Jessica McLean (Macquarie University, Sydney)
Generative digital worlds of children and young people
Drawing on a case study of how children and young people use social media for multiple purposes, this talk shares what forms of care and repair are possible in digital geographies. Frequently, children and young people are framed as requiring care in the digital but they are also agents of care, as they use social media to increase their understanding of the world, continue self-care, and care for others. These care-full practices often happen despite limitations of the digital, where creating and supporting care infrastructures is not always a priority of platforms. However, from speaking with children and young people about using TikTokand building communities of solidarity to prompt climate change action (in the context of School Strike 4 Climate), it is clear that social media users do identify opportunities to generate reparative moments. The extent to which forms of repair are possible within sometimes care-less digital spaces may speak to how care is navigated in other potentially fraught contexts.
» 17 October 2023, 08:30 – 10:00 (CET)
Casey Lynch (University of Twente)
Robotics in Place and the Places of Robotics: Critical Geographies of Human-Robot Interaction
Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) researchers have long noted the need to better understand HRI outside of controlled laboratory settings, or as it is often discussed “in the wild.” Calls for such research highlight the ways robots are increasingly entering the spaces of everyday life, including homes, schools, offices, hospitals, and city streets. These settings significantly complicate theories of HRI developed around a single robot and a single human in an isolated or scripted encounter. Despite this recognition, empirical and theoretical work on HRI in the wild is still limited. Where it has been carried out, this work has generally aimed to understand the requirements for robotic systems to properly function in such complex settings, rather than reflect on the broader socio-spatial entanglements the robots enter in these settings. Bringing discussions of HRI into conversation with scholarship from human geography, this presentation reflects on the ways socially-interactive robots become important agents in the production of physical space, social space, and place—and highlights the critical questions raised by thinking through each lens. The presentation focuses specifically on an ongoing interdisciplinary research project funded by the US National Science Foundation studying the development and deployment of interactive museum tour-guiding robots on a North American university campus. The project is a collaboration among geographers, roboticists, a digital artist, and the directors/curators of two museums, and involves experimentation in the development of a tour-guiding robot with a “socially aware navigation system” alongside ongoing critical reflection into the socio-spatial context of human-robotic interactions and their future possibilities.
» 21 November 2023, 12:00 – 13:30 (CET)
Christoph Fink (University of Helsinki)
How equitable is evidence-based decision-making?
On smart cities and planning for older people
Urban planners, practioners and academics alike, are in strong support of evidence-based decision-making. Dynamic computer models that mirror every detail of a city’s physical, organisational, and social realities inform policymakers, planners, and decision-makers‘ in real-time’ –possibly forecasting the impact of anticipated decisions and changes.
Such smart city infrastructures share a critical limitation with other data science approaches: what cannot be measured, cannot be recorded. It is, for instance, challenging to represent older people, or other vulnerable or marginalised groups: the data that are collected and analysed, emphasise the interests of the majority group; technological, ethical and legal limitations lead to practical data scarcity on minority groups. This is further aggravated by a legacy of planning models assuming a representative ‘average resident’, often implicitly a white, middle-aged, middle-class man. More often than not, neither model nor data take marginalised groups and the most vulnerable residents into consideration. To overcome under-representation of older people in smart city initiatives and digital city twins, we developed strategies for engagement and co-creation, and experimented with different forms of inclusive rights-based urban decision-making. In this presentation, I will highlight that seemingly minor differences between the everyday realities of individual city residents can have a tremendous impact on the‘evidence’ we base planning decisions on, and outline practical and conceptual steps towards more equitable planning for more sustainable urban futures.
» 23 January 2024, 12:00 – 13:30 (CET)
Macquarie University, Sydney
DR. C.R. Casey Lynch
University of Twente
University of Helsinki
Moderation & Organizers