Research & Speaking Interest

My primary interest and area of engagement lies in policy the space that interrogates the application of digital technologies in the global South (specifically the African subcontinent).
Navigating the tension between what good such technology might produce in institutionally weak, economically floundering and politically compromised countries and the cultural narrative that inevitably informs these as they are deployed in distant cultural spaces – too often disrupting and undermining what little social cohesion exists in those contexts. Discerning what kind of policies are needed to mediate these tensions while harnessing opportunities to ensure that citizens and institutions are empowered to effectively harness new technologies has been my chief occupation for the past decade.
Recently, I have also started to examine the exercise of liberal norms like privacy (specifically ‘personally identifiable’ or ‘non-personally identifiable’ or ‘indirectly identifiable’), autonomy and free speech. These through the lens of ‘socio-cultural privacy’ – the idea that privacy constructs are designed around and defined by specific exercises of power over socio-cultural discourse. So, in the last 12 months my ‘why-how-what’ think brain nodes have been pondering on what, if any, connections there are between the privacy values ‘preached’ in the global North, and the implications it bears for the socio-cultural characteristics cherished in the South which then presents significant constraints in the digital policy making environment in the global South.
These thoughts flow in between the frames of Political and Socio economic theory – a varying combination of ‘pull-push’ economic activity (digital) which is shaped by socio-cultural norms/processes in non-western and emerging political environments. Specifically, I am examining how, if at all, the digital economy discourse on Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Machine Learning (ML), Privacy and Fair Use correlates. On the one hand AI and or ML is primarily being developed and driven by the West and East – with exports to emerging economies – along with ‘western’ notions of morality, privacy, fair use.