Autonomous Driving Futures

Autonomous Driving Futures

Seminar by: Sarah Pink (RMIT University)

When: Fri. 11 May 2018 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm AEST. Lecture will be followed by informal drinks in the John Woolley Building.

Where: MECO Seminar Room S226, John Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney, NSW 2006

Registration Required on Eventbrite:

Abstract: Autonomous Driving (often called self-driving) cars were the most hyped emerging technology in 2015, and Autonomous Driving Vehicles (ADV) featured amongst MIT Technology Review’s Top 10 Emerging Technologies in 2015, 2016 and 2017. They are now reviewed, debated and discussed across multiple policy, industry, technology design and public media narratives daily. In these debates AD futures are frequently visioned as utopian or dystopian and subsequently associated with assumptions about beneficial or apocalyptic individual and societal impacts that AD technologies and services would have on future lives, cities and security. Predicted benefits include energy efficiency, environmental sustainability, and improved quality of life, safety and wellbeing for users. Concerns relate to regulation and power relations embedded in the decision making and ethics of automation and machine intelligence, data and privacy, technology failure, transport system disruption and urban congestion. Yet while these science and technology, business and regulatory narratives frequently predict and describe human futures, there is a dearth of research and little understanding of how diverse human lifestyles, experience, feelings and actions will be implicated in co-constituting these futures. Instead it is often problematically assumed in industry and policy contexts that the benefits promised by AD will be achieved if humans simply trust, accept and adapt to them. Subsequently technology and infrastructure research, testing and preparation by industry, planning and policy stakeholders is focused towards these ends, and is usually undertaken in preparation for AD roll out in the large cities, and highways of the Global North.  Research from the social sciences and humanities suggests otherwise: in this talk I will outline how theoretical and empirical research from this field contests dominant narratives about AD futures, why interventions from the social sciences and humanities are needed, and how this constitutes not simply an urge to create better and more appropriate technology design for people, but rather also suggests the need for a movement from the social sciences and humanities in directing our route towards responsible and ethical technological futures. In doing so I will draw on research developed with teams I collaborate with in Sweden and Brazil.

Bio: Sarah Pink is a Distinguished Professor in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University. Her research, which is at the intersection between design anthropology, futures and technology, currently focuses on Emerging Technologies and Digital Futures, and Design for Wellbeing, which she works on through a series of academic research council funded projects and academic-industry partnerships in Australia and internationally. Current projects investigate autonomous driving vehicles, self tracking and personal data, safe technologies, and hospital environments and design. Her recent co-authored and co-edited books include Uncertainty and Possibility (2018), Anthropologies and Futures (2017), Making Homes (2017), Refiguring Digital Visual Techniques (2017) and Digital Ethnography (2016).