Dr Catherine Flick

Job: Reader in Computing & Social Responsibility

Faculty: Computing, Engineering and Media

School/department: School of Computer Science and Informatics

Research group(s): Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH, United Kingdom

T: +44 (0) 116 207 8487

E: cflick@dmu.ac.uk

W: https://liedra.net

Social Media: https://www.twitter.com/CatherineFlick

 

Personal profile

Dr. Catherine Flick graduated with a BSc with majors in Computer Science and History & Philosophy of Science, Sydney University, Australia, while working in industry as a systems administrator and web programmer. She completed her Honours year with a thesis on Trusted Computing in History & Philosophy of Science (First Class), at Sydney University, Australia. Her PhD was on the topic of Informed Consent in ICT, at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University, Australia. Areas of research have involved ethics and video games, responsible research and innovation in technology, anonymous technologies, trusted computing, and informed consent in IT. 

Current projects

IGGI Centre for Doctoral Training Programme

Past projects

FRRIICT (ESRC)

Isis (ESRC/EPSRC)

EGAIS (EU FP7)

ETICA (EU FP7)

Responsible-Industry (EU FP7)

COMPASS (EU H2020)

3D Tune-In (EU H2020)

Living Innovation (EU H2020)

Publications and outputs

  • Cross-cultural patterns in mobile playtime: an analysis of 118 billion hours of human data
    Cross-cultural patterns in mobile playtime: an analysis of 118 billion hours of human data Zendle, David; Flick, Catherine; Halgarth, Darel; Ballou, Nick; Demediuk, Simon; Drachen, Anders Despite the prevalence of gaming as a human activity, the literature on playtime is uninformed by large-scale, high-quality data. This has led to an evidence-base in which the existence of specific cultural gaming cultures (e.g. exceptional levels of gaming in East Asian nations) are not well-supported by evidence. Here we address this evidence gap by conducting the world’s first large-scale investigation of cross-cultural differences in mobile gaming via telemetry analysis. Our data cover 118 billion hours of playtime occurring in 214 countries and regions between October 2020 and October 2021. A cluster analysis establishes a data-driven set of cross-cultural groupings that describe differences in how the world plays mobile games. Despite contemporary arguments regarding Asian exceptionalism in terms of playtime, analysis shows that many East Asian countries (e.g., China) were not highly differentiated from most high-GDP Northern European nations across several measures of play. Instead, a range of previously unstudied and highly differentiated cross-cultural clusters emerged from the data and are presented here, showcasing the diversity of global gaming. open access article Zendle, D., Flick, C., Halgarth, D., Ballou, N., Demediuk, S. and Drachen, A. (2023) Cross-cultural patterns in mobile playtime: an analysis of 118 billion hours of human data. Scientific Reports 13, 386
  • The Ethics of Creative AI
    The Ethics of Creative AI Flick, Catherine; Worrall, Kyle Creative AI has had and will continue to have immense impact on creative communities and society more broadly. Along with the great power these techniques provide, come significant ethical responsibilities in their setup, use, and the output works themselves. This chapter sets out the key ethical issues relating to Creative AI: copyright, replacement of authors/artists, bias in datasets, artistic essence, dangerous creations, deepfakes, and physical safety, and looks toward a future where responsible use of Creative AI can help to promote human flourishing within the technosocial landscape. After Vallor (2016), it suggests key technomoral values of honesty, humility, empathy, care, civility and flexibility as those which virtuous creative practitioners will want to embed within any practice conducted using Creative AI techniques. Flick, C. and Worrall, K. (2022). The Ethics of Creative AI. In: Vear, C., Poltronieri, F. (eds) The Language of Creative AI. Springer Series on Cultural Computing. Springer, pp. 73-91
  • A Critical Professional Ethical Analysis of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)
    A Critical Professional Ethical Analysis of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) Flick, Catherine Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) have quickly become an important part of the blockchain economy, theoretically representing ownership of a digital asset registered on a public blockchain such as Ethereum. While several applications of this technology exist, the key underlying factor in NFTs’ success is in their potential for investment – buying, selling, and trading the digital assets such as artwork or video game items using cryptocurrency. The rise and mid-2022 crash of NFT and associated crypto markets have shown the volatility of the sector, and questions have been raised around the sustainability, environmental impact, and exploitative practices within this space – and whether there are, in fact, any possible socially responsible use cases for NFTs. This paper aims to fill a gap in the literature surrounding NFTs, primarily through a thorough ethical analysis of the technology and its implementation, deployment, and sustainability. To do this, it uses the Association of Computing Machinery's Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct as a framework for analysis and, following this analysis, makes some recommendations for those wishing to investigate and/or implement NFTs in an ethically responsible manner. The key message is that unless there is absolutely no other way to solve a problem other than using NFTs, then they should not be implemented, as there is currently no ethical use case or means of implementation of NFTs. open access article Flick, C. (2022) A Critical Professional Ethical Analysis of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Journal of Responsible Technology, 100054
  • The Digital Network of Networks: Regulatory Risk and Policy Challenges of Vaccine Passports
