Driverless Governance is an ongoing project that gathers designers and policymakers to speculate on the future of algorithms in the public sector. We design fictional scenarios to extrapolate emergent technologies and consider them critically.
For example, Equality Analytics is a film that imagines a benevolent algorithm that provides a universal basic caloric allocation, but adjusts it based on its citizens likely energy use. The film considers what new kinds of inequality and cooperation might emerge.
As similar technologies proliferate, these stories provide a platform to discuss with expert economists, sociologists, developers, and government officials the implications and assumptions embedded in the use of high-stakes algorithms.
I co-founded this project to encourage reflective use of these technologies, and to explore new forms of participation, activism, and inclusion.
At VergeNYC, a transdisciplinary conference, we led a multi-day workshop with anthropologists, developers, scholars and designers to create new driverless governments as tools to investigate algorithmic politics.
Participants used a framework I designed (adapted from the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities research) to define the aims, logic, and responsibilities of a new governing algorithm.
We developed new design principles with participants at VergeNYC for a more critical design of public sector algorithms. We used the conversation that led to these principles, as well as the principles themselves, to produce a paper for Design for Next in Rome.
We presented this work at the annual conference of the European Academy of Design. Meanwhile, we are using the fictional governments designed through our workshops as the conceptual grounding for new speculative research probes.