Jack Bandy is a Ph.D. student in Northwestern's Technology and Social Behavior program.


What is Technology and Social Behavior?

People often assume life with new technology is better. But as Margaret Atwood put it poignantly, "better never means better for everyone. It always means worse, for some." Lots of technology that appears to make life better may in fact have a disparate impact on society, improving the lives of some people, while leaving others out to dry. Technology and Social Behavior (TSB) brings a heavy social and cultural lens to the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) in attempt to understand the full of impact that new technology has on society.

In less than a couple decades, we went from a world without Facebook, Google, Spotify, Netflix, iPhones, etc., to a world where most of us use these tools and services for hours each day. Despite their widespread use, we are only beginning to understand their full impact, from individual experiences like compulsive overuse of social media to larger socio-cultural impacts like the spread of fake news and the reconceptualization of privacy. In the same way that ecologists must study biological properties of animals and emergent animal behaviors, it is important to study technical aspects of computationand their emergent behavior in society (this analogy is from a recent paper in my field).

Here are a few questions that myself and others in TSB, HCI, and related fields are thinking about:

  • What happens when algorithms influence the news, movies, and music that we consume as a culture?
  • Should an algorithm be used in context of law and justice, such as < a href="https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-chicago-police-violence-strategy-met-20160722-story.html">choosing where police cars patrol? What are the implications of using such an algorithm?
  • How can we mitigate some of the negative impacts that new technology has on society? For example, how might we address human biases embedded in the training data and structure behind algorithms?
  • How might we design algorithms that embed positive human values?

Publications

Favorite Books, Stories, & Poems

Here are a few books, stories, and essays that have significantly influenced (and in most cases, guided) my thinking about human-computer interaction and/or life. Let me know what's missing!

And some poems:

My CV

Find a PDF of my untrimmed CV here.

Personal Tidbits

Some personal information you may or may not care about: