The Technology in Society Cluster seeks to bring together practitioners and academics engaged in studying the various implications of technology for developing country contexts. This represents a departure from a focus on the target markets and applications of the earliest Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), which were largely more economically developed contexts.
Since the commercial introduction of the modern smartphone in 2007, the world has witnessed technological innovation at breakneck speed, whether in the miniaturization of computing power, or advancements in data compression and analytics. At the same time, technology has introduced critical disruptions into social, economic and political equilibria that require careful study. In Pakistan, Information Technology (IT) is a growing industry with a promising future. Pakistan has seen an increased growth in the use of ICTs in the last decade to find solutions for socio-economic development. This provides a plethora of opportunities to gauge the overall impact of technological advancement in Pakistan; including development efforts, the field of data analytics and everyday lives of the citizens, among others.
The cluster seeks to investigate the following areas:
Technology for Development (T4D): How can existing and novel technologies be used to engineer solutions to development problems? What unintended consequences do they create? How are superior solutions to be designed? We investigate the impact of technologies, and use the opportunity to deepen our understanding of the underlying context in which they emerge and become embedded.
ICT for Data Analytics: With new technologies has emerged a deluge of granular data, and a range of applications in predictive modelling through machine learning tools for key sectors like agriculture, organisational management and the law. What implications and functionalities do these new approaches hold for improved decision-making and increased productivity in cost-effective, even equitable, manners? How do advances in related technologies, such as web scraping and machine learning for speech and image recognition/analysis, mediate costs, hence volume, of digitised data?
Technology for Citizens: What are the implications of reduced privacy, fake news and increased censorship for justice, the media, and democracy? Has technology brought us closer together, or made us insular? What are the impacts of these phenomena on human psychology and well-being? Can we document variously manifesting political, sociological, and cultural effects of technology on behavioural norms in contemporary society?
Recognising the transdisciplinary nature of the rapidly changing world of information and computing technology, this cluster seeks to further our understanding of this exciting and consequential dynamic. From engineers and social scientists to state, private-sector, and commercial partners, the cluster brings together the most relevant stakeholders in technology for a critical engagement with some of the most pressing policy and development questions of our times.