The Tech/Law Colloquium speaker for Tuesday, November 28, will be Mark Latonero, lead researcher for the Data & Human Rights program at Data & Society. He is a visiting scholar at NYU and a senior research fellow at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School’s Center on Communication Leadership & Policy, where he led its Technology and Human Trafficking initiative as a research professor and research director.

Talk: Technological Interventions in the Refugee/Migration Crisis

Watch this talk remotely here.

Abstract: Despite the drive to leverage technology “for good” there is often a lack of awareness of both the positive and negative implications of technology in any given context.  This knowledge gap becomes critical when examining the emergent role technology plays in humanitarian and human rights situations involving vulnerable populations. For the millions of refugees who have fled the Middle East and North Africa to Europe, many have relied on the digital infrastructure provided by the likes of Google, Facebook, and Vodafone. Indeed, smartphones, online maps, translators, money transfers, and real-time messaging are facilitating one of the largest mass migrations in recent history. The crisis has led organizations to develop technology to intervene directly – from biometrics and education apps to a “robot lawyer” chatbot that provides automated advice for refugees filling out asylum applications. Yet without an empirical grounding, actors developing technological solutions risk being ineffective or even harmful for the very populations in need.  Mark Latonero will explore these tensions and present findings from field research on mobile phones and privacy at a Syrian refugee camp in Greece. Such case studies call attention to the potential harms, risks, and benefits inherent in technological interventions in complex social issues. Moreover, Dr. Latonero will address whether a human rights based framework can serve to guide more responsible innovation and technological development.