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Institute of Applied Data Science



New EPSRC funding call for Human Data Interaction Network Plus: Surveillance and Resistance projects

27 August 2020

The Human Data Interaction Network Plus, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), has announced a call for proposals focused on Surveillance and Resistance.

How to design for resistance against data surveillance? Human Data Interaction offers a conceptual framework for system design that to goes beyond notions of data/algorithmic transparency, to focus on helping people understand what is happening to data about them (legibility), to change relevant systems to be in better accord with their wishes (agency), and to work with the people using the data so as to improve that processing (negotiability). Work so far in HDI generally assumes that at least one of these three features can be implemented effectively, to meet people’s needs and desires.

However, what happens when one has some understanding of what is happening with one’s data, but cannot change the system or work positively with the people processing it? Then, the collection of one’s personal data becomes something more akin to surveillance — in ways that are often driven by contemporary business models, as per the widely discussed issue of ’surveillance capitalism’. This invites the question that is at the core of this theme: what should we do when legibility, agency and negotiability are not enough? It seems that we could then support systems and processes that allow people to resist or subvert such abusive, illegal or otherwise undesired surveillance — in ways that are not in themselves abusive or illegal. In this way, we can build on the existing three tenets of HDI, and make resistance be a fourth part of our conceptual framework.

In this call, EPSRC is looking for proposals that directly address this question in a practical and demonstrable way, by developing technical solutions, provocations or experimental explorations. This can include (but is not limited to) software development, prototype evaluation, interface design, and other similar arts-based responses.

This call is now open. If you would like to talk through your research ideas, please contact Prof. Matthew Chalmers, the theme lead.

The funding: EPSRC hopes to fund around 5 projects (1 x £50k, 1 x £10k and 3 x £2.5k), though this will be determined by the quality of the proposals. All projects must end by September 2021.

Deadline: 1st October 2020.

For more information and to apply, please see the Human Data Interaction Network Plus website

Updated by: Michal Filus