Media, Artificial intelligence, Privacy, Surveillance/Security (MAPS)
Developments in new media and communication technologies have produced many possibilities alongside numerous concerns related to personal, social, political and economic life. This research cluster addresses the social, political, and ethical issues connected to media practices, the proliferating use of artificial intelligence, privacy negotiations, various forms of surveillance, and (cyber) security approaches and challenges.
Our international team of researchers aims to contribute to theoretical understandings of these complex phenomena and, while doing so, to create societal impact through empirically driven research. They focus on practical and critical approaches to (the interconnections between) these concepts:
- First and foremost, this group looks at mediated practices. With the integration of mobile devices into everyday life and ‘augmented reality’ tools, the dichotomy between being online and offline is difficult at best to sustain. Media are no longer something that are merely consumed but are rather integrated into the fabric of daily life.
- Second, members of this research cluster look at artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. Artificial intelligence is programmed by humans to interact with humans, leading us to rethink humanity. Machine learning challenges the public's understanding of the capability of computers, which are surpassing human performance in many tasks. These technological developments raise questions regarding their societal impacts and matters such as bias and transparency. Therefore, we study the assumptions, practices and consequences of these technical developments.
- Third, this research cluster views privacy as flexible strategies employed to counter the potential for more detrimental consequences of new forms of digitalisation. Examples are identity theft, automated discrimination, and effects on life-chances. The focus on privacy is pragmatic, focusing on effective privacy solutions for complex contexts. It is studied in relation to organisational processes, personal practices, policies, data protection frameworks, and privacy-enhancing technologies.
- Fourth, surveillance is a central focus in this research cluster. Surveillance comprises practices that systematically process various sets of data with the purpose of influencing, managing, protecting, sorting or otherwise controlling persons or situations. Surveillance practices are deployed in a range of contexts not just limited to law enforcement, but also including marketing, (functions of) the state, interpersonal settings, communities, and the workplace. It is foremost justified on grounds of producing (the perception of) security, and surveillance studies offers a critical account of perceptions of safety along with security practices and discourses.
- Fifth, security is considered from a multidimensional perspective with the focus on various actors such as technology providers, users, and regulators. Reliance on media and digital technologies and their continuity has become integral in (most) modern societies, prioritising questions of cybersecurity. Further, instrumentalised as the telos of surveillance practices, security provision cannot be viewed as an egalitarian distribution of safety. Understood as the process of eliminating and preventing threat factors, the notion of security is multifaceted, being both the end goal and the means by which private, corporate and state actors pursue their own interests.
This globally oriented research cluster consists of researchers with different international backgrounds and methodological approaches, encompassing research across geographies and in divergent economic, social, and political realities. From this perspective, the multidisciplinary MAPS researchers examine experiences and practices related to these concepts to help comprehend and challenge privacy, security, and AI practices in order to contribute to the empirically-informed knowledge production which, in its turn, could lead to a more just and (cyber) secure world.