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The 4th Annual Symposium on the Digital Person (Online)

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The use of personal data is of enormous global concern. The Digital Person symposium is an annual event organised by the HAT -LAB and Wolfson College Cambridge that discusses personal data from three perspectives: (1) digital personhood, law, freedom and democracy (humanities) (2) value, economics and markets (social science) and (3) data analytics, data science and technology (science and technology). Symposium participants are drawn from industry captains, policy makers, government representatives, combined with thought leaders from the sciences, humanities and social sciences with discussions relating to law, computer science, history, sociology, entrepreneurship, business, economics and the global society. The symposium is chaired by 3 eminent professors in the field, Professors John Naughton, Jon Crowcroft and Irene Ng. This unique cross-disciplinary symposium is organised jointly by Wolfson College Cambridge and HATLAB .

Aside from creating a unique environment for a robust discussion that is relevant and important, the symposium also produces an annual white paper on the state of the digital person in a connected and digital society. The paper would then be presented to the Digital Person Symposium Committee, which acts as an editorial board.

This year’s symposium’s theme is:

Digital Identity in a Post Pandemic World

Digital Identity in Technology Digital ID thru the covid-19 back door

The UK has been remarkably resistant to the imposition of a single national identity system, analog or digital. Now, various moves in the government reacting to the Covid-19 pandemic are afoot to create a digital identity system, rooted in one of the trustworthy organisations, the NHS . Such an ID system, it is claimed, could simplify efforts to control the pandemic, such as Contact tracing, and Immunity Passporting. Yet, contact tracing can be done without ID (e.g. anonymously via decentralised systems), and as yet, immunity is not a medically verifiable property people can obtain (and may not ever be obtained), nor does immunity necessarily strongly correlate with lack of infectiousness, so risk to others (which is often the critical social concern) is not a guarantee at all. In the long run, disaggregated and federated identity systems might simplify some social activities, and the designs of such systems might help with appropriate design choices for these public health services. These would also uncover assumptions about the trustworthiness or otherwise of various actors in such systems.

Session chaired by: Professor Jon Crowcroft, Cambridge Computer Labs, University of Cambridge, other speakers to be confirmed

Digital Identity in Humanities Tech ‘solutionism’ vs public trust: lessons from the contact-tracing fiasco.

Tech ‘solutionism’ is the belief that for every social problem there is a tech solution. Proximity-sensing apps were initially touted as a heaven-sent tool for managing the pandemic and its aftermath. They definitely had a role to play in this—but only as an augmentation of traditional labour-intensive methods of testing, tracing and isolating. To be effective, proximity-sensing apps needed wide adoption and public trust. Most of them failed to achieve this. Why?

Session Chaired by Professor John Naughton, University of Cambridge, other speakers to be confirmed

Digital Identity in Economic Markets Identity as asset, information and coordination

Sensor data on a phone has always been an information good held by the technology firm that controls it, for example, Apple and Google for iOS and Android phones. Whether it’s Bluetooth identifier, location data or a MAC address, the ability for that information to move at great speeds and at scale through the Internet makes it an attractive asset for achieving mass coordination of the people that hold the devices. Little wonder that it is sought by governments in their attempt to carefully mobilise a workforce to get the economy re-started. The information from devices creates a three tier market. First, for the data itself, and access to it. Second, for the information it transmits and third, for the ability of that information to coordinate other markets such as health and finance. Is it acceptable to restrict transactions on the data (such as the conditions Apple and Google are imposing for covid19 tracing apps) in the name of keeping transactions safe (a necessary component of a market). At what point does this become market manipulation?

Session Chaired by Professor Irene Ng, University of Warwick; Director, HAT -LAB, other speakers to be confirmed

Programme for the day

Drop in for Zoom coffee: From 9:45am

10:15am: Opening remarks, James Kingston, HATLAB Deputy Director and moderator of the symposium

10:30am: State of the HAT Ecosystem – Professor Irene Ng, Director, HAT -LAB

11:15am: Coffee break / Q&A

11:30am – 1pm: Technology session chair by Professor Jon Crowcroft

1-2pm: Lunch break

2-3:30pm: Humanities session chaired by Professor John Naughton

3:30pm – 3:45pm: Coffee break/Q&A

3:45pm – 5:15pm: Economics session chaired by Professor Irene Ng

5:15pm – 6pm: Drop in Pimms and drinks

About the Chairs Professor Jon Crowcroft, FRS , FREng is the Marconi Professor of Communications Systems in the Computer Laboratory of the University of Cambridge and the Chair of the Programme Committee at the Alan Turing Institute. Professor Jon Crowcroft is distinguished for his many seminal contributions to the development of the Internet and is a fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge.

Professor John Naughton, FRSA is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities at Cambridge University, Professor John Naughton is a Technology columnist of the London Observer newspaper, Professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University and the author of “From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet” published by Quercus Books.

Professor Irene Ng is Professor of Marketing and Service Systems, WMG , University of Warwick and the Director of HAT -LAB. Professor Irene Ng is also a Turing Fellow, the CEO of Dataswift, and the creator of the Personal Data Account infrastructure powered by the HAT Microserver. She specialises in market design economics and service ecosystems and is the author of “Creating New Markets in the Digital Economy” published by Cambridge University Press.



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