The addition of information technology is transforming the way society provides important infrastructures, including telecommunications, power, and transport as well as ideas, culture, and scientific data. Thanks to new capabilities in computing and control, every year, infrastructures claim to be “smarter” with new capacities for distributed processing, indexing, sensing, memory, and even self-reconfiguration. This radical transformation is well underway, but the assessment of its consequences is still in its infancy.
Infrastructure unevenly distributes benefits and capabilities, with implications for politics, economics, knowledge, and social justice (to name just a few domains). This proposal aims to identify new research directions in the emerging social scientific and technical areas addressing this issue—known as “infrastructure studies.” It will bring together three faculty members who have not previously collaborated on a research project to recruit a postdoctoral scholar producing research at the frontier of this area.