Claiming Democracy over Digital Infrastructures, Lilly Irani

Apr. 5, 2022
12:00PM - 1:30PM
Open to the Public

We work and live through layers of infrastructure designed and installed by companies and public agencies, often out of sight and seemingly beyond our grasp. Design justice asks us to pay attention to how this infrastructure express the assumptions of the powerful and guides us to design with directly affected communities. In this talk, Professor Irani will argue that we need to go a step further to address the problem of political agency over digital infrastructures. Political agency means the capacity of agents to create effects through direct and institutional action. She will motivate and elaborate this argument with two case studies: a struggle to shape public-private smart cities infrastructure in San Diego, as well as struggles to transform platform work conditions for Amazon Mechanical Turk workers.

Professor Irani’s research investigates the cultural politics of high-tech work practices with a focus on how actors produce “innovation” cultures. She is an ethnographer of work trained to analyze interactional, organizational, and cultural dynamics as mediated by technology. She also draws on her training as a Computer Scientist and designer to develop novel technical, organizational systems for contexts she studies. She specializes in the cultural politics of high-tech work in the context of global digitally-mediated economies, with a focus on the United States and India. She has also collaboratively designed, built, and maintained software (Turkopticon, Dynamo) that intervenes, resists, or demonstrates alternatives to existing platforms. She is a member of the AI Now Academic Council.

contact for link

Sponsoring Organization(s)