CALL FOR IDEAS: Accountability in the Age of the Algorithm; Championing Pathways to Inclusion in Tech Driven Futures

Source: Thu, 12 Mar 2020 07:52 PM
Tweet Recommend Google + LinkedIn Email

Accountability in the Age of the AlgorithmChampioning Pathways to Inclusion in Tech Driven Futures

CDAC Annual Public Forum 2020: 27-28 October 2020
The responsible and ethical use of emerging technologies within humanitarian systems requires intentional, democratised design with diverse perspectives to ensure that technological futures do not exacerbate past inequalities. Inclusive futures that impact all of us cannot be designed by just a select, privileged few.

For much of the world algorithmic accountability goes unchecked.

Progress and innovation have always been driving factors for societies and the way we live. Yet AI-based technologies stand out as a game changer with the potential to affect the core of our societies. Communication and Community Engagement (CCE) is opening up more ways to provide more meaningful and direct life-saving information and data sharing approaches. However, the intersection of the global humanitarian system and technology systems, both arguably fundamentally patriarchal and hegemonic, raises concerns about the implications for the most vulnerable. This is particularly pertinent in issues around refugee data and identity, fake news propagated by social media and the trialling of technology on vulnerable populations. Furthermore, there are worries that agencies engaging in digital transformation are not doing enough to be ‘intentionally inclusive’ or to avoid unintentionally excluding groups who may already be left out of current approaches. There are uncertainties around both how to ensure this impact does not further marginalise the hardest to reach and how to mitigate the biases of the technology sector.

Those working on current digital policy frameworks for accountability tend to be predominantly from small communities of public-private, academic and technical actors from the global north.  The challenge with designing digital policy from a dominant narrative is that it runs the very real risk of reinforcing power imbalances, without considering the cascading impacts of such policy decisions on those most affected by them.

Join us to radically re-imagine digital humanitarian policy so that it is centred around community agency, knowledge and needs.

AIM: The public forum will shift the emphasis and discourse of AI and ethics from top down technology solutions to one that is far wider in its range and inclusion. We seek to amplify different values, ethics and philosophies to challenge our assumptions about digital humanitarian communication and community engagement.


Are you actively working in, researching or advocating for people who are most impacted by technologies in humanitarian settings, to give them greater agency to shape the type of technology futures they will live within? Do you want to unsettle and interrogate current hegemonic practices? Do the following themes appeal to your sense of justice, fairness and equity? Then APPLY TODAY to speak at or facilitate a session on any of the following themes:

Theme 1: Algorithms and accountability
● Algorithmic discrimination – who is likely to be discriminated against and what implications might this have on real life aggression and exclusion?
● What principles should underpin accountable algorithms?
● How do we unpack the black box of responsibility? Who is actually responsible, who ought to be responsible?

Theme 2: Decolonising Digital Governance and Ethics
● What could 21st Century Geneva Conventions look like? How might humanitarian principles need to evolve in the age of algorithmic accountability?
● What are some different philosophies and cultural values that should influence digital ethics?
● Digital humanitarianism – is this a force for good or an extension of the white person’s imagination?

Theme 3: Whose experiences matter?
● How are people’s identities and experiences being impacted by technologies?
● Tech and feminism: How can feminist approaches to technology systems influence more equitable humanitarian outcomes?
● What types of wisdom do we need in our complex futures? How can indigenous philosophy and cultural anthropologists help us reframe our thinking?

Theme 4: The Ecosystem
● What does the digital ecosystem actually look like? Who are the unusual actors that are doing meaningful work that humanitarians can learn from?
● Re-thinking networked collaboration – how can we shift our asks and expectations of stakeholders and partners?
● What new forms of networked accountability is required? How do we hold each other to account?

We encourage speakers from diverse fields, experiences (both professional and lived) and geographies to collaborate with us. We seek those that can hold us to account. It is desirable for all speakers to be familiar with the humanitarian and development contexts or at least how the humanitarian and development system might learn from other sectors.

Your proposal should not exceed 2 pages and must address one specific theme. It does not have to be fully bound by the guiding sub questions, but does need to address a minimum of one sub question. Your points of provocation, reflection or learning have to fundamentally centre around how Communication and Community Engagement in the humanitarian sector is impacted by these issues, and what can be done to re-imagine these outcomes.

We seek points of view that can challenge normative discourse and that push us to go beyond the status quo. Be brave in your ideas and proposals!

Tell us what you want to talk about, interrogate or workshop. Tell us why this is important to you and tell us what in your topic isn’t normally discussed or thought about. Tell us what we might all collectively learn from your session.

Please send submissions to the CDAC Executive Director:
Marian Casey-Maslen:

Deadline for submissions 15th April 2020

About the CDAC Network
The CDAC Network is the global alliance of more than 30 of the world’s biggest humanitarian and media development organisations – including UN agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, INGOs, media and communications organisations – committed to putting the power in humanitarian action back in the hands of communities. We believe that, when communities have the information and the resources to make their own decisions, they will find solutions to even the most challenging problems.

The CDAC global public forum will be held online between 28-29 October 2020. The event will bring together all those working in the humanitarian, development, academic, technology and media development fields. 

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of the CDAC Network. For more information see our Acceptable Use Policy.

About the CDAC Network

The CDAC Network is a growing platform of more than 30 humanitarian, media development, social innovation, technology, and telecommunication organisations, dedicated to saving lives and making aid more effective through communication, information exchange and community engagement.

Our Members

Newsletter Signup

Communication is Aid

Latest Tweets