Next meeting: October 10, 5pm – James Shires on Ethics and Technology Transfers

Our next meeting will be on Oct 10 at 5pm in room 302N at 1 Devonshire Pl, or remotely via

James Shires will be presenting his paper, titled

Responses by intrusion and surveillance companies to the 2013 Wassenaar amendment

This paper examines the discourse of companies selling intrusion and surveillance technologies around the 2013 amendment to the Wassenaar Arrangement, taken from both public statements and leaked documents. It identifies two main responses: distance, in which the company uses a variety of tactics to deflect the force of ethical judgements, and engagement, in which the company adapts ethical considerations to appear congruent with its prior practices. It argues that distance is constrained by the requirement for close oversight of the technologies, while engagement permits the strategic deployment of an ethically motivated identity for advantage.
Paper plan (readers familiar with or not interested in Parts 1-3 feel free to skip straight to Part 4):
Part 1 situates the paper in current International Relations theory.
Part 2 provides an overview of the Wassenaar Arrangement as an ethical constraint, using the UK export regime as an example.
Part 3 provides an overview of the association of intrusion and surveillance technologies with human rights violations, partly based on reports by the Citizen Lab.
Part 4 examines the discourse of companies such as HackingTeam and NSO Group selling such technologies.

Bio:James Shires is a DPhil candidate in International Relations and Research Affiliate at the Cyber Studies Programme, at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford. His research examines the emergence of cybersecurity in the Middle East, focusing on relationships between governments, businesses, and international organisations and the ethical implications of such relationships. He has an MSc in Global Governance and Public Policy from Birkbeck College, University of London, a BA in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge, and has worked on cybersecurity policy and analysis in the UK Ministry of Defence and Home Office.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Next meeting: Nov 2, 4pm – Ian Miller on Networks, Complexity, and Intelligence

Join us for our monthly seminar meeting with a presentation on collective intelligence by Ian Miller followed by a group discussion.

Ian described his research as follows:

I take the perspective that social phenomena can be modelled with the use of computational agents, and that psychology provides models of agent behaviour.  Agents may be connected through a variety of networks that provide mediated vectors of transmission. In the particular case of online information networks, we observe nonlinear transmission phenomena in which memes (a unit of cultural reproduction) spread as a social information epidemic.  Online memes are a mechanism for agents to message and influence one another, providing a social coordination function. My work therefore uses social agents who transmit memes to model and explore social phenomena.


In this talk, I will discuss several recent studies, including:

– 2016 US presidential candidates and the memes created about them

– urban legend transmission

– the influence of Individuals and Organizations in open source software

– a computer simulation of the human population

– the research literature of social psychology and artificial intelligence




We are an interdisciplinary network of researchers with a shared interest in topics concerning the relationship between the Internet and society. Because more and more of our daily lives are affected by technology, technological development and social change are increasingly intertwined. Addressing questions around these changes in turn requires expertise from more than one discipline. That is why our aim is to share expertise, give each other feedback on research projects or ideas and establish dialogue that reaches across traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Our members include scholars from computer science, information science, psychology, sociology and political science and we currently hold monthly seminar meetings where people present finished projects or ask for feedback on initial ideas. These meetings are open to anyone interested and will be announced on the website.