Defence Against Dark Artefacts: start up activity

Defence Against Dark Artefacts (DADA) commenced with a meeting on Sept 6th at the Department of Computer Science & Technology, University of Cambridge.

Over the next two years the project will investigate how to identify devices running in the home environment which have been compromised by malware, and how the social context of the home should inform appropriate interactions between infrastructure and inhabitants.

The project team which comprises of three computer scientists, two sociologists and legal studies scholar, recently met with industry partners to learn about their experiences of wrestling with exactly these questions – how to protect domestic users from bad actors in an increasingly complex technical environment, and doing so in a way which doesn’t generate its own problems by, for example, inadvertently sharing sensitive personal information between people within the home, or by disabling critical devices at a moment when they are most required?

Digital infrastructures in the home have up to this point, proceeded by hiding themselves away from the user as much as possible. As these networks become ever more integrated into to domestic practices, and targeted by external threats, DADA is considering how we might begin to surface some aspects of the technology to users, in order to intervene in a manner which is locally appropriate, and accountable to those users.

Our next step is to complete the hiring of researchers – two computer scientists, an ethnographer, a sociologist and a User Interace designer. Following this, preparatory work will  begin on technical and social science work. The final phase will involve hiring an animator to work with the team to create a series of design fictions exploring this space. These will then be used in focus groups for understanding user responses to the proposed technologies, and then in further public engagement activities.