Panels bring diverse perspectives into conversation to grapple with pressing topics. This year, researchers, artists, designers, entrepreneurs, journalists, technologists, and others take on:


Immersive Ethics: Anticipating Risks and Harms in Virtual and Augmented Reality

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Jillian Powers, Moderator

Responsible AI Lead, Cognizant

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Jordan Kraemer

Director, Policy & Research, Center for Technology & Society, Anti-Defamation League

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Arwa Michelle Mboya

Spatial Computing Product Designer, Magic Leap

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Jessica Outlaw

Research Director, The Extended Mind

How can researchers and designers develop an anticipatory vision for ethical VR/AR research and development?

Tuesday, Oct 19, 9:00 am San Francisco, 5:00 pm London
(video available to attendees in Kaze no Tani; find your region)

Overview
As new technologies, from AI to immersive experiences, are developed at scale, they raise ethical concerns for research and design. Data-driven systems have repeatedly been shown to entrench social biases along lines of race, gender, and class, from racist algorithms in the criminal justice system to misgendering trans and nonbinary people. Immersive technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), however, raise separate and thorny questions for ethical design. Immersive technologies create novel experiences of embodiment and reality, not to mention new sources of personal data. These facets create distinctive challenges for ethics, equity, and inclusion, intensifying the potential harms of misinformation, harassment, privacy violations, surveillance, or unequal access. How can ethnographic research anticipate emergent ethical questions specific to VR and AR applications? This panel brings together academic and industry voices to discuss frameworks for ethical tech, inclusion and accessibility in VR/AR, new research strategies for designing ethical VR/AR, and how to advocate for people-centered VR/AR applications across product design and research teams.
About the Panelists

Jillian Powers, PhD is an applied sociologist, educator, and general rabble rouser who cut her teeth in the undercommons of elite universities. After receiving her BA from Dartmouth College, she earned her PhD from Duke University in Sociology. She has held postdoctoral positions in American Studies and Sociology at Washington University in Saint Louis and Brandeis University, and has taught civics at Democracy Prep High School in Harlem NY. In 2016, after another disappointing year on the academic job market, she went rogue. She now works in the private sector as the Lead for Responsible AI for Cognizant, a multinational digital and professional services company, and joyfully lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn where she builds her community. She has lots of strong opinions, and has been regularly called a “difficult” woman.

Jordan Kraemer, PhD, is a media anthropologist and ethnographer of emerging technologies. She is currently Director of Policy and Research, Center for Technology & Society at the Anti-Defamation League. As an anthropologist, she researches digital placemaking and urban inequality, and recently completed a study on digital platforms and neighborhood organizing during COVID-19 in NYC, supported by the Social Science Research Council Just Tech program. Previously, she taught at NYU Tandon and Wesleyan University, where she was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow. She is finalizing a book on social and mobile media among an emerging middle class in late 2000s Berlin, forthcoming from Cornell University Press and holds a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Irvine. She lives in Brooklyn.

Arwa Michelle Mboya is a designer and researcher in the XR industry, currently working for Magic Leap. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University and a Master’s of Science from the MIT Media Lab. While at MIT, Arwa studied the implications of immersive technology on the imagination. She led the first Pan-Africa AR/VR Hackathon in Nairobi and designed a new VR headset (based on Oculus Go) as a result of research on how women in informal settlements interact with VR. Arwa is from Nairobi, Kenya.

Jessica Outlaw is a behavioral scientist and founder of The Extended Mind LLC, where she has designed, executed, and published research on how to make Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence technology more human-centered.  She is a 2017 winner of Oculus Launchpad for the VR app Teachers Lens co-created with Clorama Dorvilias.  Jessica is fascinated by the way emerging technologies can impact the experience of reality and embodiment. Having worked with many different types of product teams, she’s seen up close the types of tradeoffs that technologists make when it comes to design and development.


