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Larissa Hjort

Distinguished Professor, ECP Director, Design and Creative Practice, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Co-Designing for Digital Asian Social Futures: Playful and creative cities for Older Adults

Understanding Digital Asia requires an approach that focuses on social and local nuances rather than technology-centric models. While early work into digital culture fetishized youth practices, increasingly we see the importance of intergenerational understandings of the digital as an integral part of familial informal care-at-a-distance, careful surveillance and maintaining intimacy. As locations in Asia increasingly become ageing societies—Japan already claims the “super aged” status (one in five is over 65 years old), followed soon by South Korea and Hong Kong—we need to think about how digital cultures playfully interfaces with intergenerational care. In particular, how might we playfully co-future (Inayatullah 2008) for cities with growing ageing populations?

 This talk focuses on creative and ethnographic approaches to how we might recalibrate the city as a playful and creative place that fosters ageing well. My approach is as an interdisciplinary maker and ethnographer interested in how we can learn from participants’ everyday practices to design together a social future for cities that places the importance on playful and creative intervention. I will draw from fieldwork conducted with older adult Pokémon Go uses, along with creative practitioners, to explore how we might curate conversations around ageing as a positive, playful and creative activity.


Aim Sinpeng

Lecturer, Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney, Australia, and Co-Founder of the Sydney Cyber Security Network

Trust, Platform and Political Engagement Online

Trust is one of the most important currencies of our digital lives. Everyday we go online, we also put our trust on the line. We make choices about what to trust, whom to trust, and when to trust every minute we spend online – most of the time unconsciously. If we pause to think about the issue of trust as we browse through the web or snap another photo on our Instagram, at every level our trust is being tested and challenged: trust in the data we see; trust in the information we receive; trust in the platform we use; trust in other net users; trust in the government that provides the internet environment; trust in internet providers; trust in internet regulators and trust in the system.

The Cambridge analytical scandal has broken the trust between social media users and platforms, causing a downward dip in confidence in the technology we use that has once positively transformed our lives. Mass exodus of millions of Facebook users in Europe and a drop in trust on social media platforms in many parts of the world provide a wake-up call for technology companies to rethink how they do business. The damage done by the scandal is still being felt to this day as a growing number of governments are demanding greater transparency and accountability from social media platforms.

This talk will focus on the issue of trust and social media in Southeast Asia – a region with the most active social media users in the world. On paper, this region should have low trust in social media given the restricted internet environment, authoritarian-leaning governments, harsh cyber laws, and generally low trust in institutions. Yet, millions of Southeast Asians engaged actively on politics on social media during elections times despite a growing list of ordinary net users being persecuted for their actions online. Based on survey data and Facebook analysis of political engagement in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia during their recent elections, this talk will discuss the issues trust in social media and what factors might shape online political engagement in the region. It will also discuss the implications from Southeast Asia in how we could understand trust in the online world.

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Pauline hope Cheong

Professor and Director of Engagement and Innovation, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University, USA

When robots need people: Understanding communication, culture and artificial intelligence in the Internet of things

Contemporary debates on the rise of artificial intelligence have reanimated concerns about the future of human work and well-being. One major discourse has focused on seismic shifts in light of automation, including mass unemployment where even cognitive, non-routine and service occupations are at risks of displacement or disruption by new technologies. In tandem, news stories that cover the latest robotics often highlight their novelty, technical prowess, and potential to replace human labor. As Asian societies grow in their hyperconnectivity, we need to think about how robotic innovations are understood and integrated in these mediated contexts, alongside profound questions regarding personhood, identity, and values.

This talk will discuss the growth of artificial intelligence in the Internet of things ecosystem, highlighting the implications of emerging developments for everyday user practices and changing organizational culture. Applying constructivist perspectives to communication technology, I will explore human-machine interactions, particularly the strategic, distributed and multi-scalar communication processes in Asian religious organizations. By explicating the role of human communication in robotic systems, we can broaden relational understanding of the heterogeneous and normative associations constituting our latest innovations, and deepen understanding of the significance of human authority and work.

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Florian Schneider

Senior University Lecturer, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Digital Nationalism and Sino-Japanese Relations: Selling Sovereignty in Digital China

Nationalism, in China as much as elsewhere, is today adopted, filtered, transformed, enhanced, and accelerated through digital networks. And digital nationalism interacts in complicated ways with nationalism "on the ground". If we are to understand the political complexities of the 21st century, we need to ask: what happens to nationalism when it goes digital? In this keynote, based on his new book China's Digital Nationalism, Florian Schneider explores what search engines, online encyclopedias, websites, hyperlink networks, and social media can tell us about the way that different actors construct and manage a crucial topic in contemporary Chinese politics: the protracted relationship with neighbouring Japan.