Madelyn Nelson of ASU interviews Katina Michael

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Professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering at Arizona State University

Katina Michael discovered something important when she started walking. 

“Everything happens in a flash, life happens in a flash. If we don’t stop this quick way of living, then we’re on this treadmill of constant flashes,” she explained. “But if you stop and just walk —  without headphones, without your cell phone — you hear people and see people. The risk of looking up and engaging with the world means that you might have to face the problem.” 

This idea of foregoing our comforts and our technologies in favor of slowing down and reflecting on life is the cornerstone of Michael’s work. She says, “We’re giving over control, to some degree, to the technology. And in doing so, we’re not developing the self. Technology can sometimes be used as an excuse to ignore the inward process of human development.” 

She researches predominantly in the area of emerging technologies, and has secondary interests in technologies used for national security and their corresponding social implications. Like many of her colleagues at SFIS, Michael realizes the importance of examining the risks and potential consequences of emerging technology and science. 

She has held visiting academic appointments at Nanjing University (China) and the University of Southampton (U.K.) and has taught at the Singapore Institute of Management, as well as overseeing UOW engineering and information science courses in eight campuses in five countries. In 2017, Michael was awarded the Brian M. O’Connell Distinguished Service Award from the Society for the Social Implications of Technology. She is the founding editor-in-chief of the IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society, which will be launched in 2020. 

Before finding her way to SFIS, Michael served as associate dean international at the University of Wollongong (UOW), Australia, where she was employed in the School of Computing and Information Technology. As for why she decided to pack up and move to the States to join the faculty at SFIS, she said: “I think I was always meant to be here. I grew up in Tempe, New South Wales,” she laughed. “But aside from that, it was the people here. And I’d been in Wollongong working at the same campus for seventeen years, so for me to leave, it had to be something really special.”