I'm happy to share a new article, "Alexa, Are You Listening? An Exploration of Smart Voice Assistant Use and Privacy in Libraries", published with co-author (and SLIS alum) Emma Davis about smart voice assistant use in libraries. Our research explores library use of smart voice assistant technologies in user services and programming, documenting many as-of-yet unresolved privacy issues that these technologies pose for patron communities and also library staff. We urge library workers to consider that smart voice assistants pose harm to many of our patrons as extensions of policing data networks, and argue that the LIS profession has a responsibility to actively engage questions of technological harms and data privacy before advocating adoption of emerging technologies like smart voice assistants in library services.
Read more in our full article, available open access:
Sweeney, M. E., & Davis, E. (2020). Alexa, Are You Listening? An Exploration of Smart Voice Assistant Use and Privacy in Libraries. Information Technology and Libraries, 39(4). https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v39i4.12363
I had the absolute pleasure of talking with Jess and Dylan, the hosts of the Radical AI podcast, about the ethics of chatbots, virtual assistants, and emoji design. They were really gracious and fun to talk with, and I can't say enough good things about the quality of their podcast. I highly recommend subscribing to the Radical AI podcast and soaking up all of the wisdom from their conversations with leading scholars in technology and media studies. (A great podcast to use in class and assign for students as well!)
Subscribe or listen to the episode here!
Cite as: Melissa Villa-Nicholas & Miriam E. Sweeney (2019) Designing the “good citizen” through Latina identity in USCIS’s virtual assistant “Emma”, Feminist Media Studies, DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2019.1644657
I had a wonderful time presenting with my research partner Melissa Villa-Nicholas on one of our projects about Latina AI at the Harvard Kennedy School on March 25th. Our talk focused on "Emma", the Latina virtual assistant used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as a part of their e-government services. This presentation explores the cultural affordances of Latina identity as a strategic design choice in the Emma interface that extends citizenship and nation-building projects for the state, while masking underlying information and data gathering capabilities.
We were privileged to have Dana Chisnell, co-director of the Center for Civic Design, serve as a moderator for our talk. We felt very welcome, thanks largely to all of the hard work and planning of Vanessa Rhinesmith, the Associate Director of digitalHKS. Thank you to everyone who came and talked with us about the politics and surveillance implications of digital technologies designed to gather information about Latinx communities.
*Watch for our paper, "Designing the ‘good citizen’ through Latina identity in USCIS’s virtual assistant ‘Emma'", in Feminist Media Studies forthcoming later in 2019.