- INTRO: THE NEW FIELD OF DIGITAL TRACING [00:00]
We get a taste of the range of projects Andrew has worked on and he talks about the new field of digital contact tracing developed in March 2020 and the paper that kicked it off.
- TECHNOLOGY VS. ETHICS [02:15]
It doesn’t matter if the technology behind contact tracing can be rigged up in an afternoon, there are much bigger questions that have to be resolved before nationwide contact tracing can be rolled out. We talk about privacy, ethics, data storage, the government’s responsibilities and how many people have a smartphone in their pocket.
- FROM SURVEILLANCE SOFTWARE TO DIGITAL CONTACT TRACING [04:28]
It’s a big shift to move from a career in computer systems engineering and surveillance software to the Faculty of Arts researching privacy and ethics issues. Andrew says: “if people don’t trust the system they’re not going to use it,” and talks us through how and why he made the switch.
- A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A PANDEMIC RESEARCHER [06:46]
How do you do your job remotely, keep yourself safe, meet your obligations and conduct cutting edge research that contributes to a pandemic response, from lockdown? We talk about planning, quick adaptation and the practicalities of daily life through a researcher’s lens.
- MEDIA PROFILE AND ACADEMIC HARASSMENT [13:15]
There is no value in having research hidden away or having your work presented in such complex language that only specialists can understand it. Researchers who can explain the results of their work clearly, and what these results mean for all of us, are in demand. We discuss the dark side of having a public profile, how Andrew was accused of being a Chinese spy (spoiler alert, he is not) and what this reveals about racism in New Zealand.
- DATA ETHICS, TRUST AND THE ALGORITHM CHARTER [18:02]
Is Facebook evil? Have you watched The Social Dilemma? We talk about a growing public awareness of how data can and has been used by technology companies and how this translates to a historic trust or mistrust of government. Andrew also introduces us to a new initiative: the 2020 Algorithm Charter of Aotearoa New Zealand.
- IMMIGRATION, ARTIFICAL INTELLIGENCE & FREE LABOUR [26:50]
How can artificial intelligence help speed up bureaucratic bottlenecks, for example, with immigration visas and why do “are you a human” tests always show roads? A transdisciplinary team is exploring these questions and more.
- FINAL THOUGHTS AND TRACK N’ TRACE [36:26]
People have access to a global flow of information 24/7 but sometimes the cultural specificity of this information is lost in translation. Andrew talks about the concept of “track and trace” in the United Kingdom, and why it is worrying to see this term being used on protest billboards outside Parliament in New Zealand.
- NEXT SHOW – DR MARIA ARMOUDIAN, POLITICS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS [39:35]
We introduce our next guest, Dr Maria Armoudian, a lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Auckland.
Mentioned in this episode, in order:
Research centre: Pandemics Hub – Past, Present, Future
Research centre: Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures
Article: The past, present and future of digital contact tracing by Manuel Cebrian outlining his journey into digital contact tracing that began in 2009 when he was a postdoctoral research fellow and became invaluable in 2020. Nat Electron 4, 2–4 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41928-020-00535-z
Early career: Electrical, Computer, and Software Engineering
Documentary: The Social Dilemma
Academic paper: Exploring the Drivers and Barriers to Uptake for Digital Contact Tracing by Andrew Chen and Kimberly Widia Thio. Social Sciences & Humanities Open Volume 4, Issue 1, 2021 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S259029112100108X
One year retrospective: Lessons from our Covid Tracing App by Andrew Chen. https://www.newsroom.co.nz/lessons-from-our-covid-tracing-app
Current perspective: Why You Should Keep Your Contact Tracing App by Andrew Chen. https://www.newsroom.co.nz/ideasroom/why-you-should-keep-your-contact-tracing-app