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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L012626/1
Title: Digital Personhood Network
Principal Investigator: Chantler, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: S of Mathematical and Computer Sciences
Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Scheme: Network
Starts: 31 December 2013 Ends: 31 December 2017 Value (£): 156,238
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Computer Graphics & Visual. Human Communication in ICT
Human-Computer Interactions Information & Knowledge Mgmt
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Creative Industries Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form

In January 2013 the Government Office for Science published the results of a year-long Foresight study on Future Identities. It was led by Sir John Beddington, the Government Chief Scientific Advisor. One of its main conclusions was that people's identities are likely to be significantly affected by technology over the next 10 years due to the emergence hyper-connectivity (afforded by smart phones and similar devices), the spread of social media and the increase in online personal information. People now have multiple overlapping and not necessarily consistent identities and they often express their identities through membership of social and professional groups, often not being aware of conditions of use, or ownership, or that some organisations may use information intended for social use for vetting purposes.

What is clear is that digital identity and digital personhood are playing increasingly important roles in our lives and that we are not fully aware of the implications of their potential use, creation, ownership, exploitation or control.

The Digital Economy Theme has therefore initiated a £5M programme of research in 'Digital Personhood' comprising five research projects led by eminent academics from a wide variety of disciplines. The initial remit covers:

a) Overcoming barriers to the expression of digital identity.

b) Curating personal, digital narratives and memories.

c) Physical proxies of digital self: connecting the digital and physical world.

d) Multiple, digital projections and online identities.

e) Understanding how citizens could be empowered by utilizing the value of their digital self.

The Digital Personhood Network will facilitate collaboration across all of these and other relevant research projects in order that can they maximise their collective impact. A series of open meetings will be held that will include other relevant stakeholders and will allow projects to share and benefit from each other's results, expertise and contacts. These meetings will also allow the participants to develop a common view or 'map' of this emerging research area and its associated societal challenges. This 'map' will help aid public understanding of the different aspects, contexts and issues concerning Digital Personhood. It will allow the results from the projects to be quickly located via the Network's website and applications which will be similarly structured. Finally we expect that it will inform and structure discussion of the issues and area at government and funding council level.

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Organisation Website: http://www.hw.ac.uk