, to privately-owned software providers. While these outsourced, algorithmically determined decisions may expedite and equalize access, they are not transparent and can contain unacknowledged biases. As a result, people in need can find themselves on the wrong end of an opaque decision they are unable to challenge.

Our internationally recognized panelists will address the impact of algorithmic design and implementation and its uncritical adoption by governments on practices of social provisioning and patterns of social and economic marginalization more broadly. Virginia Eubanks, Associate Professor in the Department of Women's Studies at the University at Albany, writes extensively about the impacts of automated digital systems on homelessness, poverty and incarceration in the United States. Sasha Costanza-Chock, Associate Professor of Civic Media at MIT, examines the ways in which these systems reproduce well-established social and economic biases in their technological design, and Joanna Redden, co-founder of the Data Justice Lab and assistant professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western, examines the ways digital technologies can enhance, or disrupt, relationships between citizens and governments.

Jan 28, 2021 07:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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