    The Digital Network of Networks: Regulatory Risk and Policy Challenges of Vaccine Passports Wilford, S.; McBride, Neil; Brooks, Laurence; Eke, Damian; Akintoye, Sinmisola; Owoseni, Adebowale; Leach, Tonii; Flick, Catherine; Fisk, Malcolm; Stacey, Martin The extensive disruption to and digital transformation of travel administration across borders largely due to COVID-19 mean that digital vaccine passports are being developed to resume international travel and kick-start the global economy. Currently, a wide range of actors are using a variety of different approaches and technologies to develop such a system. This paper considers the techno-ethical issues raised by the digital nature of vaccine passports and the application of leading-edge technologies such as blockchain in developing and deploying them. We briefly analyse four of the most advanced systems – IBM’s Digital Health Passport “Common Pass,” the International Air Transport Association’s Travel Pass, the Linux Foundation Public Health’s COVID-19 Credentials Initiative and the Vaccination Credential Initiative (Microsoft and Oracle) – and then consider the approach being taken for the EU Digital COVID Certificate. Each of these raises a range of issues, particularly relating to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the need for standards and due diligence in the application of innovative technologies (eg blockchain) that will directly challenge policymakers when attempting to regulate within the network of networks. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link. Wilford, S., McBride, N., Brooks, L., Akintoye, S., Owoseni, A., Leach, A., Flick, C., Fisk, M., and Stacey, M. (2021). The Digital Network of Networks: Regulatory Risk and Policy Challenges of Vaccine Passports. European Journal of Risk Regulation
  • Ethical benchmarks for industry and commerce: a new landscape for responsible innovation
    Ethical benchmarks for industry and commerce: a new landscape for responsible innovation Fisk, Malcolm; Flick, Catherine; Owoseni, Adebowale This paper addresses a 'new landscape' for responsible innovation. It reports on different ethical reference points for industry and commerce. In this context, responsible innovation (and Responsible Research and Innovation, RRI) can be seen as a strand of thinking and doing to be found in several ethically oriented frameworks-including those represented by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and several international standards. Exploration of the new landscape took place within the European Commission funded LIV-IN (Living Innovation) project. This focused on technologies for our lives and our homes in 2030. Published sources, consultations with experts, and workshops with a range of consumers and customers informed the project. Such project activity utilised RRI approaches to explore technological futures for the 'focal' sectors of smart homes and smart living. This was supplemented by a specific dialogue with CSR consultants about the wider potential contribution of RRI (or elements of it) to industry and commerce in the context of other ethically-oriented frameworks. Fisk, M., Flick, C., and Owoseni, A. (2021) Ethical benchmarks for industry and commerce: a new landscape for responsible innovation. ETHICOMP2021 conference online. Jun. 10-Jul. 2, 2021.
  • Visualising home technologies of the future: a report from Leicester's diverse communities
    Visualising home technologies of the future: a report from Leicester's diverse communities Flick, Catherine; Owoseni, Adebowale; Fisk, Malcolm; Firth, Roxana In a previous ETHICOMP paper (Firth and Flick, 2020), we outlined a proposed method for engaging with those with low digital capital (often associated with low socio-economic status) in order to look at their sociotechnical imaginaries of home technologies of the future. In that paper, we argued that this is important to do because of the dramatic divide between those traditionally involved in developing such technologies, and those who may benefit or be harmed by them. The method proposed an arts-based expressive mechanism that gave “participants to explore and give shape to their ideas and future technologies by collaborating in creating art pieces”. In this paper we report back on the findings of this method: the results from art workshops conducted with Leicester families for the Living Innovation (EU H2020) project along with a reflection of the method involved, particularly given the context of COVID-19. Flick, C., Owoseni, A., Fisk, M., and Firth, R. (2021) Visualizing home technologies of the future: a report from Leicester diverse communities. ETHICOMP2021 conference.
  • Facebook's Project Aria indicates problems for responsible innovation when broadly deploying AR and other pervasive technology in the Commons
    Facebook's Project Aria indicates problems for responsible innovation when broadly deploying AR and other pervasive technology in the Commons Applin, Sally A.; Flick, Catherine Nearly every week, a technology company is introducing a new surveillance technology, varying from applying facial recognition to observing and cataloguing behaviours of the public in the Commons and private spaces, to listening and recording what we say, or mapping what we do, where we go, and who we're with—or as much of these facets of our lives as can be accessed. As such, the general public writ-large has had to wrestle with the colonization of publicly funded space, and the outcomes to each of our personal lives as a result of the massive harvesting and storing of our data, and the potential machine learning and processing applied to that data. Facebook, once content to harvest our data through its website, cookies, and apps on mobile phones and computers, has now planned to follow us more deeply into the Commons by developing new mapping technology combined with smart camera equipped Augmented Reality (AR) eyeglasses, that will track, render and record the Commons—and us with it. The resulting data will privately benefit Facebook's continued goal to