Mhairi Aitken

Mhairi Aitken
Newcastle University | NCL

BA Hons, MSc, PhD

About

51
Publications
12,262
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Introduction
I am a Sociologist interested in social and ethical dimensions of digital innovation particularly relating to uses of data and AI. Currently I work on the EPSRC funded FinTrust project exploring the role of machine learning in banking: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/latest/2018/11/fintrust/ Prior to joining Newcastle University, I worked as a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh where I undertook a programme of research and public engagement to explore social and ethical dimensions of data-intensive health research. I held roles as a Public Engagement Research Fellow in both the Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research and the Scottish Health Informatics Programme. My PhD and Post-Doc research examined public engagement relating to renewable energy.

Publications

Publications (51)
Article
The Scottish Health Informatics Programme (SHIP) was a Scotland-wide research programme exploring ways of collecting, managing and analysing electronic patient records for health research. As part of the SHIP public engagement work stream, a series of eight focus groups and a stakeholder workshop were conducted to explore perceptions of the role, r...
Article
In light of the growing emphasis on community engagement in the literature on renewable energy planning, and given the acknowledgement of the complexity of community engagement as a concept, we conducted an empirical review of practice relating to community engagement with onshore wind farms in the UK, exploring what is actually happening in terms...
Article
In March 2012 the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed a motion 'strongly endors[ing] the opportunity for Scotland to champion climate justice'. To date, discussions around climate justice within Scottish policy have largely focussed on international dimensions. Questions remain as to what climate justice means at home in Scotland. This article a...
Article
Climate change has come to hold a central position within many policy arenas. However, a particular framing of climate change and climate science, underpinned by modernist assumptions, dominates policy discourse. This leads to restricted policy responses reflecting particular interests and socio-political imaginaries. There is little public debate...
Book
Full-text available
Analyses the attitudes of Scottish citizens towards the sharing of personal data between the public, private and third1 sectors for statistical and research purposes. Specific objectives of the research were to establish: whether and how attitudes and sensitivities vary depending on the types of organisations involved, the type of data being shared...
Preprint
Full-text available
In the past decade, the financial industry has experienced a technology revolution. While we witness a rapid introduction of conversational bots for financial services, there is a lack of understanding of conversational user interfaces (CUI) features in this domain. The finance industry also deals with highly sensitive information and monetary tran...
Article
Full-text available
Quality deliberation is essential for societies to address the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic effectively and legitimately. Critics of deliberative and participatory democracy are highly skeptical that most citizens can engage with such complex issues in good circumstances and these are far from ideal circumstances. The need for r...
Article
Full-text available
While the field of data ethics is increasingly engaging with the complex socio-technical nature of data practices and their impacts, in the private sector, data ethics continues to be pursued largely through limited instrumental measures. This paper addresses the following research question: How can socially-minded data-intensive innovation be purs...
Chapter
Full-text available
While there is substantial interest in ethical practice relating to Artificial Intelligence (AI), to date there has been limited consideration of what this means in the banking sector. This study aimed to address this gap in the literature through a qualitative study of public attitudes and perceptions of current and potential future uses of AI in...
Preprint
Full-text available
Concerns about the societal impact of AI-based services and systems has encouraged governments and other organisations around the world to propose AI policy frameworks to address fairness, accountability, transparency and related topics. To achieve the objectives of these frameworks, the data and software engineers who build machine-learning system...
Preprint
Full-text available
FinBots are chatbots built on automated decision technology, aimed to facilitate accessible banking and to support customers in making financial decisions. Chatbots are increasing in prevalence, sometimes even equipped to mimic human social rules, expectations and norms, decreasing the necessity for human-to-human interaction. As banks and financia...
Article
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The global coronavirus pandemic has clearly demonstrated the great urgency to collect and use patient data effectively to understand, track and manage the spread of Covid-19. The value of patient data in this pandemic is undeniable, however considerations around how - and by whom - such data should be collected, accessed and used, and for what purp...
Article
Full-text available
Current attention directed at ethical dimensions of data and Artificial Intelligence have led to increasing recognition of the need to secure and maintain public support for uses (and reuses) of people’s data. This is essential to establish a “Social Licence” for current and future practices. The notion of a “Social Licence” recognises that there c...
Preprint
Full-text available
To build AI-based systems that users and the public can justifiably trust one needs to understand how machine learning technologies impact trust put in these services. To guide technology developments, this paper provides a systematic approach to relate social science concepts of trust with the technologies used in AI-based services and products. W...
