I co-direct the Centre for Research in Digital Education, located at Moray House. I lead on a new research theme called ‘Data Society’, and my work is concerned with the social implications of digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and ‘big data’ analytics, particularly for higher education. Rather than technical development, I’m interested in how these technologies are involved in influencing individuals and wider society, through their increasing ability to intervene in our lives, and automate decision-making processes.
This year, as a Global Academy EFI Fellow, I am working across the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to build awareness and understanding of the social and ethical implications of our increasingly ‘datafied’ institution. The University of Edinburgh is currently involved in a number of large-scale projects that are grounded in the idea of using data-driven technologies to solve local and global challenges. These projects include: the Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI); the Centre for AI and Ethics; the Distance Learning at Scale project (DLAS); the Bayes Centre; and the Data Driven Innovation programme (DDI). There is a pressing need to enhance the critical capacity of these initiatives by giving due attention to the technologies themselves, and asking challenging questions about how data are used, and what kind of agency stakeholders have in the process. The core aim of this fellowship is to generate interdisciplinary discussion, principally through bringing together expertise from the Global Justice Academy (GJA) and EFI, as well as ideas related to ethics and justice, that can enrich our understanding of the data-driven society, and the role of the educational institution within it.
Dr Jeremy Knox