Combining technology and social sciences for sustainable innovation

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Trilateral Research


Dr David Wright | Founder & Chief Research Officer
Dr Rachel Finn | Director, Data Protection & Cyber-risk Services / Head of Irish Operations

Date: 8 February 2018

Trilateral Research’s integrated approach combines technology and social sciences to deliver sustainable impact.

In fact, our interdisciplinary team is made of data scientists, computer scientists, social scientists and ethical and legal experts. We employ co-design methodologies with end users to develop, test and implement state of the art technologies.

Our solutions pay attention to the contexts in which they are applied, are respectful of human rights, and thus are able to avoid adverse and unwanted impacts. By doing so, we deliver sustainable innovation.

Poorly judged technology deployment can result in a public backlash, failed product launches, or in less extreme situations, poor take-up and adoption rates. This makes it important to understand and anticipate these impacts, and work alongside developers by shaping the eventual design of the technology.

This is why while our technical team develops solutions based on artificial intelligence deployments and data analytics, we employ our unparalleled expertise in ethical, legal and social impact assessments to work across the technology-social disciplinary divide, designing bespoke sustainable technological solutions.

For us, Ethical, Legal and Social Impact assessments are an integral part of the design, deployment and evolution of new technologies.

Challenges include making it useful and meaningful for users, anticipating unknown impacts in complex social contexts, making sure that the right people (with the right skills) are included in the process, and ultimately, knowing what questions to ask.

This activity responds to the increasing demand that the design and use of new technologies are conducted in a manner that is in the keeping of responsible research and innovation.

Ethical, Legal and Social Impact assessments for responsible research and innovation.We have successfully implemented impact assessments across the research side of our business, but their use is spreading, and our services are being adopted within the public and private sector. While there are different methodological variations, the core elements of our approach include:

  • assessment of a technology’s intended use
  • design
  • context of use
  • assessment of information flows
  • legal setting and affected stakeholders, often in concert with those stakeholders themselves.

The benefits include better, more ethical use of technology, but also a market advantage. Ethical Legal, Social Impacts assessments can support business intelligence granting a better understanding of the product or service developed, as well as its users and context of use.

Kush Wadhwa, Director at Trilateral Research, reflecting on the organisation’s interdisciplinary approach said:

Whether your firm is concerned with developing new and innovative solutions that utilise data in diverse ways, it is critical to assess the specific risks related to your data flows and its impact on privacy. For example, implementing changes to respond to the GDPR, or managing risks associated with the proliferation of data breaches and cyber-attacks. Beyond such assessments, though, it is equally necessary to determine how to reduce these risks in critical operational areas – and that will require an interdisciplinary approach where technologists and privacy experts work together, communicate effectively, and devise innovative solutions. With such an approach, institutions may reduce risks, comply with the law, maintain their CSR standards, respond to customers effectively and retain competitive advantage.

Trilateral’s integrated approach can be widely generalised through technology development projects, both in research and in innovation more broadly.

Read about our work on the Privacy Impact Assessment for the INSPEC2T and the RAMSES project.

For more information on our technological development services read some insights from our technical team concerning the technology risk assessment for the GDPR implementation.

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