NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant
This grant will support my dissertation research of the value implications of two emerging technologies of everyday life: networked vehicle systems and web search engines. Networked vehicle systems (GPS-based navigational tools, automated toll collection, automobile black boxes, and vehicle safety communication systems) rely on the transmission, collection and aggregation of a particular vehicle’s location and telemetry data. The drive towards the “perfect” web search engine (providing personalized results and delivering only relevant advertising) depends on the profiling of users’ online activities and interests. Taken together, these technologies represent emerging threats to one’s “privacy on the roads”: on the one hand, networked vehicle systems enable the widespread surveillance of drivers traveling on the public highways, and on the other, a perfect search engine facilitates the monitoring and aggregation of one’s intellectual activities on the information superhighway.
Specifically, this grant will allow me to travel to three specialized research sites that will make theoretical, material, and pragmatic contributions to my project:
- Center for Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Science, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands, where I will study with Prof. Philip Brey to enrich my investigation of the relationship between values and technology, and work alongside both philosophers and engineers sensitive to the value implications of technology
- Department of Philosophy and the History of Technology, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, where I will work alongside Prof. Sven Ove Hansson and other scholars dedicated to the ethics of traffic technology, and observe pragmatic interventions within Swedish automotive and technical communities
- Culturally Embedded Computing Group, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, where I will study with Prof. Phoebe Sengers to help gain a critical understanding of the relationship between technology and culture, and witness the application of critical technical practice to real design situations
I am very excited about this opportunity, which wouldn’t be possible without the guidance of my dissertation chair, Prof. Helen Nissenbaum, and my other committee members, Profs Siva Vaidhyanathan and Alex Galloway.