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Talk at the iconic Volksbühne theatre on AI for the common good

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On May 6th, I will be heading to Berlin to help launch the School of Disobedience initiative and fittingly it will be at Berlin's most iconic theatre - Volksbühne, home to art and activism in Germany for over a century. The event will feature a conversation with Lorena Jaume-Palasí , the founder of The Ethical Tech Society, a non-profit focused on the social impact of technology and Advisory Council member of AI for the Spanish government. 

We will be speaking about AI for the common good. I will be giving a talk before hand on the Next Billion Users, drawing from my new book on how this population will push us to rethink what constitutes as "good" practice in AI futures. Currently, artificial intelligence delivers lots of material for projections about the future of societies. It seems to disrupt our concept of space, time and borders. Predominant is the view that AI will become or even is already a tool to create dystopias of oppression. However, this is only the view o…

Keynote at the BRESTOLON symposium network

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Was nice to head back to ZEMKI Bremen where I did my fellowship last year to give a keynote talk on The Next Billion Users book with Harvard Press. This was for the BRESTOLON network which is an interesting formation of academic networks to sustain mentorship across diverse academic cultures and countries. The quality of questions and engagement was wonderful and am thrilled that one can accomplish such a network - a rare feat today! Basically, Brestolon is a research network collaboration between members of the Media and Communications Departments of Södertörn University(Stockholm, Sweden); Bremen University (Bremen, Germany); London School of Economics (London, UK), and Goldsmiths, University of London(London, UK) and Catholic University of Portugal (Lisbon, Portugal). The network was launched in 2013 with a grant by the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Reserach and Education (STINT). Since then, it has gathered annually at the member universities in Stockholm (tw…

Book launch at Athenaeum bookstore in Amsterdam

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Seems like these days I am having a lot of "first" moments. My first studio talk with BBC, which will be broadcast in the next few weeks and then my first talk at a book store. Had my book launch at the Athenaeum bookstore  in Amsterdam. Was such an interesting experience. Completely casual and intimate. A load of chairs and comfy couches clustered tightly together so you could have a real conversation with people. The audience was eclectic from retired people, tech entrepreneurs, media agencies, students, academics, and just folk interested in the topic. The format was smart - Tina Harris, an anthropologist from University of Amsterdam engaged me in a conversation before we opened it up for questions. Nicely done overall. What better way to officially launch my book than to do it in such a lovely setting in my favorite city that I call home now!

New paper on Data-Based Governance out in First Monday

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Hallam Stevens from Nanjang Technological University and I co-edited a Special Issue in First Monday, one of the first Open Access journals on the internet. The theme of this issue is "Data-driven models of governance across borders: Datafication from the local to the global."

In essence, this special issue looks closely at contemporary data systems in diverse global contexts and through this set of papers, highlights the struggles we face as we negotiate efficiency and innovation with universal human rights and social inclusion. The studies presented in these essays are situated in diverse models of policy-making, governance, and/or activism across borders. Attention to big data governance in western contexts has tended to highlight how data increases state and corporate surveillance of citizens, affecting rights to privacy. By moving beyond Euro-American borders — to places such as Africa, India, China, and Singapore — we show here how data regimes are motivated and unders…

First Book Reviews out with Times Higher Ed & E&T magazine

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Am thrilled to read these positive reviews of my new book "The Next Billion Users: Digital Life beyond the West" with Harvard University Press.  It is particularly wonderful to see one of the reviews emanate from the well read Times Higher Ed. 
I am also glad to see the Engineering and Tech magazine take this book up (as well as Tech Crunch a few weeks ago), which signals to me that the tech industry has a growing interest in broadening their worldviews beyond the technical aspects to that which is ethical, cultural and may I even dare to say, philosophical. I really am looking forward to future engagements with engineers, programmers and other stakeholders at the forefront of shaping our digital platforms.
Times Higher Education “This powerful book explores actual online lives in China, India and Brazil and asks why many of us in the West are surprised and sometimes offended by the fact that the impoverished are just as committed as we are to the search for “moments of plea…

Podcast with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)

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The podcast interview with Nora Young from Spark Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is now out. You can listen to it by clicking here.
As the number of people who are connected to the internet around the world grows, the 'next billion' users are likely to be in the developing world, young, with low incomes, and accessing the internet on mobile devices. Payal Arora (Damjan Svarc) In her new book, The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond the West, digital anthropologist Payal Aroralooked at the way young users actually use the internet in a number of developing-world countries, from Brazil to Saudi Arabia. She argues that we in the West have a lot of preconceptions about how those users do — or 'ought to' — behave online. Arora spoke with Spark host Nora Young. The core of your book is that there's a belief in the west that people in the developing world are using the internet for research, education, to find work, practical things. Overall, what did you find …

Book talk at the 10th anniversary of Nantes Institute for Advanced Studies

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It was an honor to give my book talk at the special occasion of celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Nantes Institute for Advanced Studies.  The overriding theme was to "Think the world differently."

It was a large gathering and nice mix of their past and current Fellows spanning 10 years, private sector companies and media persons brought together to discuss investment in the future of this region and its transformation brought by an influx of new technologies and people.

I spoke on my book 'The Next Billion users: Digital life beyond the West' By Harvard University Press as part of the “Digital culture, humanist culture” panel. The theme of this panel was as follows "Digital technology stupefies us with its promises and its threats, particularly for the humanities. Testimonials, demonstrations and viewpoints from the South to help us think differently."

There was a brief introduction by Françoise Rubellin, the director of the Institute and professor at…