Social Justice in the Digital Economy: Summer Webinar Series

What do we understand social justice to be in the fast-changing world of adjusting to and developing digital technology? What can we learn about changing values of/for social justice by considering four different areas of the digital economy? We hosted four events to discuss this critical topic.

The Evolution of Social Justice in the age of Networks and Machine Learning

World-leading researchers and academics in Design, HCI and Human Rights help us explore the ‘life’ of data; how thinking about AI as relational infrastructures changes the ethical questions and concerns we work with; and how Big Tech and AI are affecting human rights.

Keynote Speakers

  • Prof Irina Shklovski, University of Copenhagen – AI as Relational Infrastructure
  • Dr Michael Muller, Research and Master Inventor, IBM – Interrogating the Machine Learning Pipeline from Within
  • Prof Lorna McGregor, Human Rights Centre, Essex University – Human Rights Implications of New and Emerging Technologies

Chair: Prof Ann Light, Sussex University

Find out more about the speakers and talks here.

Equitable Digital Economies

Current neoliberal economic models driving much digital innovation are exploitative and contribute to the reproduction and widening of inequalities. Can design help forge equitable economic models and reshape current value-systems? How?   

We can begin to repair these weaknesses, but we will need to pay more attention to the necessarily human and collaborative work-practices of data science, and we will need to re-think our technologies to preserve a more transparent and accountable provenance of human decisions and human outcomes that contribute to data science applications.

Panel Speakers

  • Dr Tawanna Dillahunt, University of Michigan’s School of Information (UMSI) – Eliciting alternative economies using speculative co-design
  • Dr Pitso Tsibolane, University of Cape Town – “It feels like slavery all over again!” Critical Perspectives on Digital Gig Labour in the Global South
  • Ruth Catlow, Furtherfield – The role of art and culture in critical engagement with alternative economies and decentralised technologies
  • Prof Ann Light, Sussex University/Malmo University – Transformative Economies and Relational Assets
  • Dr Maurizio Teli, Aalborg University – A few thoughts on commoning, participatory design, and going beyond capital

Chair: Prof Lizzie Coles- Kemp, Royal Holloway University of London

Find out more about the speakers and talks here.


Making Data Work for Social Justice

Not all data is made equal. As data is increasingly mobilized in the service of governments and corporations, their unequal effects on both individuals and groups become increasingly difficult for data scientists. We ask data science by whom? Data science for whom? Data science with whose interests in mind?   

Hear from Catherine D’Ignazio (MIT) who helped us consider how feminist thinking can be operationalized to enact more just data practices, and Giselle Cory who talked about the role data science has in the social sector.


  • Prof Catherine D’Ignazio, MIT – Data Feminism
  • Giselle Cory, DataKind UK – What role does data science have in the social sector?

Chair: Clara Crivellaro , Newcastle University

Find out more about the speakers and talks here.


Thursday 10th // 6pm – 7:30pm BST

Stories from our socially just, digital futures

Imagination and storytelling are the basis of all social transformations and social movements. They help us visualise, enact and share the kind of futures we wish to shape up together. What stories and what futures do we need to imagine now more than ever?   

Carl Di Salvo (Georgia Tech) describes the power of experimentation as a means of cultivating and sustaining imagination.

He was joined by director and playwright Sarah Naomi Lee, who has been thinking playfully about academic ideas using cartoon illustration and Sci Fi writer Al Robertson, reading a sci-fi story written to reflect thoughts and conversations heard during Not-Equal Summer webinars events.

Panel Speakers

  • Dr Carl Di Salvo, Georgia Institute of Technology – Experimentation and Imagination
  • Sarah Naomi Lee, Plenty Productions – What can the multifarious expressions of sheep (MEOS) tell us about social justice in the digital economy?
  • Al Robertson, Fiction Writer – Turning the Not-Equal Summer events into fiction

Chair: Prof Alan Dix, Swansea University

Find out more about the speakers and talks here.