Over the summer of 2014, Tim Maughan joined the nomadic design studio Unknown Fields on a three week long journey. They followed a supply chain (in reverse) from South Korea to China to trace the source of our consumer goods. After spending a week on a container ship visiting the mega-ports of South Korea, Taiwan, and China, followed by visits to factories in Shenzhen and Yiwu, they ended up in Inner Mongolia where they witnessed the environmental impact of mining the rare earth materials used to manufacture consumer electronics.
In this talk, Tim outlines how the this rare glimpse behind the curtain of capitalism changed his perspective on globalization. He also explores the role that algorithms play in managing this vast, earth-spanning semi-autonomous infrastructure, and looks at the impact that the manufacturing of everyday items has on both the environment and human lives.
Tim Maughan is an author, journalist, and features writer using both fiction and non-fiction to explore issues around cities, class, culture, globalisation, technology, and the future. His work regularly appears on the BBC, Vice, and New Scientist.
Data & Society’s “Databites” speaker series presents timely conversations about the purpose and power of technology, bridging our interdisciplinary research with broader public conversations about the societal implications of data and automation.