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Re-coding Black Mirror

Potential risks of semantic technologies
Semantic solutions against the misuse of technologies
Semantic technologies enabling or preventing Black Mirror's dystopian future


Black Mirror is a British science fiction television anthology series created by Charlie Brooker and centred around dark and satirical themes that examine modern society, particularly with regard to the unanticipated consequences of new technologies.

Re-coding Black Mirror is a half-day workshop which aims at exploring how (semantic) web technologies could prevent or minimise potential social and ethical risks emanating from the wide use of digital advancements, as the dystopian future seen in Black Mirror's episodes.


The workshop will take place on 22nd October 2017, 14:00 to 17:20, during the ISWC conference, at the campus of the WU, in Vienna, Austria. All papers are available through the online proceedings of the workshop, on the CEUR_WS website.

Note: The paper "Concealing Interests of Passive Users in Social Media" has been corrected since its publication in the online proceedings. The updated version of the paper can be found on the authors' github repository.

  • 14:00-14:20 - Workshop Introduction
  • Session 1 - Long papers
    • 14:20-14:45 - The Irrefutable History of You: Distributed Ledgers and Semantics for Ubiquitous Personal Ratings - Allan Third, John Domingue (15mins presentation + 10mins questions)
    • 14:45-15:10 - Memory and Privacy in The Entire History of You - Bianca Rodrigues Teixeira, Flavia Maria Santoro (15mins presentation + 10mins questions)
    • 15:10-15:35 - Concealing Interests of Passive Users in Social Media- Yaroslav Nechaev, Francesco Corcoglioniti, Claudio Giuliano (15mins presentation + 10mins questions)
  • 15:35-16:00 - Coffee Break
  • Session 2 - Short papers
    • 16:00-16:15 - 2100 AI: Reflections on the Mechanisation of Scientific Discovery - Andrea Mannocci, Angelo Salatino, Francesco Osborne, Enrico Motta (10mins presentation + 5mins questions)
    • 16:15-16:30 - Can Bots be Better Learners than Humans? - Wassim Derguech, Mathieu d'Aquin (10mins presentation + 5mins questions)
  • 16:30-17:20- Collective activity: What dystopian scenarios could emerge from ISWC 2017?
  • 17:20 - Closing


Re-coding Black Mirror is about creating connections between researchers building semantic web technologies and interested in their potential future implication on society, and researchers studying such impact of technology interested in the societal and ethical risks of such technological advances.

We expect two different types of works to be presented at the workshop, as briefly described by the following examples. Submissions are of course not restricted to those examples, but works addressing those scenarios would be very much welcome.

How semantic web technologies can enable scenarios like the ones depicted in Black Mirror

Here we are looking at how ongoing research in the semantic web community could lead to technological advances similar to what is presented in one specific episode (or a set of episodes if it is a recurring trend). For example:

How could advances in semantically combining results in natural language processing and social media analysis lead to the ability to create a bot mimicking the personality of a dead person from their online contributions? S02E01 - Be right back

How could semantic technologies be used to integrate information about another person from multiple online sources (digital footprinting), providing a mean for stalking or even blackmailing them? S03E03 - Shut Up and Dance

Works showing how semantic web technologies can be used to prevent or reduce the risks depicted in Black Mirror:

Many of the episodes in Black Mirror rely on a practice and use of technology which is either unexpected in itself, or which consequences are unexpected. Here we are looking at how semantic web technologies could reduce those risks. For example:

How could relying on semantic relations between people and information about their network/context prevents the appearance of extreme cases in user ratings? S03E01 - Nosedive

How could semantic content and network analysis be used to reduce or counter the spread of hate on social media? S03E06 - Hated in the Nation


Please submit your contribution to the workshop by July 28th 2017 (extended deadline) (23:59 Hawaii time) through the easychair system.

