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Professorships in Racial Justice & Technology

ESC has partnered with three schools at the University of Michigan to coordinate a new cluster of tenure-track faculty hiring across the University of Michigan on the topic of Racial Justice in Technology. We envision new professorships in the following areas:

How can we analyze and counteract racism in policy and technology using the tools of democracy?Professor of Racial Justice in Science & Technology Policy
(Additional details forthcoming.)
How can we design a new generation of artifacts that empower communities of color?Professor of Anti-Racism by Design
(This position has been filled.)
How can we respond to racism in the structure of computing systems that now shape society?Professor of Anti-Racist Data Justice
(Additional details forthcoming.)

This faculty cluster in Racial Justice & Technology coalesces an emerging interdisciplinary field of research that centers structural racism produced and reproduced by information technology, design, and technology policies.

Computational technologies such as data science, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital fabrication are touted as new enablers of efficiency, control, and objectivity. Tech companies offer facial recognition cameras marketed as accurately identifying criminals. Others sell algorithms purported to be anti-racist: they claim to improve hiring decisions and “level the playing field” for people of color. Governments are using “data-driven” tools to allocate social services. Automotive and agricultural industries hope to solve labor problems through automation. While these computational solutions are understood as addressing pressing challenges, there is growing concern that they reproduce and accelerate racist exclusions, violence, and exploitation via what is variously referred to as “surveillance capitalism,” “algorithmic inequality,” and “the new jim code.” Data and algorithms are frequently biased, subject to the same structural racism as our social institutions. Facial recognition technologies are trained on images of white men. The data that informs so-called “predictive policing” is based on racist assumptions about criminality and a legacy of over-policing communities of color. And our decisions about when to intervene and the solutions we develop are shaped by our racist past and present. These concerns have inspired research in technology, design, and policy-making which these professorships seek to further amplify.

This initiative involves new hiring in three Michigan schools: The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the Penny Stamps School of Art & Design, and the School of Information and is also funded by the Office of the Provost’s Anti-Racism Initiative. The coordination of this cluster is a partnership between ESC, the Science and Technology Policy Program (STPP), and the Masters in Integrated Design (MDes).

More information:

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