This episode brings us Maja Urbanczyk who is a PhD Candidate at Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
On more and more occasions, political decision-makers decide over software that is to be used by the public. In these situations, decision-makers rely on expert knowledge and risk assessment, in order to make informed decisions. For software decisions, the needed expertise comes from IT and IT-security experts and software developers also known as: hackers. The degree of trust that IT expertise receives from political decision makers is highly dependent on the contextual framing of the people holding the expertise: IT-experts are regarded as significantly more trustworthy than hackers by the public as well as politics. At the same time, political decision-makers need to acquire trust from the public. This is likely to be more complex when more information and opinions on a topic are available. With knowledgeable lay-persons posing themselves as experts within the discussions, acknowledged experts being vilified as so called black-hats (hackers with little ethics) and decision-makers walking on a thin line between technocracy/scientism, the greater good and their own interests. It is complex for anyone to decide, which expertise to follow and whom to trust. In some cases this even ends in expertise being disregarded or even discarded by decision makers. Interestingly, it happens that they frame it afterwards as not having known about a technologys downsides. In order to understand the many layers of construction and attribution of non-knowledge and ignorance, I deconstruct these kinds of situations and what I call the network of trust in a qualitative, discursive study. Deconstructing and analyzing decision-making processes with a focus on the role of non-knowledge and ignorance will help to shed more light on the complexity of technological governance. Additionally, this novel approach shows how ignorance is not only a reason for subordination, but also potentially a source of power.
This episode is a live recording from Hacking Everything. The Cultures and Politics of Hackers and Software Workers panel organized at the European Association for the study of Science and Technology (EASST) 2022 conference in Madrid on 2022-07-07. The hosts are Paula Bialski, Andreas Bischof and Mace Ojala. Audio production by Heights Beats at Hotmilk Records, who also produced the theme track. We are grateful for Chemnitz University of Technology for funding.