Advances in technology are often promoted to citizens as a means to deliver public services efficiently, maintain independence in older life, or simply as a way to make our lives, homes and cities “smarter” and fun. However there are fears that technology designed to help people receive services at home or to make our lives easier can be used to “surveil, target, harass and punish” vulnerable citizens. Such abuse of technology can be orchestrated by the governments, family members and even romantic partners for a variety of reasons.
In the case of the government, there are many potential uses of AI systems, For instance, AI systems can be (mis)used to determine who is entitled to benefits, and then “ flag” citizens who may be attempting to claim more benefits than they are entitled to, surveillance systems can be used to predict and track people likely to commit a crime. There are questions about the legitimacy and transparency of these systems.
In terms of family life, smart home technology can be misused by an abusive family member or partner to imprison someone in the home (remote locking), to track their location or conversations (smartphones), or make the home environment uncomfortable (remote control of heating and lighting), thus misusing technology to control older adults and children’s freedom and even to afford abusive partners to “punish” their partners.
Candidates can choose which area is of interest to them - AI, citizen tracking and social justice or IoT intimate partner/family abuse.
From a psychological perspective there are a number of questions this research could explore. These include:
How do citizens perceive the future of technology and what impact does this have on their behaviour?
What impact does this vision of the future, or actual experience of such circumstances, have on our psychological well-being?
What do theories of behaviour tell us about how we will cope with these circumstances and our ability and willingness to change our behaviour to protect ourselves?
Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.
For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/research/postgraduate-research-degrees/how-to-apply/
Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF20/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: Friday 24 January 2020
Start Date: 1 October 2020
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.