Research

This page features rotating highlights from projects involving ESC researchers:

 

Embodisuit

Most wearables harvest data from their users to be sent and processed elsewhere. The Embodisuit flips this paradigm, allowing its wearer to map signals onto different places on their body. Informed by embodied cognition, the suit instead receives signals from an IoT platform, and each signal controls a different haptic actuator. It both critiques and offers an alternative to current trends in wearable technology. Knowledge is experienced ambiently without necessitating the interpretation of symbols by the conscious mind. The suit empowers wearers to reconfigure the boundaries of their selves strengthening their connection to the people, places, and things that are meaningful to them.

Big-DIG

Big-DIG (Big Data, Innovation and Governance) works at the intersection of communication, information, and policy studies to generate data-driven knowledge on innovation diffusion, impact and governance in the world-system. Key investigations include digital rights activism after the Arab Spring and China’s social credit system. Our research involves the application of cutting-edge data science and field research techniques to the mapping of investments in, and diffusion of, big data-driven statecraft, mapping tech-policy norm diffusion in digital rights communities of practice, and mapping the impacts of public sector ICT infrastructure diffusion.

The Ethics of Emotion Recognition

Emotion recognition algorithms recognize, infer, and harvest emotions using data sources such as social media behavior, streaming service use, voice, facial expressions, and biometrics in ways often opaque to the people providing these data. In this project we uncover how people conceive of their emotions and emotional data when they think about its harvesting by emotion recognition algorithms. We argue that emotional data is a type of data that warrants particular and explicit attention in research and practice.

Dot-Com Design

In the 1990s, the World Wide Web helped transform the Internet from the domain of computer scientists to a playground for mass audiences. The web changed the way many Americans experienced media, socialized, and interacted with brands. Businesses rushed online to set up corporate “home pages” and as a result, a new cultural industry was born: web design. For today’s internet users the early web may seem primitive, clunky, and graphically inferior. After the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, this pre-crash era was dubbed “Web 1.0,” a retronym meant to distinguish the early web. Dot-com Design provides a comprehensive look at the evolution of the web industry and into the vast internet we browse today.

Culturally Situated
Design Tools

Many cultural designs show how math and computing ideas are embedded in indigenous traditions, graffiti art, and other surprising sources. These “heritage algorithms” can help students learn STEM principles as they simulate the original artifacts, and develop their own creations. By eliminating misconceptions about race and gender in STEM+C, engaging students, and working with teachers, CSDTs can simultaneously teach science, empower students and change perspectives.

Making the 'Future of Work' Work

The rise of unemployment and unstable, precarious work conditions sit in deep tension with growing bureaucratic and corporate interests in automating work across sectors. The question of who defines and understands the risks, impact, and benefits of this rapidly changing socio-technological landscape remains an open question. Scholars, policy makers, politicians, and media have responded with sharp critiques of digital labor platforms such as Uber and Amazon Mechanical Turk as they have furthered precarious conditions of work and life for minorities rather than brought about equal opportunity.

Auditing Algorithms

Secret, misfiring algorithms have recently been used to deny a college education to deserving students, to hide high-paying jobs from women, to send the innocent to jail, and to label people with racial slurs. These computational fiascoes are the result of new automated software-based decision systems in finance, media, information, transportation, and learning. This application of computing can easily create harmful outcomes that are unforeseeable by system designers. This research project advances new “algorithm auditing” techniques that have the potential to improve these systems by making their consequences visible from the outside. It includes a group of events designed to produce a white paper that will help to define and develop the emerging research community for algorithm auditing.

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