I participated in the UNESCO - LiiV Center Partnership Launch event last Friday - 90 participants according to the organisers.
Statistics on their side - 50% Western Europe & North America, 17% Central & Eastern Europe, the rest spread around.
Context - UNESCO and LiiV Center created a partnership to promote the innovation in the digital anthropology.
The first period is “a four-year collaboration to unleash a global movement, unifying an academic discipline, and raising awareness of its power to create a more ethical, cohesive, empathetic society” […] and they are “looking for motivated experts and changemakers in social science, humanities, data science, public policy and private sector leadership around the world to build this movement.”
Not clear if and how the funding of projects will work.
Among the speakers:
Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO
Gillian Tett - a Financial Times journalist and author of Anthro-Vision, a New Way to See in Life and Business, 2021.
James Ingram, CEO LiiV Center
Sydney Yeager - professor at University of Central Arkansas and Hendrix College and a founding member of DANG - US digital anthropology association group.
Anthony Kelly - L’Atelier BNP Paribas
Used a conversational tool called Remesh - basically a real time survey which creates top lists of answers - with the participants asked to express their opinion on some of the other people’s answers too.
Extracts from the interventions:
Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO has a goal of “upgrading analytical models to understand better the world and the digital world”:
- how many digital communities are created, how many ways are open here
- we see the outcomes, need to understand the drivers
- serves for a safer and more reliable digital world
- Governments are relying on AI to get to better decisions. In the past, always relied on statistics – now a great tool of AI
- It is a promise
- It comes with human bias, cultures, experience, context – created by humans, therefore the need to understand data & contextualise
- Data in public services – health, public systems etc
- Behaviours can be caused by belonging to certain communities/tribes with obvious downsides
- Digital anthropology gives governments a deeper level of empathy
- Training DA in UNESCO nations and working with the govts
- The instruments are needed to make sense of the world, understand complexities, make member states take better decisions
Member states of UNESCO have issued their recommendations for the ethics of the artificial intelligence, which will be submitted for approval to the general assembly this November.
Keynote: Gillian Tett - a Financial Times journalist and author of Fool’s Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe in 2009 & Anthro-Vision, a New Way to See in Life and Business, published in June 2021, a peek through anthropological lens on the behaviour of organisations, individuals, and markets.
- There is no difference in “real” between virtual and physical worlds.
- Example: teenagers’ usage of the cell phones examined by Dana Boyd (US anthropologist) - for the teenagers in USA who live a very constrained life, cyberspace offers freedom of movement - therefore the necessity to look at the real space and the cyberspace to comprehend the behaviour.
- Tech is changing our own cultural dynamics:
- In the online life - not only the tribal characteristics, we tend to customise them (Playlist as opposed to the cassettes or radio) - the customisation with the tech accent creates a tendency towards a pick and leave attitude
- Much of silicon valley is barter economy, swapping data for services
- Need to change the terms for barter trade for the consumers – portability, open source
- No AI platform can invent a good joke – the jokes are about social allegiances and tribes, work on the conflicting layers of our cultural consumptions
- In a world with jokes, culture matters – even and especially for techies
- The pandemic has shown us you can’t solve it by only medical science – you need behavioural science to get to effective solutions. Including issues like climate change, policies and goals.
Anthropology needs to be a lot savvier, clearer in the methods of communication – although anthropologists see life in the shades of grey, their teasers should present also b/w images
James Ingram: How to establish the connection between digital anthropology, innovation and policies?
- Same challenge faced everywhere: the tools do help better decisions – need them bigger, faster, stronger to get them at scale, with the awareness of the call of science
- As a prof – interdisciplinary classes with the students aiming to become policymakers in the long run. Among the founding members of DANG - US digital anthropology association group
- Works on digital identities, social media presence
- Old anthropology school which did not initially accept the digital and the virtual as real life arrived to understanding with the 2016 election (Trump) – completely blindsided by their own circle
- AI ethics is influenced by who is designing it – the way in which the programs, biases etc are built in the AI
- Example – job applications – AI relieved of the bias? No, it is built by people – values are different. Influences potential careers and livelihoods.
- Education, racism, sexism, etc – languages under bias, gap times in a resume – baaad (but can be family responsibility)
An economy and society built on a massive amount of data is a reality
Why do policy makers fail to understand policies? How can DA help?
Sometimes, systems work exactly as they are planned. Internal and external pressure on them (sometimes things cannot be said, sometimes they cannot be heard around the productions of policies)
Now – a strong discourse around of failed public polling – misapplication
Highlights – DA are anthropologists interested in networks, systems, holistic analysis, etc.
What does it mean to work on social data, what does it tell us?
The digital side of things – pretty slow for people to accept that what is virtual is also real and it needs to be understood
COVID – a perfect example: all kinds of info people are interacting online with – a lots of questions exploded creating a super hybrid media space
The distinction between online and offline is very problematic – different kinds of people, different kinds of ways of interacting with both etc. The concept of context needs a little bit of addressing.
LiiV came back to my proposal to have a call and see if there are possibilities of collaboration and are suggesting this week. @nadia, @alberto, @hugi, @amelia