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JUST AI was tasked with bridging what were considered to be very firm disciplinary divides in UK data and AI ethics research. Our Reflection Prototype facilitates interdisciplinary encounters to reveal and form connections. In attempting to provide proof of concepts for ideas, prototypes create opportunities for reflection and collaboration. Our idea was to harness the engagement prototypes created by building an online tool that would develop our network through personal and collective reflection. The functioning technical prototype allows people to see how they situate themselves in the field of data and AI ethics. 

While our bibliometric analysis created static maps of what individuals previously published, our Reflection Prototype continuously captures current conversations that might make a difference in the future. Given that issues in data and AI ethics are present and pressing, it is important to be able to expand the map of an emerging field in real-time. We wanted to create interdisciplinary encounters that did not reiterate differences between the social sciences and humanities, so we combined methods to engage with multiple positions and forms of knowledge. Our Prototype draws on a reflective survey that asks participants to think about what motivated them to start working in data and AI ethics, how they define their own work, their relationships with others, and what ideas are significant to them. We believe self-reflection is an interesting way to generate conversation between people with similar interests and different backgrounds. 


The Reflection Prototype survey and associated workshops permit people to narrate their own experiences in data and AI ethics as a way to break down barriers and form connections over similarities or differences. We designed an online survey that produces a network diagram graphic inspired by biological metaphors of network connection that occur in non-hierarchical ways, through growth, branching, and reproduction. The survey generates a visual prop to use when talking to people who have made different life choices but might share certain interests - or who may be able to develop those interests in the future. 


We commissioned design researcher Annelie Berner to create aspects of the Reflection Prototype and workshops. Design methods and artistic elements were intentionally used to provoke individuals to understand their own position and participate in conversations about data and AI ethics. 

Annelie’s documentation of the project and her process can be found on her website 

After participants complete the survey, a graphic of their answers is generated. The visual represents an individual’s “fingerprint” in data and AI ethics using a branching schema and different colour densities that depict their autobiography

A circular labeled dendogram with certain branches bolder and brighter than the others

Example of a fingerprint generated after a completed

Reflection Prototype survey 

A second diagram consolidates answers across respondents so individuals can see themselves in relation to others. Visualising the comparisons between an individual's response and others begins conversations about differences in perspectives. The graphics evoke natural forms to serve as an aesthetic invitation for discussion. 

A fan-like visualisation of how individuals’ answers relate to the others who have joined the network thus far

Circles connected by dotted lines or overlapping. Each circle has colorful bars of varying height along its edges and each bar has a line of dots above it.

Our Reflective Prototype can be found for continued use on this site. Please be patient as the visualisations take a minute or two to populate and be advised that the page is unfortunately not designed for accessibility.

Annelie and Alison designed a workshop that focuses on the metaphors of path-building and grafting in order to facilitate reflection and connection using the Prototype. The workshops provide a space for individuals to discuss and compare their “fingerprints” and uncover possibilities by learning about each other's perspectives. Using the shapes and forms as opportunities for growth and connection, the Workshops are run through hybrid methods at academic and policy institutions internationally. So far, workshops have taken place at the University of Helsinki, the Minderoo Centre for Democracy and Technology at Cambridge, and the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

Completed fingerprint dendrogram with written instructions on how to annotate it during the workshop

Template used in Refection Prototype workshops 

Example of annotated ‘fingerprint’

Alison and Annelie leading a hybrid Reflection Prototype workshop at the University of Helsinki 

 Low opacity dendrogram fingerprint with opaque written notes and shapes overlaid
Screengrab of a photo editing software adding notes to a dendrogram fingerprint

Annelie conducts remote annotation to facilitate discussion and discovery among participants 

Participants discussing their fingerprints in pairs

A group of people around a classroom table having separate conversations about the papers in front of them




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