Project

PlusMinus

Peat Bakke, Flickr (2008)

Ride-sharing, social media, artificial intelligence. These are examples of socially-beneficial, net-positive technologies that have shown us the dark side of a move-fast, break-things ethos. In visible or invisible ways, these technologies have also had unexpectedly—and disproportionately—negative impacts on some of society’s most vulnerable citizens.

PlusMinus provides both a structure for Media Lab researchers to work with members and other outside collaborators on impact and equity issues, and a force for changing our internal culture to bring these considerations more consciously into our design and evaluation processes. As part of the Media Lab's continuing investigation into complex, adaptive systems, PlusMinus is...

  1. Equipping future technologists with the space, community, and skills to reflect on, critique, and inclusively design technologies for equitable, positive social impact before they’re deployed.
  2. Examining—in collaboration with member companies and sponsors—how to radically re-cast design  processes both inside the Lab and outside it, to improve our collective understanding of the pluses and mi… View full description

Ride-sharing, social media, artificial intelligence. These are examples of socially-beneficial, net-positive technologies that have shown us the dark side of a move-fast, break-things ethos. In visible or invisible ways, these technologies have also had unexpectedly—and disproportionately—negative impacts on some of society’s most vulnerable citizens.

PlusMinus provides both a structure for Media Lab researchers to work with members and other outside collaborators on impact and equity issues, and a force for changing our internal culture to bring these considerations more consciously into our design and evaluation processes. As part of the Media Lab's continuing investigation into complex, adaptive systems, PlusMinus is...

  1. Equipping future technologists with the space, community, and skills to reflect on, critique, and inclusively design technologies for equitable, positive social impact before they’re deployed.
  2. Examining—in collaboration with member companies and sponsors—how to radically re-cast design  processes both inside the Lab and outside it, to improve our collective understanding of the pluses and minuses  of the technologies shaping our lives. 

We envision a community of PIs, research staff, and students who concentrate their research on PlusMinus issues—exploring how the benefits of their research might be distributed equitably across society if projects were to be scaled up, how to evaluate ongoing research for early hints of possible trouble, and how to mitigate negative impacts should they appear.