Technology and Human Capabilities in UK Makerspaces

Title: Technology and Human Capabilities in UK Makerspaces Authors: Cian O’Donovan and Adrian Smith Download full paper: 10.1080/19452829.2019.1704706 Abstract: The relationship between technology and human capabilities is an ambivalent one. The same technology can expand capabilities for some users under certain circumstances, whilst diminishing capabilities for others situated differently. In this paper we analyse human […]


Categories: journal article

Bloomberg Quicktake: Robots bring smiles to care homes

A short package Bloomberg ran on some of the technology roboticists have deployed in care homes during Covid. Some innovation studies and STS angles provided by me. It’s a snappy edit so here are some talking points I wrote-up in advance: Watch the video here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2021-01-04/robots-bring-smiles-to-care-homes-video Or inline here:


Categories: video

En Avant: End of year mix, 2020

Most years between Christmas and New Year I make a mix-tape for friends. Here’s this year’s effort on Mixcloud. Tracklisting:clipping. – The Deep; The Revolutionaries – Kunta Kintae Dub; MC Yallah – Ndi Mukazi; Sarathy Korwar – Birthright (feat. Zia Ahmed, Mirande & Swadesi); Moor Mother and Yatta – Dial Up; Fort Romeau – Fantasia; […]


Categories: research notes

Pre-print: Accountability and neglect in UK social care innovation

Author: Cian O’Donovan Abstract: Accountability structures in social care are critical. They facilitate democratic decision-making, responsibility and the equitable distribution of benefits. This study examines how innovation and technology is implicated in such structures.In the UK, innovation and technology researchers have predominantly imagined care as service provision, with accountability structured through paternalistic and technocratic configurations […]


Categories: working paper

“We don’t get paid for empty beds”

A snippet of research that I’ve just been expunged from a working paper on how care and accountability are imagined in the UK’s social care infrastructures. An interview with Mike Padgham, managing director of the Saint Cecilia’s care home group in Scarborough reveals to the Financial Times the choice [care home operators like him] faced […]


Categories: research notes

Human capabilities and diversity

My friend O overheard (oversaw?!?) this gem at one of those big summer conferences academics go to, the kind that migrated to Zoom in 2020. She knew I’d like it. I did. Skip forward a few months and I’m desparately hacking at a piece of writing that is far too shrub-like for its own good. […]


Categories: research notes

EASST/4S 2020: Scaling robot demand through doing robotics in public

Presentation from 4S EASST 2020. Download PDF here.Authors: Carlos Cuevas Garcia, Cian O’Donovan, Federica Pepponi Presentation abstract: Scalability has been a key driver in research funding initiatives in the field of robotics. A widely spread assumption in this field suggests that for robotics to thrive it must create and keep adapting to an ever growing […]


Categories: presentation slides

Capabilities for doing transdisciplinary research

Large funders of research are increasingly framing their research investments in terms of societal challenges. When funders like UKRI in the UK look across their portfolios, they often talk about expanding research capacity in a certain area to tackle these challenges. Say in AI research, or climate change, or sustainability. or even economic productivity. This […]


Categories: working paper

The possibilities of robotics in situ

Backstage at the 2019 SciRoc Smart Cities robotics competition at the Centre:MK shopping mall in Milton Keynes, UK. What was inside this box was inevitably less intriguing than the possibilities of its exterior. But maybe that was the point of hosting a four day competition for robot developers inside of a shopping centre. Using a […]


Categories: research notes

How UK Research and Innovation projects imagine social care and accountability

Some ongoing data research on how innovation and technology projects funded by UK research councils consider understand social care. I wanted to know two things: How research about innovation in social care such as assistive living robotics, advanced data tech like AI and machine learning applications and tele-health conceptualised and imagined what exactly social care […]


Categories: research notes

AI ethics from the ground up

Presentation from a special workshop at #WebSci20. Presentation abstract: Interdisciplinary research has led to significant breakthroughs in the fields of AI, robotics and autonomous systems. Yet it has also been the basis of significant controversies. Cambridge Analytica and Facebook’s amalgam of psychographics, data science and engineering at scale being perhaps the most infamous recent example. […]


Categories: presentation slides