We accept three categories of submissions: full papers (max 12 pages) on research and applied technologies, short papers (max 6 pages) about visions and positions on forthcoming challenges and abstracts (max 2 pages) on the societal and ethical challenges of the aforementioned technologies.

All papers should be formatted using the Springer LNCS format.

We expect each paper to take as a starting point one futuristic scenario, either directly from Black Mirror or of a similar nature, as motivation for the work presented.

PC members

Kirstie Ball, School of Management, University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom

Pompeu Casanovas, Institute of Law and Technology, Universidad Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Lina Dencik, School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University, United Kingdom

Sara Degli Esposti, Internet Interdisciplinary Institute, Universdad Oberta de Catalunya, Spain

Stefan Dietze, L3S Research Cente, University of Leipzig, Germany

Seda Guerses, COSIC Research Group, K.U. Leuven, Belgium

Pascal Hitzler, Data Semantics Laboratory, Wright State University, U.S.A.

Sabrina Kirrane, Institute for Information Business, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria

Matthias Leese, Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Liisa Mäkinen, Social and Public Policy, University of Helsinki, Finland

Andrea Mannocci, Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, United Kingdom

Angelo Antonio Salatino, Knowledge Media Institute, The Open University, United Kingdom

Raphaël Troncy, Data Science Department, EURECOM, France

Daniel Trottier, Department of Media and Communication, Erasmus University of Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Dimitris Tsapogas, Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Nikolas Thomopoulos, Systems Management and Strategy, University of Greenwich, United Kingdom

Lachlan Urquhart, Information Technology Law, Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, United Kingdom

Frank Van Harmelen, Network Institute, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Pieter Verdegem, School of Media, Arts & Design, University of Westminster, United Kingdom

Serena Villata, SPARKS-WIMMICS, INRIA, France



Pinelopi Troullinou

Pinelopi is a Research Assistant at the Data Science Group of the Knowledge Media Institute, Open University (UK). Her research focuses on technology and society and more specifically on the surveillance occurring through the use of personal digital gadgets. Her Ph.D. research addressed issues of the subjective everyday surveillance using as a case study the smartphone devices. She specifically explored young users' articulation of the relationship with their smartphones and the negotiation with their surveillant aspects conducting focus groups with students at British universities and employing the use of visual vignettes. Pinelopi was Visiting Lecturer at the University of Westminster and Leeds Metropolitan University and Research Assistant for the fp7 project ICT ethics. She has been member of the organizing committee of international conferences, workshops and a summer school. She has presented her work in major conference mainly of the surveillance studies community and is co-editor of a special issue on surveillance and privacy at Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture.


Mathieu d'Aquin

Mathieu is a Professor of Informatics specialised in data analytics and semantic technologies at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics of the National University of Ireland Galway. He was previously Senior Research Fellow at the Knowledge Media Institute of the Open University, where he led the Data Science Group. Hes is leading research and development activities around the meaningful sharing and exploitation of distributed information. He has worked on applying the technologies coming out of his research, especially Semantic Web/Linked Data technologies, in various domains including medicine, education especially through learning analytics, Smart Cities and the Internet of Things, personal data management, etc.


Ilaria Tiddi

Ilaria is a Research Associate in the Data Science Group of the Knowledge Media Institute of the Open University (UK). Her research is currently focusing on the interaction between robots and smart cities, and particularly on how robots can be integrated in a smart environment both as data producers and consumers, and how they can use the heterogeneous knowledge of the city to improve their tasks. As part of her Ph.D. research, Ilaria focused on exploiting Linked Data for Knowledge Discovery, through combining different machine learning and graph techniques to explain patterns automatically using information found in the Linked Data. Ilaria was part of the organisation of the LD4KD workshops ( LD4KD2014 , LD4KD2015 ), assisted the organisation of the Semantic Web Summer School ( SSSW2015 , SSSW2016 ) and will be publicity chair of the next Knowledge Capture ( KCAP2017 ) conference.