The Future of Business in a Post-COVID Landscape

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Marc LaFleur, Moderator

Partner, Human Centered Design, Cognizant

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Jacques Barcia

Research Fellow, Institute for the Future

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Jorge Camacho

Co-founder, Diagonal Estudio

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Jennifer Lee Fuqua

Experience Design Director, Ogilvy

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Devon Powers

Associate Professor of Advertising & Public Relations, Temple University

Amid upheaval, uncertainty, and a new sense of re-invention, how will organizations and industries contemplate and shape the future?

Wednesday, Oct 20, 5:00 pm San Francisco; Oct 21, 11:00 am Sydney
(video available to attendees in Oomza; find your region)

Overview

Events of the 18 months have upended questions of the future and, for business, cast a new light on how it might better contemplate and plan for uncertainties. Covid has also opened up a new sense of potential when it comes to re-inventing or designing better or new futures for ourselves, providing a sense of agency and fluidity that had, until recently, seemed less tangible. This panel will engage in this dialogue with the future, particularly as it relates to the future of business and the ways in which business could contemplate, confront and shape the future.

About the Panelists

Marc LaFleur is an anthropologist by training who has been working at the intersection of insights, strategy, foresight and design for the last decade. While most of Marc’s work has been in design for health he has experience across industries and sectors. An engagement with questions around the future has animated Marc’s career and thinking about how design, strategy and social sciences can evolve together to inform and help rethink questions of experience, sustainability, purpose and care.  Marc currently leads the Human Centered Design practice at Cognizant Technology Services and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Jacques Barcia is an award-winning journalist, author and futurist. His core interests are in the futures of narratives and the narratives about the futures. He holds a Masters in Design and is one of the co-founders of Futuring Today, a network that blends foresight, design, and science fiction to prototype the futures. Jacques is a research fellow at the Institute for the Future (IFTF), where he researches the futures of climate change, governance and technology, and co-leads the Design Futures training. His fiction has been featured in Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction and The Apex Book of World Science Fiction; and has appeared in magazines such as Clarkesworld and Electric Velocipede. Jacques is also a research fellow at the Center for Postnormal Policy and Futures Studies (CPPFS) network.

Jorge Camacho is a strategic designer, foresight strategist, researcher, and lecturer. He works as a Research Affiliate at Institute for the Future and is a co-founder of Diagonal: a research, design, and futures studio based in Mexico City. In those roles, he consults for public and private organizations in the US, Latin America and Europe in projects aimed at anticipating challenges and opportunities for the coming decades. He studied an MA in Cybernetic Culture and a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies at the University of East London. As a researcher and lecturer, Dr. Camacho is interested in design practices that aim to drive social change such as design futures, systemic design, and transition design. He currently teaches systems and futures thinking at the MA Design Studies and the Design of Tomorrow program at CENTRO and the MA Strategic Design and Innovation at IBERO Ciudad de México. He’s lectured at Academia Mexicana de Creatividad, EGADE Business School, ISDI, and h2i institute (Madrid).

Jennifer Lee Fuqua is an experienced design leader of global design teams. She is passionate in the crossroad of user-centered design and business strategy, to help client create experiences where logic meets magic. Jennifer has 15+ years of experience in the design & innovation field, with deep expertise in design strategy, program management, design research, and workshop facilitation.  Prior to joining Ogilvy, Jennifer was heading the Fjord Hong Kong studio, where she is responsible for overall design quality and client delivery. Prior to Fjord, Jennifer worked at frog design, a global design and innovation consultancy, where she led cross-functional teams to solve complex business problems with design. Jennifer is a certified Change Management professional and have practiced human-centric design to help organizations build innovation capabilities and transform cultures.

Devon Powers is Associate Professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, Temple University. Her research explores historical and contemporary consumer culture and the dynamics of cultural intermediation, circulation, and promotion. She is the author of On Trend: The Business of Forecasting the Future; Writing the Record: The Village Voice and the Birth of Rock Criticism; and co-editor of Blowing Up the Brand: Critical Perspectives on Promotional Culture. Her work has appeared in Journal of Consumer Culture, New Media & Society, Creative Industries Journal and Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, among other venues. Follow her work on Twitter @devjpow.


Redesigning the Social Safety Net

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Nichole Carelock, Moderator

Privacy Researcher, Facebook

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Morgan G. Ames

Assoc. Director of Research, CSTMS, UC Berkeley

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Zahra Ebrahim

CEO, Monumental

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Mithula Naik

Head of Design Research, Canadian Digital Service

Ethnography-forward approaches to reimagining public systems that work for all.

Thursday, Oct 21, 9:00 am San Francisco, 5:00 pm London
(video available to attendees in Kaze no Tani; find your region)

Overview
The past two years have laid bare that we inhabit a world with enormous and increasing inequality. We’ve also seen a decreasing level of faith in public programs and institutions to provide quality health care and education or even fair access elections. And the very systems designed for the betterment of all are often siloed and ineffective. This session comes at a time when policy and regulations affecting social safety net benefits are more in flux than usual in many countries. Using the tools of data, design, activism, technology, and innovation, these panelists have led an ethnography-forward approach to reimagining these systems and move toward safety nets that work for all.
About the Panelists

Nichole Carelock is an anthropologist with 10+ years experience building technical solutions that not only work for people, but with people. She is a privacy researcher at Facebook and a member of the EPIC Board. Previously she worked in civic technology, ensuring the Presidential Transition Teams were equipped with the right Tech Policy, People and Practices to succeed. Her expertise spans from service design for systems with millions of users, to intimate cottage industry ethnographies. Nichole is passionate about digital services for vulnerable populations and prides herself on being a “slow thinker” in her world of “failing fast” “rapid iteration” and “disruption.” Through slow thinking Nichole works to ensure that innovation, strategies, processes and products are anchored in what matters to people in their everyday lives today and over time.

Morgan G. Ames researches the ideological origins of inequality in the technology world, with a focus on utopianism, childhood, and learning. Her book The Charisma Machine: The Life, Death, and Legacy of One Laptop per Child, winner of the 2020 Best Information Science Book Award, draws on archival research and ethnographic fieldwork in Paraguay to explore the cultural history, results, and legacy of the OLPC project—and what it tells us about the many other technology projects that draw on similar utopian ideals. Her next project extends the questions she asks in The Charisma Machine regarding the interaction between computers, ideology, and identity to explore the role that utopianism plays in discourses around childhood, education, and ‘development’ in two geographically overlapping but culturally divided worlds: developer culture of Silicon Valley and the working-class and immigrant communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Zahra Ebrahim is a public interest designer and strategist, focused on shifting power to people who are typically underrepresented in institutions and systems. Her work has focused on deep, community-led approaches to policy, infrastructure, and service design. She is the CEO of Monumental, an organization focused on supporting an equitable recovery from COVID-19 through building fair and just cities and institutions, producing creative, socially-driven initiatives, and amplifying BIPOC leadership. Prior to this role, she built and led Doblin Canada (Deloitte’s Human-Centred Design practice), focusing on engaging diverse sets of stakeholders to use human-centred design to address complex organizational and industry challenges. In her early career, Zahra led one of Canada’s first social design studios, working with communities to co-design towards better social outcomes and leading some of Canada’s most ambitious participatory infrastructure and policy programs. Zahra has taught at OCADU, MoMA, and is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto. She is the Vice-Chair of the Canadian Urban Institute, and the Board Chair for Park People.

Mithula Naik is the Head of Design Research and a founding member of the Canadian Digital Service (CDS) in the Government of Canada. At CDS, Mithula leads the design research community, and supports government partners to deliver simple, easy to use services for all Canadians. Prior to CDS, she was a design researcher at the Privy Council Office’s Impact and Innovation Unit. Here, she ran design-led interventions to improve policy, program and service delivery in the Government of Canada. Mithula’s career spans India and Canada, where she has worked on diverse systemic issues including healthcare, transportation and government services. She holds a Masters in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University, and a Bachelors in Product and Interface Design from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology.


