James Williams is an OII DPhil alumnus. He studied the ethics of attention and persuasion in technology design.
James Williams is a doctoral candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute. His research addresses the philosophy and ethics of attention and persuasion as they relate to technology design. In particular, he is interested in advancing the ways we can understand and protect user freedom in environments of highly persuasive design.
James is a member of the Digital Ethics Lab and a visiting researcher at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. He is also a tutor in the Oxford Computer Science department and has helped teach the Internet Technology and Regulation postgraduate course at the OII.
Prior to this, he worked for over ten years at Google, where he received the Founders’ Award – the company’s highest honour – for his work on advertising products and tools. He holds a master’s in product design engineering from the University of Washington and as an undergraduate studied literature at Seattle Pacific University. He is also a co-founder of the Time Well Spent campaign, a project that aims to steer technology design towards having greater respect for users’ attention, goals and values.
James is a frequent speaker, consultant for companies and governments, and commentator on technology issues in the media. In addition to philosophy, ethics, and technology design, his interests include virtual/mixed reality systems, languages, space travel, and the work of James Joyce. His first computer was a TI-99/4A.
James holds a M.S. in Human-Centered Design and Engineering from the University of Washington and a B.A. in English Literature from Seattle Pacific University.
philosophy, ethics, attention, persuasive technology, behavioral economics, games, task and goal management, virtual reality, augmented reality, literature, narrative, human-computer interaction, education, advertising, product design
Positions held at the OII
- DPhil student, October 2011 –
Supervisors at the OII
- (2016) "Why It's OK to Block Ads" In: Philosophers Take On the World Edmonds, D. (eds.).
30 May 2017
James Williams, an OII doctoral candidate researching design ethics, is the inaugural winner of the US$100,000 Nine Dots Prize.
Oxford Internet Institute Launches Digital Ethics Lab: Tackles Ethical Challenges Posed by Digital Innovation
17 May 2017
The Oxford Internet Institute has today launched the Digital Ethics Lab (“DELab”), which aims to tackle the ethical challenges posed by digital innovation.
24 May 2014
Author: James Williams
Last month two new Banksy installations emerged, and they have something important to say about what we choose to fear in the age of the ...
29 July 2013
Author: James Williams
Technologies are increasingly being designed to change the way we think and behave. While there has been excitement recently about designing information environments to ...
15 March 2012 The Atlantic
OII Doctoral candidate James Williams informed an article on the implications of the use of large-scale data charting human behaviour garnered by users of persuasive technologies. It claims that advertisers seek to alter user behaviours.