Dec 2019 12 – 13


Studio, Tandem Research, Aldona, Goa

Point of View and Tandem Research invited us in a two-day learning lab, Future Unclear with the agenda to dive deep into the tangled web of relationships between our (physical) bodies and our (digital) devices. Because the future is so unclear around so many things that are part of our daily digital lives: data, privacy, expression, surveillance, artificial intelligence etc.

The Future lab showcased a talk by Dr Anja Kovacs on data and bodies followed by discussion. The idea behind this lab was to showcase ground-breaking research and knowledge in the Indian context on the following issues – and to surface new ways of looking at and thinking about these.

  1. Bodies, Data and Protection: Data protection policies and regulations typically aim to protect data. But are bodies adequately represented in these discourses?

2 Online Pornography and Sexual Expression: How can we redefine online pornography, which is always seen – and used – as an excuse to curtail expression?

3 Hate Speech and Misinformation: While new evidence shows how hate speech insidiously courses through platforms from TikTok to WhatsApp, what is the role of platforms in preventing this?

4 Facial Recognition and Women’s Safety: Eight cities in India will soon launch facial recognition programs as part of safe city programs. But are these technologies themselves ‘safe’?

While much has been written about these topics in recent years, this lab aims to approach the issue conceptually and critically; to unpack some of the assumptions, narratives, interests, and values shaping conversations around these issues in India; to surface invisible or marginalized narratives and perspectives, and identify policy pathways for India that centre the user’s rights and interests.

The lab consisted of 20 participants including researchers, practitioners, journalists and technologists.