University College London apologises for its role in promoting eugenics. This shows how changes in ideas may change the authoritative place of scientific knowledge.
UCL acknowledges with deep regret that it played a fundamental role in the development, propagation and legitimisation of eugenics. This dangerous ideology cemented the spurious idea that varieties of human life could be assigned different value. It provided justification for some of the most appalling crimes in human history: genocide, forced euthanasia, colonialism and other forms of mass murder and oppression based on racial and ableist hierarchy.
Facilitating knowledge systems that discriminate individuals based on whatever label the moment (de)values is as present today as Galton’s long century. Digital identification today may pass for simple databases facilitating social wlefare but they are also being used to re-categorize individuals based off their visible activities. I hope the University of Oxford and the Tony Blair Institute will not have to apologize 100 years later for facilitating digital identification projects without hindsight on what harms they may be causing by moving populations from necessary IDs to ubiquitous ones.