I’m really happy to have a short piece by me and Clara Crivellaro included in the publication “Self-Service”, a collection of contributions responding to . Kirsty Hendry and Ilona Sagar produced the publication which was exhibited alongside their film screening at the Glasgow International Festival.
In “Experiments in collective counting”, Clara and I write about the (ac)counting practices on an estate in South East London and our efforts to intervene in a resolutely singular logic of community and value.
The Peckham Experiment
was a social experiment targeting health. The Pioneer Health Foundation, the legacy to the experiment, describes it as “an investigation into the nature of health.” From 1926 to 1950 it was based in Peckham, south London at the Pioneer Health Centre. For more information visit the Pioneer Health Foundation website
In response to a story reported via a number of news sites and exploring a thread in my own research, I submitted a Freedom of Information (FoI) request
to Her Majesty’s Treasury on the 7th April. In brief, I requested further details on the amount paid per year to repay the Slavery Abolition Act loan, a loan taken by the UK government in 1834 to ‘compensate’ slave owners for their loss of ‘property’. Shockingly, this loan was being repaid up until 2015 by UK taxpayers.
I made my request
using the amazing WhatDoTheyKnow
site. I’ve included the text from my request below for context.
To Her Majesty’s Treasury,
As widely reported, in 1833–35  the UK government borrowed £20m, 40% of its national budget, to “recompense” slave owners for losing their “property”  — under the Slavery Abolition Act. On 9 February 2018, HM Treasury announced (via Twitter) that this loan had been paid in full. A related FOI request that HM Treasury responded to on 9 February 2018 sets the date of the loans ‘consolidation’ to be the 1 February 2015: “The 4% Consolidated Loan was redeemed on 1 February 2015” .
Under the Freedom of Information act, I request further details of this loan. Specifically, I request the annual amount paid per year since 1833–35.
I also request to total sum paid to repay the loan, including interest.
1. From the documentation available, it’s unclear whether the loan began in 1833 or 1835.
2. This was covered by a number of news organisations. Two examples from the Guardian follow:
Having left their written response to the last day of the 20 working days usually allotted, HM Treasury replied with a somewhat muddled message offering some details, but not fully answering my request. Some equivalent to “HM Treasury does not hold information/records” was used four times in a one-page response:
“HM Treasury does not hold information within the scope of your request.”
“HM Treasury does not hold records dating from this period.”
“HM Treasury does not hold any detailed information on the structure or amounts of repayments…”
“HM Treasury does not hold information on the total interest paid…”
The letter from HM Treasury is available via WhatDoTheyKnow here.
I will be continuing this research and share any further information I’m able to obtain.
Delighted to see the two great papers I contributed to being presented at CHI 2018 in Montreal.
Ari Schlesinger, Kenton O’Hara and Alex Taylor (2018) Lets Talk about Race: Identity, Chatbots, and AI. In Proceedings CHI ’18. ACM Press.
Anja Thieme, Cynthia L. Bennett, Cecily Morrison, Edward Cutrell and Alex Taylor (2018) “I can do everything but see!” – How People with Vision Impairments Negotiate their Abilities in Social Contexts. In Proceedings CHI ’18. ACM Press.
Abstract — Why is it so hard for chatbots to talk about race? This work explores how the biased contents of databases, the syntactic focus of natural language processing, and the opaque nature of deep learning algorithms cause chatbots difficulty in handling race-talk. In each of these areas, the tensions between race and chatbots create new opportunities for people and machines. By making the abstract and disparate qualities of this problem space tangible, we can develop chatbots that are more capable of handling race-talk in its many forms. Our goal is to provide the HCI community with ways to begin addressing the question, how can chatbots handle race-talk in new and improved ways?
Abstract — This research takes an orientation to visual impairment (VI) that does not regard it as fixed or determined alone in or through the body. Instead, we consider (dis)ability as produced through interactions with the environment and configured by the people and technology within it. Specifically, we explore how abilities become negotiated through video ethnography with six VI athletes and spectators during the Rio 2016 Paralympics. We use generated in-depth examples to identify how technology can be a meaningful part of ability negotiations, emphasizing how these embed into the social interactions and lives of people with VI. In contrast to treating technology as a solution to a ‘sensory deficit’, we understand it to support the triangulation process of sense-making through provision of appropriate additional information. Further, we suggest that technology should not try and replace human assistance, but instead enable people with VI to better identify and interact with other people in-situ.