This is a collaborative, exploratory regional project. It aims to facilitate cross-sector debate with local agencies, companies and consortiums on the inclusion of appropriate training in digital skills plans, to help learners to make informed decisions on sharing their data.
Whilst many people may simply accept that in a digital society, they will be constantly tracked through algorithms recording data on what they buy, cookies gathering information on the websites they visit, and applications linked to their mobile phones, this project asks:
- What about those in society who are already marginalized?
- What skills might they need to make informed decisions about sharing their data?
- How might appropriate training be incorporated into regional digital skills plans?
These are important questions when artificial Intelligence (AI) programmes, that problem solve with data on humans, are now widely in use. AI-driven systems may reinforce existing power inequities or unintentionally create new ones, e.g. by reasoning in discriminatory ways about race, gender or disability. Data-driven systems are generally not designed with notions of human agency and data legibility at the forefront. This makes it hard for any perceived harm to be contested by those impacted.
The Covid-19 global pandemic means the development of digital skills has become even more pressing, as colleagues in businesses and organisations seek to manage their day to day business remotely and individuals who have lost employment seek to retrain.
This project opens a rich, cross-sector dialogue through 2 collaborative regional events and aims to develop responses to these challenges.
Policy Briefs and a Toolkit
Follow-up conversations will feed into a set of policy briefs aimed at key stakeholders, such as employers, academics, training bodies, government and policy makers that provide specific HDI recommendations to consider when enacting objectives from the Black Country Digital Skills Plan and a toolkit that other universities in the UK might utilise to support regional cross-sector dialogue on digital skills, data and disadvantage.
The first regional event: Digital Skills, Data and Disadvantage was held on 9 September 2020, with strong participation from a cross-section of local agencies, companies and academics, many of whom are part of local knowledge transfer networks for lifelong learning, enterprise and regional transformation projects in the Black Country.
This project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under the Learning, Skills and Social Justice theme of the Human Data Interaction (HDI) Network Plus.