Digital Innovation and the Curse of the Smart Machine
It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times
London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
Extensive digital “land grabs” are facilitating evermore intimate codified and algorithmic relationships between the analogue and digital aspects of ourselves, each other and the world we inhabit in general. The increased digitising is presenting both new possibilities, but also significant challenges, for research within the social study of technology. The aim of this keynote will be to outline the most important of these challenges. The talk will argue that digital innovation already now is challenging our current research practices to move beyond a fixation on studying the smart machine.
Dr Carsten Sørensen is Reader (Associate Professor) in Digital Innovation within Department of Management at The London School of Economics and Political Science (carstensorensen.com). He also holds visiting professorships at University West and Halmstad University in Sweden and is 2015/16 a recipient of an Otto Mønsted Visiting Professorship at Copenhagen Business School. Carsten holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Aalborg University, Denmark. He has since the 1980s researched digital innovation, for example innovating the digital enterprise through mobile technology (enterprisemobilitybook.com), and the innovation dynamics of mobile infrastructures and -platforms (digitalinfrastructures.org). Carsten has published widely within Information Systems since 1989 (scholar.carstensorensen.com), for example in MIS Quarterly, ISR, ISJ, JIT, Information & Organization, The Information Society, Computer Supported Cooperative Work, and Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems. He is presently Senior Editor for The Information Systems Journal. Carsten also has extensive experience as a Principal Investigator on a number of national, EU, and industry research grants in the UK and Sweden with a total budget of over £3million. He is a member of the Board of Directors of LSE Enterprise (www.lse.ac.uk/enterprise) and special advisor to the Customer Contact Association. Carsten as for a number of years been engaged in assisting and assessing digital start-ups and has for 25 years been actively engaged in academic consultant and executive education with a broad range of organisations – IMF, Microsoft, Google, PA Consulting, Orange, Vodafone, Intel, GEMS, to name just a few.
Eleanor H. Wynn
New Practices, Old Wisdom
Portland State University, US
The techno-utopian vision of superintelligence assumes all intelligence is rational and the part that isn’t can be emulated. A core capability of the future will be to have the philosophical awareness to resist the pull of this kind of hyper-rationality. With technological development proceeding faster than consequences can be assessed, laws can be passed, or ethics disputed, it becomes urgent for computer professionals to possess classical as well as contemporary thinking skills. Developers will need to understand the implications of the technology they create. And users must understand what they are doing, not just technically but systemically. This will require individuals and teams to respond quickly to new information, and at the same time, with more depth--an apparent contradiction. A formative context is essential to this capability: a basic understanding of human concerns. Specific skills include the following: scanning, assessing, curating, connecting with others, and being aware of the relationship between technologies and each other and with the social environment. Let’s call this technological mindfulness. It is critical because of the massive processing abilities implied in interconnected automation and large scale data, with the concurrent limitations of interpretation. The practice is to manage rapidly changing complexity with all its levels of emergent phenomena. For that, we need technologically aware humanists and life-aware technologists. An individual can only do so much. Communities of practice--trusted, embodied groups that share assumptions, values, and ways of doing--are more important than they ever were. We will review examples of these contradictions and needs.
Eleanor Wynn has conducted research on many issues in social computing. She chanced across this path as a graduate student in Linguistic Anthropology at UC Berkeley, when she was hired as an intern at Xerox PARC. Since that first conversation analysis of what is now called collective intelligence in a Xerox Service Center, she has done in-house primary research on workplace perspectives for software development at three large corporations: Xerox, Bell-Northern Research and Intel Corporation, and as a consultant, for many others. While at Intel, she explored new methods for understanding user and organizational needs in the context of virtual teams, social search and social networks, agent-based modeling, and machine learning to track how users navigate applications. Her last project at Intel, to find a method for measuring information worker “productivity” ended in failure, but lessons were learned.
She was Editor-in-Chief of Information Technology & People for more than 20 years, encouraging critical hermeneutics and qualitative methods as well as global participation. Currently retired and doing independent research, she is preoccupied with the overreach of superintelligence and surveillance, and the drift away from humanities education that ought to inform these.