Article
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This consensus statement reflects the deliberations of an international group of stakeholders with a range of expertise in public involvement and engagement (PI&E) relating to data-intensive health research. It sets out eight key principles to establish a secure role for PI&E in and with the research community internationally and ensure best practi...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Data-intensive health research is a fast moving field in which public involvement and engagement (PI\&E) is essential for developing socially acceptable and ethically robust processes and ensuring a social license for research practices. Nevertheless while some consensus is emerging around the importance of PI\&E, commitments and pract...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Public benefits serve as a key justification for secondary uses of data in health research. Yet, while it is known that assurances of public benefits are vital for ongoing public support, there is a lack of clarity regarding what constitutes a public benefit. Objectives and Approach Our research aimed to understand public expectations...
Article
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The digitization of society and academic research endeavours have led to an explosion of interest in the potential uses of population data in research. Alongside this, increasing attention is focussing on the conditions necessary for maintaining a social license for research practices. Previous research has pointed to the importance of demonstratin...
Article
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The potential for data collected in the public and private sector to be linked and used in research has led to increasing interest in public acceptability of data sharing and data linkage. The literature has identified a range of factors that are important for shaping public responses and in particular has noted that public support for research con...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Scottish Government is committed to championing climate justice. This report:  - Defines climate justice;  - Places climate justice in the context of the Scottish Government’s draft Climate Change Plan, Energy Strategy and Programme for Government 2017-18; - Sets out key considerations to be addressed to realise potential climate justice ben...
Article
This paper presents the findings of a research project evaluating community benefit models for offshore renewables. We identify and analyse UK and international case studies of different forms of community benefit, and provide evidence of how such benefits are delivered. In particular we consider the key relationship between the identification of c...
Article
Full-text available
Background: The past 10 years have witnessed a significant growth in sharing of health data for secondary uses. Alongside this there has been growing interest in the public acceptability of data sharing and data linkage practices. Public acceptance is recognised as crucial for ensuring the legitimacy of current practices and systems of governance....
Conference Paper
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHB9gtONOv8 Filmed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as part of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, on the 15th August 2016. Your Clubcard may say more about you than your DNA, so should it be considered more private? When it comes to understanding patterns in health and illness, examining our data may be even more powe...
Article
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Background: Many policymakers, researchers and commentators argue that hospital closures are necessary as health systems adapt to new technological and financial contexts, and as population health needs in developed countries shift. However closures are often unpopular with local communities. Previous research has characterised public opposition a...
Article
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The Scottish Government has set out its ‘Long-Term Vision for Active Travel in Scotland 2030’ which lists a number of benefits anticipated through increasing uptake of active travel including: ‘better health, having attractive, safe communities and increased economic activity’. It is however noted that achieving this vision ‘will require many disci...
Article
Interest in Community Benefits (CB) has increased over the past decade mainly due to the growing number of wind farms and related criticism. Because CB are a voluntary gesture by the developer, there is no standard practice or institutionalised approach for good governance of the benefits; every community has a different approach, tailored to local...
Article
Full-text available
This is a time of real significance for community energy. Governments in Scotland and the UK, as well as across Europe and around the world, are increasingly turning their attention to the opportunities that energy projects led by communities or with community involvement can provide. In this paper, we focus in particular on the Scottish context to...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This project evaluates existing practices in community benefit models for offshore renewables. We identify and evaluate national and international case studies of different community benefit models, and provide evidence of how community benefits are delivered and distributed. In particular we consider the key relationship between how communities ar...
Technical Report
This project evaluates existing practices in community benefit models for offshore renewables. We identify and evaluate national and international case studies of different community benefit models, and provide evidence of how community benefits are delivered and distributed. In particular we consider the key relationship between how communities ar...
Technical Report
