Loose Threads: Design Thinking for the Last Inch of Innovation

Join TRGS on February 9th (3:30-4:30 pm in the AHG Seminar Room) for this invited talk by Dr. Elliott Hauser and Dr. Samantha Shorey from Good Systems!

“Loose Threads” is a collaborative conversation that engages participants in imagining and redesigning the systems where technology is embedded. What are the compromises, considered actions and embedded values we impart on the path to automation? How might we hold open the possibility of meaningful work at its edge?

The elimination of human labor underlies many conversations about automation. Yet, every innovation begets new types of work that are constituent of its success. Situated at the human-technology frontier, there are new jobs made possible by automation. Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of Wired, calls these the jobs that “machines dream up.” Here human collaboration and oversight increases, not decreases, in value. Yet, this oversight can come at a grueling cost. Dystopian futures are already present in the seemingly automated places where human hands still assemble the iPhone and human eyes moderate online content. When we look more closely at automated processes, we begin to see both the glimmering and dark future of technology work.

Elliott Hauser (he/him/his) studies the ways information systems condition social reality.  His work focuses on sites and situations where actions are taken in light of information, currently focused on community-embedded robotics. Prior research areas include the computational production of time, the production of thermophysical facts, and conceptions of temporality in data science education. He is Co-Lead of Living and Working With Robots (LWR), an eleven PI collaboration across seven disciplines to deploy and study robots on the UT Austin campus using sociotechnical methods, and Co-PI Community-Embedded Robotics, an NSF-funded Convergence Research project. Elliott holds a PhD in Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a member of the Royster Society of Fellows. 

Dr. Samantha Shorey (Assistant Professor, Communication) is a design researcher who studies how users contribute to the making, modification and maintenance of new technologies. Her work engages overlooked stories of innovation to recognize the contributions of women to technology design—both presently and in the past. Dr. Shorey is co-lead of the UT Good Systems project “Living and Working with Robots” and PI of an NSF-funded project examining how Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies are being adopted and adapted by essential workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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