Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
PaperSession-14: Ethics
Thursday, 03/Oct/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Daniel Angus
Location: O314

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2:00pm - 2:20pm


Giovanni Boccia Artieri1, Elisabetta Zurovac1, Stefano Brilli2

1Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo; 2Università IUAV di Venezia, Italy

Within the contemporary social media sphere we witnessed an exploitation of visible and permanent contents shared by users for platforms’ marketing purposes (i.e. selling data to advertisers) and to enable platforms to provide tailored experiences. This, along with data breaches scandals, triggered concerns about privacy and the dangers of mass surveillance, and lead developers to provide Instant Messaging applications with greater security. However, the existence of this kind of ‘safe spaces’ in which users privacy is not menaced, has also raised the attention on the sharing of transgressive, obscene or offensive contents that eludes public scrutiny. While the mainstreaming of such contents in non-public digital spaces is often cited as one of the hallmarks of the “dark side of the web”, the research on this topic is still lacking as this phenomenon is observable mostly at an interactional level, and not at the mass media system level. Our study provides an analysis of users’ meaning-making and boundary maintenance activities regarding violent/pornographic contents in group chats (WhatsApp and Telegram), that combines participant observation and in-depth interviews with active participants of such groups. We expect that the results of this research will improve the understanding of 1) the role of messaging apps affordances in shaping the circulation of extreme contents, 2) group trust dynamics, 3) the impact of a common semantics of the obscene on the cultivated semantics of public sphere, 4) methodological difficulties in researching online spaces unreachable by web scraping approaches.

2:20pm - 2:40pm


Sal Humphreys

University of Adelaide, Australia

This paper examines five areas where issues arise for a commercial games company seeking to create a framework of ethical principles and guidelines in relation to their use of consumer data. In a cross-disciplinary approach the research project sought to explore the areas of ethical, legal, technical, commercial, and social/consumer perceptual and behavioural issues that create the terrain for practices within the company. Each area produces particular imperatives and the ways in which these sometimes conflicting imperatives are resolved can result in a variety of ethical outcomes. Interested in how the commercial imperatives might articulate with the ethical, and how technical issues might create both barriers and offer solutions to problems, and how the consumers were characterised by the company, the research team embarked upon the formative and exploratory phase of the project, with the encouragement of the enthusiastic industry partner. However the partner, after taking on board venture capitalists, withdrew from the project as the new partners saw no commercial value in backing the project. The irony of this outcome does not prevent us from exploring the issues in this now non-empirical study, which draws on current literature and understandings to consider the conflicts, and synergies within the complex terrain of commercial practices. It considers the broader context of surveillance capitalism, the logics of neo-liberal individualism and economic rationalism as played out at the micro-level of an individual company.

2:40pm - 3:00pm

The Ethics of Emotion in AI Systems

Luke Stark1, Jesse Hoey2

1Microsoft Research Montreal, Canada; 2University of Waterloon, Canada

Computational analyses of data pertaining to human emotional expression have a surprisingly long history and an increasingly critical role in social machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) applications. Contemporary, quotidian, narrow AI/ML technologies are most frequently used by social media platforms for modeling and predicting human emotional expression as signals of interpersonal interaction and personal preference. Yet while the ethical and social impacts of ML/AI systems have of late become major topics of both public discussion and academic debate , the ethical dimensions of AI/ML analytics for emotional expression have been under-theorized in these conversations. In this paper, we connect contemporary technical methods for analyzing emotional expression via AI/ML with extant problems in the ethics of AI discourse, in doing so highlighting tensions within that broader discourse and implications for the application of emotion analysis in practice.

3:00pm - 3:20pm

X-Reception and the Ethics and Archives of Care: Context Collapse in the Cross-Platforming of Trans- Feminist and Queer Live Performance

T.L. Cowan

University of Toronto, Canada

In this paper I consider the following questions: What changes about reception when live performance goes digital? In particular, what does it mean to move performance art—its archives and repertoires (Taylor)—in this case, the archives and repertoires of Trans- Feminist and Queer (TFQ) performance art, from a small stage with a limited, friendly, mostly-insider audience, to online platforms, which offer a potentially infinite and undifferentiated audience? What are the possible consequences of these translocations, remediations, trans-platformizations? How might a theory of X-reception help us in the design, construction, development and maintenance of these spaces? Following the work of social media theorists, how do we design for and against architectures of (context) collapse? Drawing together H.R. Jauss’s theories of reception and “horizon of expectations” and Beth Coleman’s theories of ‘X-reality’—"a continuum of exchanges between virtual and real spaces”—I conceptualize a way of thinking about reception online, as X-reception. I propose that a theory of X-reception as an ethico-methodology that allows creators of digital archives to account for the effects of “context collapse” within online audiences, which can increase the vulnerability of people whose materials are circulating in these digital archival environments.

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