expand its worldwide reach and growth. In this paper, we examine the ethical implications of Facebook's Project Aria research pilot through the perspectives of Responsible Innovation, comparing both existing understandings of Responsible Research and Innovation and Facebook's own Responsible Innovation Principles; we contextualise Project Aria within the Commons through applying current social multi-dimensional communications theory to understand the extensive socio-technological implications of Project Aria within society and culture; and we address the potentially serious consequences of the Facebook Project Aria experiment, inspiring countless other companies to shift their focus to compete with Project Aria, or beat it to the consumer marketplace. open access article Applin, S. A. and Flick, C. (2021) Facebook’s Project Aria indicates problems for responsible innovation when broadly deploying AR and other pervasive technology in the Commons. Journal of Responsible Technology, 5, 100010
  • The future of ICT for health and ageing: unveiling ethical and social issues through horizon scanning foresight
    The future of ICT for health and ageing: unveiling ethical and social issues through horizon scanning foresight Flick, Catherine; Zamani, Efpraxia; Brem, Alexander; Stahl, Bernd Carsten, 1968- This paper uses horizon scanning as a foresight methodology to investigate the opportunities, challenges and futures of ICT for health and ageing, particularly focusing on identifying the ethical and social issues associated with this sector. It uses empirical evidence gained from the analysis of interviews, literature reviews, and policy documents to identify the primary signals within the areas of future technologies, future environments, future companies, and future older people. In addition, we build on contemporary internet-based discussions amongst the general public and the ICT start-up sector to identify weak signals regarding ethical and social issues, based on and around these areas. Our findings show that the key ethical and social issues identified are concerned with the issue of the elderly being seen as collections of diseases, the human face of ICT, privacy and informed consent, autonomy, stereotyping of older people, and general anxieties around ICTs. We conclude our paper with recommendations for addressing these ethical and social concerns, specifically through the adoption of responsible research and innovation practices. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. Flick, C., Zamani, E. Brem, A., Stahl, B.C. (2020) The future of ICT for health and ageing: unveiling ethical and social issues through horizon scanning foresight. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, (In Press)
  • AR Games as a Potential Source of Improved Mental Wellbeing: Implications for self-help and individual support
    AR Games as a Potential Source of Improved Mental Wellbeing: Implications for self-help and individual support Urwin, Jessica; Flick, Catherine This paper argues that augmented reality (AR) games such as Pokémon Go are beneficial in enhancing the mood and mental wellbeing of players. Whilst developed purely for entertainment purposes, AR games can offer a number of social and emotional benefits. Within this paper Pokémon Go is used as an example. Whilst benefits from playing such as increased physical activity have been found to be short lived, the combination of active participation, positive reinforcement, and nostalgia that are central to Pokémon Go’s gameplay appear to have a longer impact upon mental wellbeing. Using survey data, this research considers three key aspects of mood in relation to the experience of gameplay: activity, relationships and environment. This highlights the impact playing Pokémon Go has on mood, and shows broader implications for the use of augmented reality games in self-help strategies and developing mental wellbeing on an individual level. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link. Urwin, J. and Flick, C. (2019) AR Games as a Potential Source of Improved Mental Wellbeing: Implications for self-help and individual support. Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds, 11 (3), pp. 309-328
  • Synthetic cannabinoid availability on darknet drug markets—changes during 2016–2017
    Synthetic cannabinoid availability on darknet drug markets—changes during 2016–2017 Scourfield, Andrew; Flick, Catherine; Ross, Jack; Wood, David M.; Thurtle, Natalie; Stellmach, Darryl; Dargan, Paul I. Changes in legislation have affected supply routes of new psychoactive substances such as synthetic cannabinoids with evidence of supply over the darknet. We identified darknet drug markets using an index database and Tor Browser to access markets. We identified SC in product listings using a custom-programmed script. We collected data at bimonthly intervals (August 2016–April 2017). Eleven darknet markets listed SC for sale, the largest number from China, UK, US, Netherlands, and Germany. Formulations available were high purity powder/crystal, smoking preparations and vape preparations. The top five listed compounds from China across the time points were FUB-AMB, ABD-FUBINACA, 5F-NPB-22, MAB-CHMINACA, and NM-2201. 5F-CUMYL-4CN-PINACA was unavailable at early time points but emerged during the study. Cost of high purity formulations from China ranged from 1.3 to 3.1 Euro per gram for quantities ≥1000 g. Europe and North America accounted for 99% smoking preparations predominantly in small packages (<50 g). SC are widely available on the darknet with availability changing over time. High purity formulations are predominantly available from China in quantities up to kilograms with price per gram reducing with increased quantity. Small packages of ready-made smoking mixtures are available from Europe and North America. open access article Scourfield, A., Flick, C., Ross, J. Wood, D. M., Thurtle, N., Stellmach, D. and Dargan, P. I. (2019) Synthetic cannabinoid availability on darknet drug markets—changes during 2016–2017, Toxicology Communications, 3(1), pp.7-15.

