The quantity of children's personal data is unprecedented in history, giving rise to precisely personalized services but threatening children's ability to make unbiased and informed choices. Drawing on her and colleagues' research, Natalia's impact work falls into four main areas:
Development of ethical algorithms aimed at children
Design of personal data servers that protect children's rights
Participatory research with adult and children on personalized books
Work with governments on new data regulations and design
The Internet was not designed for children. Designers and researchers need to work together to position children at the Centre of the development of algorithms and Web 3.0. KidRec has been doing so since 2017. KidRec stands for the International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Children & Recommender and Information Retrieval Systems, and natalia is central to its involvement of educators.
Children's data are colected by many institutions and stored in many places, making it difficult to have an integrated overview of a child's profile. Micro-servers are small servers that aggregate personal data and are managed by individuals. A child's caregiver can thus decide who uses which data for which purpose. Prof Kucirkova is Co-Investigator on an EPSRC-funded project with HatLab and a consortium of universities.
Personalized books use personal information about a child for bespoke stories. When Natalia started researching personalized books in 2009, they were a niche book market. Today, there are hundreds of personalized book publishers. Professor Kucirkova has given internal seminars at the most successful companies like Wonderbly and offers consultancy services to start-ups interested in personalized books. She regularly runs workshops where children make their own personalized books with tablets/iPads.
Professor Kucirkova works with policy-makers and government organisations to embed ethical and research-based models of personal data use. Examples include: Guidance on how Recommendation Algorithms work funded by the EU COST Action, response to the UN Call on Children's Digital Rights, white papers on Protecting Children's Data and a number of explanatory articles on children's data (mis)use for general public.