Via The Data Justice Lab.
Microsoft Cognitive Services (sounds like something from a Phillip K. Dick novel) have opened up APIs, which you can call on (req. subscription), to outsource forms of machine learning. So, if you want to identify faces in pictures or videos you can call on the “Face API“, for example. Obviously, this is all old news… but, it’s sort of interesting to maybe think about how this foregrounds the homogenisation of process – the apparent ‘power’ of these particular programmes (accessed via their APIs) may be their widespread use.
This might be of further interest when we consider things like the “Emotion API” through which (in line with many other forms of programmatic measure of the display or representation of ’emotion’ or ‘sentiment’) the programme scores a facial expression along several measures”, listed in the free example as: “anger”, “contempt”, “disgust”,” fear, “happiness”, “neutral”, “sadness”, “surprise”. For each image you’ll get a table of scores for each recognised face. Have a play – its beguiling, but of course then perhaps prompts the sorts of questions lots of people have been asking about how ‘affect’ and emotions can get codified (e.g. Massumi) and the politics and ethics of the ‘algorithms’ and such like that do these things (e.g. Beer).
I am probably late to all of this and seeing significance here because it’s relatively novel to me (not the tech itself but the ‘easy-to-use’ API structure), nevertheless it seems interesting, to me at least, that these forms of machine learning are being produced as mundane through being made abundant, as apparently straightforward tools. Maybe what I’m picking up on is that these APIs, the programmes they grant access to, are relatively transparent, whereas much of what various ‘algorithm studies’ folk look at is opaque. Microsoft’s Cognitive Services make mundane what, to some, are very political technologies.
This looks interesting… I confess I’ve not listened yet.
This looks really interesting. Mel Gregg has done some excellent work and is a good communicator so I’m sure this is a great opportunity…
27th February 2017, 9:30—17:00
Dr Gregg is a leading world scholar in the field of gender, technology and critical management studies. She is best known for her ethnographic research of information professionals in the book Work’s Intimacy (Polity 2011), and as co-editor of the influential collection The Affect Theory Reader (with Gregory Seigworth, Duke 2010). Dr Gregg is currently working as a Principal Engineer at Intel Corporation and is exceptionally well placed to address the challenges in bridging the gap between organisational scholarship and practice.
This Masterclass is aimed at postgraduate students, academic staff and the wider community and will engage the participants in a critical, interdisciplinary debate on gender, subjectivity, organisations and organising. The day will be organised around recent themes in Dr Gregg’s work that explore technology, gender and culture in Silicon Valley; and methodologies for studying work and society.
Schedule for the Day
9.30-10.00am – Refreshments
10.00-11.30am – Counterproductive: The history of time management from a feminist perspective
11.30-12.00pm – Refreshments
12.00-1.30pm – Technology and the future of work
1.30-2.30pm – Lunch
2.30-4.30pm – Group Discussion: Gender, Culture and Methods
4.30-5.00pm – Refreshments Registration
The Masterclass is free and participants should register by emailing one of the organisers. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. Please also state any dietary requirements. Spaces are limited to 30 participants.
For further information, please contact one of the organisers.
Worth a watch…
Some really interesting work from the Tactical Team looking at the ways in which different people and their skills and knowledges move in and out of government and the ‘Alphabet empire’. Worth a full read, but here’s a snippet to whet the appetite…
The Alphabet Empire by Tactical Tech and La Loma as shown in The Glass Room in New York. Based on openly available information, this 3-D infographic combines a quote from its chairman, Eric Schmidt, with a mapping of its acquisitions and investments.
By Google’s own admission, the company, like many others, cultivates close relationships with governmental bodies and public officials. Google disclosed that in 2015 it spent over €4 million on lobbying the European Union – considerably more than the €1 million on lobbying spent just three years previously in 2012.
But some of Google’s relationships with public bodies and officials come with a smaller price tag: Over the past ten years at least 80 people have been identified to have moved jobs between Google and European governments.
It’s this “revolving door” that formed the basis of our investigation. We started out with a number of questions: who were these people who had moved from Google to government or vice versa? Where exactly did they move from and to, and when? And most importantly how many of these questions could we find answers to using open, publicly-available information?
Via Tony Sampson…
Call for presentations and artworks
Affect and Social Media#3
Including the Sensorium Art Show (the sequel)
Event Date: Thurs 25th May, 2017
Venue: University of East London, Docklands Campus
Confirmed keynote: Prof Jessica Ringrose (UCL)
Call for 15min presentations and artworks
The organizers of A&SM#3 welcome proposals for 15min presentations and artworks that interpret and explore the affective, feely and emotional encounters with social media grasped through the following themes:
Presentations and artworks can widely interpret each theme, but preference will be given to proposals that respond in two ways.
Firstly, the organizers are particularly interested in creative responses (academic and artistic) to recent social media events – the US election, for example. So proposals might address how the Trump win allows us to develop a fresh understanding of shared experiences, emotional engagements or new entanglements with social media.
