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Lilly Irani (UC San Diego)

Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at 4:00 P.M.

Abstract:

Chasing Innovation: Entrepreneurial Citizenship and the Subsumption of Hope

The ethos of innovation and entrepreneurship, honed in high-technology firms, has colonized philanthropy, development projects, government policies, and even thinking about international diplomacy. Innovation competitions, hackathons, and corporate mythologies around figures such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs proliferate optimism that passionate dreamers can change the world. But do entrepreneurial approaches to innovation really serve social needs? In this talk, I trace the history of this entrepreneurial form of citizenship in India, from colonial times to the present. I offer case studies that demonstrate how innovation needs to change to prioritize the needs of people over elite companies and institutions. This talk is drawn from my book Chasing Innovation: Making Entrepreneurial Citizens in Modern India (Princeton University Press).

Biography:

Lilly Irani is an Associate Professor of Communication & Science Studies at University of California, San Diego. She also serves as faculty in the Design Lab, Institute for Practical Ethics, the program in Critical Gender Studies, and sits on the Academic Advisory Board of AI Now (NYU). She is the author of Chasing Innovation: Making Entrepreneurial Citizens in Modern India (Princeton University Press, 2019). Her research examines the cultural politics of high-tech work and the counter-practices they generate, as both an ethnographer, a designer, and a former technology worker. She is a co-founder and maintainer of digital labor activism tool Turkopticon. Her work has appeared at ACM SIGCHI, New Media & Society, Science, Technology & Human Values, South Atlantic Quarterly, and other venues. She has a Ph.D. in Informatics from University of California, Irvine.

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