Susan Halford: on multidisciplinarity, the making of socio-digital futures, their challenges and opportunities
Susan Halford is Professor of Sociology and co-Director of Bristol University’s new Digital Futures Institute, which aims to use social science expertise and methods to analyse and understand digital technology futures in the making and use insights to help shape these futures in a way that is fair, just and prosperous for all. A Geographer by training and a Sociologist for 30 years, for the past decade Susan has been working closely with Computer Scientists on interdisciplinary research and education. Susan’s current activities concentrate on the challenges and opportunities of the digital age. Her research focuses digital data, infrastructures and computational methods, exploring their implications for how we describe, analyse and intervene in the social world. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is currently President of the British Sociological Association.
Today we talk about digital futures – what’s ahead for us and how to best shape it together in a multi-disciplinary manner. Susan shares what she thinks have been the fundamental disruptions brought about by digitalization and brings forth many insightful examples from her field of work: the making of socio-digital futures. We explore the challenges of working together with technology experts and the ways in which we can better facilitate multidisciplinary approaches and give space for experimentation. According to Susan, digitalization ties up challenges and opportunities and provides a window to try and reconfigure the status quo. She explores how covid-19 has exacerbated AI processes and the new discussions it could help spark. Finally, Susan shares her expectations from the Anthropology Technology conference and her hope that it will further facilitate the making of socio-digital futures.
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Mentioned in Podcast:
Anthropology + Technology Conference 2020, 9th October, https://www.anthtechconf.co.uk/
Bristol’s University Digital Futures Institute, https://www.bristol.ac.uk/bristol-digital-futures-institute/
Southampton’s University Web Science Instituted, https://www.southampton.ac.uk/wsi/index.page
Catherine Ingram, Facing Extinction, https://www.catherineingram.com/facingextinction/