Tech Solutionism vs. Public Trust

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference presentation/ephemera


Tech 'solutionism' is the belief that for every social problem there is a tech solution. Proximity-sensing apps were initially touted as a heaven-sent tool for managing the pandemic and its aftermath. They definitely had a role to play in this -- but only as an augmentation of traditional labour-intensive methods of testing, tracing and isolating. To be effective, proximity-sensing apps needed wide adoption and public trust. Most of them failed to achieve this. Why?

Julia Powles is Associate Professor of Law and Technology and Director of the Minderoo Tech & Policy Lab at The University of Western Australia. Scientifically trained and experienced in national and international policy-making, Julia’s research focuses on civic and rights-based responses to emerging technologies. She is an expert in privacy, intellectual property, internet governance, and the law and politics of data, automation, and artificial intelligence. Regularly consulted in these areas by governmental agencies and lawmakers in North America and Europe, Julia is now focused on Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Rim as sites for innovation in tech regulation and governance. She has a particular interest in stimulating health, energy, and bioscience innovation in a way that safeguards the public interest.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2020
EventFourth Annual Symposium on the Digital Person - University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Sep 20203 Sep 2020


ConferenceFourth Annual Symposium on the Digital Person
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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