Secondly, we ask presenters and artists to consider how their approach to affect and social media can be put to work in an education context. For example, how can the potential of affect theory reach out across teaching practices and develop novel understandings of the political nature and transformative possibilities of teaching.
The academic part of this call is open to experienced scholars, new researchers and postgrad students from across the disciplinary boundaries of affect studies and related areas of study interested in theorizing and working with emotion and feelings in a social media context. We welcome a good mixture of innovative conceptual and methodological approaches.
The Sensorium Art Exhibit will interweave the conference proceedings and bring it to a close with a special show, alongside free drinks and nibbles.
15min presentations and artwork proposals to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please include 200 word max description and short bio including academic affiliation and relevant links to previous work and/or website profile.
DEADLINE: Tues 28th Feb 2017.
Full registration details will be made available from 27th Jan via UEL event page.
I am participating in the geography seminar series at Swansea next week. I’ll be talking about some of the ideas that came out of the work we did with social media for the Contagion project.
Mostly the talk is about how ideas about space and spatial experience are important to understanding social media. This, very broadly, appears in two ways: (1) like any technology, how we use social media performs, reflects and reveals forms of spatial understanding and experience; and (2) both the methods and the subsequent analysis we do of social media, as geographers (but also that done in other disciplinary contexts), carry assumptions about space that perhaps need to be made more explicit (especially when methodological techniques carry contradictory assumptions about space to the ideas we then employ in our analysis). This comes from a far-too-long reflection on a manuscript written for publication that had some issues and in reflecting on those issues I realised that there were some interesting geographical issues to make more explicit.
Anyway, the seminar is at 2pm on the 18th of January in Glyndwr E (see 11.1 on this campus map). Hope to see a few people there…
Here’s the abstract:
Spacing Social Media
This talk will interrogate the promise as well as the critical implications of the emerging geographies of social media. In particular, the spacing of social media will be addressed in terms of the ways we might understand and theorise space and spatiality. There will be three parts to the discussion: First, the promise of social media research is addressed through an initial exploration of how those media are ineluctably entangled in changes within social, economic and political fields. Second, the translations of data in social media research are addressed through the applications and techniques involved. Third, this provides a basis for subsequent discussion of the theoretical implications of digital data methods and their spacings. I will argue that the techniques and discourses of social media methods both imply and challenge forms of spatial understanding that present challenges for geographical research.
I think I’ve been late to this. I saw the story about Barclaycard wanting to do “cardless” credit cards but, of course, Amazon want to vertically integrate. See the first video below. Interesting that this is incredibly similar to previous ‘envisionings’ of “the future” of retail/shopping. The first thing I thought was: ‘hang on, this is Microsoft circa 2004’, see the second video below… and I’m sure there’s been others, not least from the likes of HP Labs… I wonder where patents lie on this stuff, cos that will be a big bargaining chip.
This is interesting though insofar as, when I was writing about the Microsoft Office Labs videos in 2008/9, the ‘future’ they figured was always positioned at some distance, it was certainly not explicitly stated that this is something you should definitely expect to happen, more a kind of ‘mood music’ to capture some sensibilities of a possible future, by representing it and hooking ideas into our general imagination of technology and society. It certainly plays on the trope of the normalisation of heavy surveillance… what else can such a system be?
The Amazon Go video is an interesting confluence of lots of contemporary trends in attempts to refigure how we imagine digital technology. Implicit in the video is a normalisation of yet-more automation (of payment, of trust). Explicit here, as already mentioned, is that these kinds of places are not ‘private’ in any way – the system “knows” you, will know your habits, manages your money and that’s ok, in fact – it’s apparently preferable (trust, again).
Amazon seem to be fairly aggressively pushing this, taking the smooth apparently effortless aesthetics of many tech design fiction videos and using this as a means to capture the idea that such technology = Amazon. Apparently there is a “beta” shop in Seattle (where else?). No doubt someone will already be writing a journal article about this as code/space and, of course it is (and just as Kitchin & Dodge suggest about airports – I wouldn’t want to be in this shop when the servers go down), but I think the thing I find more interesting is that it seems to me that this is perhaps an overtly political manoeuvre to capture the public story about what ‘currency’ is and how payment works when we take for granted higher levels of automation, through what kinds of institution and who we can trust. This is quite a different story to the blockchain, Amazon seem to be saying “let us handle the trust issue” – a pitch usually made by a bank, or PayPal… That might be interesting to think about (I’m sure people, like Rachel O’Dwyer, already are), not least in relation to other ways ‘trust’ is being addressed (and attempts are being made to refigure it) by other companies, institutions and groups.
All this means I’ll definitely be re-writing my lecture about money for the next iteration of my “Geographies of Technology” module next term…
Via Michael Sacasas
Yesterday, I caught Derek Thompson of The Atlantic discussing the problem of “fake news” on NPR’s Here and Now. It was all very sensible, of course. Thompson impressed upon the audience the importance of media literacy. He urged listeners to examine the provenance of the information they encounter. He also cited an article that appeared in […]