This project evaluates existing practices in community benefit models for offshore renewables. We identify and evaluate national and international case studies of different community benefit models, and provide evidence of how community benefits are delivered and distributed. In particular we consider the key relationship between how communities ar...
Technical Report
This project evaluates existing practices in community benefit models for offshore renewables. We identify and evaluate national and international case studies of different community benefit models, and provide evidence of how community benefits are delivered and distributed. In particular we consider the key relationship between how communities ar...
Technical Report
This project evaluates existing practices in community benefit models for offshore renewables. We identify and evaluate national and international case studies of different community benefit models, and provide evidence of how community benefits are delivered and distributed. In particular we consider the key relationship between how communities ar...
Technical Report
Full-text available
A review of community investment in commercial renewable energy schemes was commissioned by the Scottish Government Onshore Renewables and Community Energy Team. This report presents an analysis of the factors which support and limit the ability of communities to invest in commercial renewable energy schemes, and makes recommendations for action ba...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report provides evidence and discussion of good practice in engaging the public about on- and offshore wind farms. It gives an overview of the planning regimes in different countries across Europe, focusing on the opportunities, timing, and procedures for community engagement. We explore case studies of wind farms which have used various good...
Conference Paper
Video available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY2_vnt-hJ0 Filmed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 15th August 2014. As part of the "Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas", Dr Mhairi Aitken (University of Edinburgh) discusses whether our information should be thought of as private and belonging to each us or as a public asset that should be sold in a...
Article
The challenging nature of public participation in planning has been well-documented and there are frequent observations that this does not go far enough. Accordingly, since the turn of the century attention has turned to the ways in which public participation might be strengthened and improved through e-participation methods. This article aims to e...
Article
The Scottish Health Informatics Programme is an ambitious, Scotland-wide research platform for the collation, management, dissemination and analysis of electronic patient records. It is creating a research portal for electronic patient records held by NHS Scotland that will provide rapid, secure access to the type of data required by population hea...
Article
A challenge relating to the development of renewable energy in the UK concerns how large companies can foster positive relationships with local communities. The concepts of ‘trust’ and ‘fairness’ are central to debates around proposed renewable energy developments, however, these concepts are complex, ambiguous and interrelated. In the UK the provi...
Article
Full-text available
Current planning policies place significant emphasis on the importance of public participation. Through a case study of a planning application for a wind power development in Scotland, this article examines the realities of such policy commitments. It seeks to evaluate to what extent the planning process represents an exercise in participation — en...
Article
The literature on public attitudes to wind power is underpinned by key assumptions which limit its scope and restrict the findings it can present. Five key assumptions are that: (1) The majority of the public supports wind power. (2) Opposition to wind power is therefore deviant. (3) Opponents are ignorant or misinformed. (4) The reason for underst...
Article
UK and Scottish planning policies include commitments to reflect the views of the public. However, this case study of one planning application for a wind farm in rural Scotland highlights the limited role played by lay knowledge within planning processes. The planning application process had two separate stages which structured the roles of lay and...
Article
Full-text available
There have been conflicting accounts of the role and influence of local opposition within planning application outcomes for wind power developments. There is an expanding literature that considers public responses to proposed renewable energy developments and much of this suggests that public opposition is a key factor in the slow growth in renewab...
Article
Today's society is an increasingly technological one, and the importance of access to new technologies – particularly Information Communication Technology (ICT) – cannot be underestimated. Castells's theory of the 'Network Society' has demonstrated the importance of being connected to networks within this new society – and the negative consequences...
Article
Energy use and production have become highly salient within both national and international policy. This reflects an international recognition of the need to cut emissions in order to mitigate the threats of climate change. Within the UK there is significant policy support for renewable energy development generally, and wind power in particular. Ne...
Article
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is talked about a great deal in contemporary academic as well as corporate and commercial circles. This paper argues that despite, or perhaps because of, its fashionable status, CSR is an ill-defined concept which has consequently been interpreted and implemented in numerous different, and even conflicting, way...
Article
Full-text available
The 2007 Energy White Paper states that the UK needs an extra 40 to 45% of electricity generating capacity over the next 20 years. However, there is increasing debate about the proposed development of new power plants in the UK. Given recent public interest in new technologies it is important to understand this debate not just in a technological fr...