Click here to view a full listing of Catherine Flick's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

Social impact of emerging technologies

Blockchain (cryptocurrency, NFTs, etc.)

Social networks

Privacy and society

Development of ethics-centred systems

Informed consent in IT

Anonymous systems (TOR etc.)

Ethics of video games

Wearable technologies

Online child protection

Online activism/"slacktivism"

Trusted computing & general trust in computing

Ethical governance of technology

Areas of teaching

Computer Ethics

Research Methods and Ethics

Responsible Research and Innovation

Ethics of Emerging Technologies

Qualifications

PhD in Computer Ethics, BSc, PGCHE

Membership of external committees

ACM Committee on Professional Ethics

Membership of professional associations and societies

MACM (Association for Computing Machinery)

IFIP (International Federation of Information Processing) Member – Working Group 9.2 (Computing and Social Accountability), and SIG 9.2.2 (Ethical Framework for Computing)

Current research students

First supervisor for:

Michelle Brown

Matt Levesley (Horizon CDT)

Second supervisor for:

Ruairi Blake (Horizon CDT)

Florence Smith Nicholls (IGGI CDT, York)

Past students:

George Ogoh

Candace Grant 

Job Timmermans

Fathia Lahwal

Shireen Saifuddin

Eric Agyei-Bekoe

Yahya Al Alhareth