Catching up to the Present to Reimagine the Future

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Afra Chen, Moderator

Research Director, Inner Chapter

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Chuma Anagbado

Managing Partner & Co-founder, Aziza Design

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Natascha Nanji

Writer and Creator

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Rasa Šmite

Founder, RIXC Art Science & Culture Center

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Raitis Šmits

Founder, RIXC Art Science & Culture Center

Artists and creative professionals are re-imagining narratives of present and future as societies navigate global crises.

Tuesday, Oct 20, 8:00 am London, 6:00 pm Sydney
(video available to attendees in Urras Anarres; find your region)

Overview
In the age of pandemics and climate crises, reality is represented via varied narratives on health, politics, and the environment across different cultural and social contexts. As artists, designers, and ethnographers practicing the art of narration within different specialties and contexts, this panel aims to showcase how creative professionals re-organize their methods, practices, relationships, and lives in the face of present circumstances. Panelists will share how art and design can help us reflect upon the present and address any future challenges.
About the Panelists

Afra Chen is a PhD candidate in medical anthropology from Fudan university, her research interests mainly centered around medical/biological technologies and how do they intersects with societal changes in China, her recent research focused on genetic testing and reproduction. She also conducts ethnographic research for business consultation. She currently works in Inner Chapter, an idea studio based in Shanghai with the mission to evolve the business of ideas in China and beyond.

Chuma Anagbado is a designer, artist and entrepreneur passionate about creating effective collaborations, sustainable solutions and promoting cultural identity. A practitioner of ‘natural synthesis’, an idea set forth by the Zaria Rebels that merges the best of Western and African traditions, forms, techniques, and ideas into a hybrid art and design-making practice and conceptual framework. Chuma is an avid reader and loves to travel and experience new cultures. More on http://chumaanagbado.com/impact/

Natascha Nanji is an artist and writer whose research orbits migrations, nomadism, systemic flows & transmutations. She regularly performs essays at art events and academic conferences and contributes to art journals, museums and insight agencies, also working with arts organisations to enhance their digital systems. Natascha has a background in Anthropology and Fine Art and studied cultural criticism at the Royal College of Art. She is the co-editor/publisher of LAY IT ON THICK, a literary magazine about desire and erotics.

Rasa Smite is an artist, network researcher and cultural innovator, working with science and emerging technologies since the 90s. She is founding director of RIXC Center for New Media Culture in Riga, curator of its annual festivals, and a chief-editor of Acoustic Space – peer-reviewed publication series. She holds a PhD in sociology of culture and media (from Riga Stradins University, 2011), and MA in visual arts (from Arts Academy of Latvia, 2000). Currently she works as associate professor in New Media Art programme at Liepaja University. She is author of the books – “Creative Networks. In the Rear-View Mirror of Eastern European History”, published by Amsterdam Institute for Network Culture (2012), and “Talk to Me. Exploring Human-Plant Communication” (Published by RIXC, 2014). She is also author of numerous articles and co-editor of the Acoustic Space series issues.

Raitis Smits is Riga based artist and curator. He is co-founder and artistic director of RIXC Center for New Media Culture, curator of its annual festivals and exhibitions, and an editor of Acoustic Space – peer-reviewed publication series. He also works as assistant professor at the Latvian Academy of Arts, Visual Communication Department. He has received PhD degree from the Latvian Academy of Arts, for defending his thesis with the title “New Media Art. Preserving and Representation Problematics” (March, 2015). As a part of his PhD, he has curated two exhibitions – Net.Art.LV (kim?, 2010) and Save As (kim?, 2013), which was related to the 5th Media Art Histories: ReNew conference in Riga, 2013.