MPC Network members have a range of inter-disciplinary research projects underway, many involving a great deal of public engagement.
Ongoing is our work on contemporary fake news. Fake news is a complex phenomenon, driven by technology, economics, propaganda, and people's woeful digital literacy. There is also a raft of sociological and psychological reasons for why people spread misinformation. As such, there is no one single solution to fake news. But MPC members, Vian Bakir and Andrew McStay, are working on this. They have written and spoken extensively about fake news for academic journals and subject associations and for the UK Parliament's Fake News Inquiry.
Also ongoing is our work on emotional Artificial Intelligence ('emotional AI'). Emotional AI encompasses machines that are able to use AI techniques to sense and 'feel-into' human emotional life. Input features might be facial expressions, voice samples and biofeedback data, and the output features are likely to be classified emotional states, which in turn are used to make judgments and predictions about human behaviour. Just think of how this might apply to media content, digital agents, devices and things we encounter in our environments! Is making human emotional life machine-readable acceptable? If so, on what terms? If not, precisely why? Led by Andrew McStay, this project is generating books, papers, industry-relevant reports, policy analysis and practical solutions on how to address emergent technological interest in emotional life.
Also ongoing is a collaboration on persuasive representations of new technologies. Arising from the Risk Communication sub-group, PhD student Michela Cortese (who is doing a theory-practice PhD on risk communication and fictional/factual narratives), won two collaborative grants with Dr Enrico Andreoli (PI, College of Engineering, Swansea Univ.) to make a short, persuasive documentary for policy-makers and funders to explain new technology: a. From National Research Network in Advanced Engineering and Materials and Sêr Cymru for funding to make a documentary that persuasively explains carbon capture to policy makers (Jun 2015, awarded £1,006); b. From Engineering and Physical Science Research Council. Grant ref: EPSRC: EP/N009525/1. Polymer-promoted Cu-catalysed conversion of CO2 to CH4 (2015 - 2017 (£600 for documentary. Overall grant: £99,422).
Recently completed is our ESRC funded Seminar Series titled "Debating and Assessing Transparency Arrangements - Privacy, Security, Surveillance, Trust". This explored, from multi-disciplinary/end user perspectives, how different aspects of transparency (whether voluntarily entered into, or state/commercially/peer-imposed) affect questions of privacy, security, sur/sous/veillance and trust. These areas were chosen, as transparency violates privacy; is argued as necessary for security; indiscriminately mass surveills; and both demands and compromises trust. To explore these topics, we drew on perspectives from Journalism, Media, Sociology, Criminology, Law, Politics, International Relations, Intelligence, Business, History, Computer Science and Philosophy, and on end users from media, journalism, law, governing bodies, regulators, NGOs, start-ups and established business, and security organisations. Seminars were hosted in Bangor, Cardiff, Sheffield and London. Project outputs (documentaries, journal papers, policy reports) can be found here.Recently, colleagues from SCSM, Social Sciences and Law held the Political Studies Association annual Media and Politics Group (MPG) conference here at Bangor in November 2014, for which the theme was Media, Persuasion and Human Rights