David Mellor known as Senior Lecturer in Sociology
BA (York), MA (London), PhD (Cardiff), DPhil (Oxon)
I am the course leader for the BSc Sociology in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. I teach across several modules on the course and provide tutorial and dissertation supervision to undergraduate and masters level students.
With a PhD in Sociology and DPhil in Cybersecurity, I am an experienced social researcher, who is also trained in computer science and digital technologies. Situated between applied philosophy of technology and design anthropology, my work builds unique perspectives on the technological objects and systems that are fundamentally re-tooling our social spaces and everyday lives.
My key research interests are artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, and digital data and media, specifically the ethical and social consequences of these emergent technologies across broad interconnected scales, through daily routines to the geopolitical and ecological.
Central to my project is maintaining the political contestability of these technologies through examining the co-construction of technics and forms of human social life, while working in partnership with diverse publics to interrogate the designs of emerging technologies to raise questions about how they might mediate the spheres of our existence. Key among these publics are our students, who will be the first generations to confront the realities of widespread automation.
Preparedness and resilience for, and indeed critical resistance to, the societal reformations resulting from automation and algorithmic decision making will be essential in the coming decades, and theoretically informed empirical research will be vital in mounting a sustained critique of new dynamics of power. Computational infrastructure and the vectors of communication it creates have called into being a whole new geopolitics.
I believe this type of interdisciplinary research on digital media and society is essential in a political climate where ideas of ‘the social’ are subject to significant disruption, while conceptualisations of social life and action are central to powerful ideologies shaping our future, particularly regarding AI and digital systems.
I am an expert in technological innovation for the Communications Networks, Content and Technology Unit, in the European Commission
I previously worked as a Senior Manager in Research Resources for the Economic and Social Research Council.
I also worked in Sociology and Education Studies, holding research positions at Bristol University, Leeds University, and Cardiff University.
Course Leader BSc Sociology
Global Ethics in a Globalized World – MSc Global Governance
ARTICLES AND PAPERS
I am currently editing (with Christopher Müller) a special issue of Thesis Eleven on the work of Günther Anders, forthcoming 2019
Mellor, D. and C. Müller (forthcoming 2019) ‘Technology and the Social: Utopia Inverted’, Thesis Eleven
Mellor, D. (forthcoming 2018) ‘The Riddle of Holistic Cybersecurity’ Cyber Security Yearbook, University of Oxford
Mellor, D. (2018) Cybersecurity Anthropotechnics: Social Immunology, Future Ethics, and the Digital Technosphere, DPhil thesis, University of Oxford
Mellor, D. (2018) ‘Exploring Ethical Dialogues as a Research Instrument for Responsible Research and Innovation in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics’, Working Paper, Human Centred Computing Theme, University of Oxford
WORKS IN PROGRESS
I’m currently working on the following articles:
Mellor, D. ‘Dead Zones of the Technological Imagination: New Media Technologies and Structures of Violence’
Mellor, D. ‘On Technical Health: Design Principles for the Future’
Mellor, D. ‘Should Robots Commit Crimes? Responsibility, Anthropotechnics, and the Social Life of Future Machines’
Mellor, D. ‘Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Social Policy: Prospects and Problems’
Mellor, D. ‘The Riddle of Holistic Cybersecurity: Perspectives from the Philosophy of Technology’
Mellor, D. ‘The Robots Are Coming! Sociological Reflections on Automation’
I’m also working on two book projects, which include and further develop research from my DPhil project:
The first is provisionally titled: ‘Social Life With Robots: Automation, Democracy, Ethics’
The second is provisionally titled: ‘Anthropotechnics’
CONFERENCES AND WORKSHOPS
Mellor, D. (2018) ‘Key Questions in the Ethics of Robots and AI’ research paper, Ethical Dialogues for Developing Socially Responsible Robots for Children with Autism, De Montfort University Leicester, 4th May
Mellor, D. (2017) ‘Cybersecurity Anthropotechnics’, poster presentation, CDT Cyber Security Showcase, St. Anne’s College, Oxford, 6th November
Mellor, D. (2017) ‘Should Robots Commit Crimes?’ research paper, British Society of Criminology, Cardiff University, 17th May
Mellor, D. (2017) ‘Machines and Automation: Welcome address’, Machines and Automation: Perspectives on Labour, Surveillance and Warfare. Capitalist, Ideology and Crisis research cluster symposium, School of Modern Languages, Cardiff University, 5th May
Mellor, D. (2017) ‘On Technical Health: Design principles for the future’, research paper, Being Responsible in Research: Opportunities and Challenges. ZOON Project Workshop, St Cross College, University of Oxford, 28th March
Mellor, D. (2017) ‘What is Cybersecurity? On Anthrobotics and Anthropotechnics’, Anthrobotics European Workshop, research paper, University of Edinburgh, 21st March
Mellor, D. (2017) ‘Cybersecurity Anthropotechnics: Engaging with the World-Size Robot’, research paper, Informatics Forum, University of Edinburgh, 3rd March
Mellor, D. (2016) ‘Cybersecurity and the growth of the technosphere’, research paper, Where are we now? Temporalities of Globalisation conference, University of Amsterdam, 15th December
Mellor, D. (2016) ‘Fallen robots and the android imagination’, research paper, Fantasies of Contemporary Culture symposium, School of English, Communication and Philosophy, Cardiff University, 23rd May
Mellor, D. (2016) ‘In the cyber war to come, your face will be a weapon’, research paper, Fiction and the Social Imaginary conference, Department of Sociology, University of York, 14th March
Mellor, D. (2015) ‘Speculative cybersecurity and the future defence of virtual worlds’, Cyber Security workshop, University of Warwick, 14th October
Mellor, D. (2015) ‘When humanity is enslaved, don’t say I didn’t warn you’, research paper, Early Career Research Symposium, Cyber Security Oxford, 1st October
Mellor, D. (2015) ‘Science Fictions and Network Aesthetics’, Human Centred Computing Group Conference, Department of Computer Science, Oxford University, 15th January
PUBLIC LECTURES AND EVENTS
‘Speculative Planetology’ public lecture, Cardiff Philosophy of Technology Festival, Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, 15th May 2018
Post-show panel at world premier of the play ‘Tremor’, Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, 24th April 2018
‘Are Robots a Moral Emergency?’ formal debate, Connectivity: The Future of Industrial Technology, Warwick Engineering Society, 21st February 2018
‘Meat the machines: hopes and fears’ public seminar, AHRC Being Human Festival, De Montfort University, Leicester, 18th November 2016
‘Cybersecurity and Philosophy: New problems and concepts’, Public Research Showcase, University of Oxford, 30th September 2015
”Hello World”: The future of humans, computers and machines’, public lecture, Cheltenham Science Festival, 12th June 2015
‘What if robots are our future?’ public debate, Cheltenham Science Festival, 12th June 2015
British Sociological Association – I’m a previous trustee and was one of the membership directors
Visiting lecturer in Cross-Disciplinary Research Methods, CDT Cyber Security, University of Oxford
Human Centred Computing Theme, University of Oxford
Communications Networks, Content and Technology Unit, European Commission
Consultant in Human Factors in Cybersecurity, The Prometheus Project, SBL (Software Box Ltd.)
EPSRC funded DPhil ‘Cybersecurity anthropotechnics’ 2013-2018, Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford
Human Centred Computing Theme, University of Oxford
Areas of Expertise
Social and ethical implications of technological development, particularly AI and robotics
Responsible research and innovation
Politics, policies, and orientations towards the future
Science fiction and the technological imagination
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