Call for papers: Geography of/with A.I

Still from the video for All is Love by Bjork

I very much welcome any submissions to this call for papers for the proposed session for the RGS-IBG annual conference (in London in late-August) outlined below. I also welcome anyone getting in touch to talk about possible papers or ideas for other sorts of interventions – please do get in touch.

Call for papers:

We are variously being invited to believe that (mostly Global North, Western) societies are in the cusp, or early stages, of another industrial revolution led by “Artificial Intelligence” – as many popular books (e.g. Brynjolfsson and McAfee 2014) and reports from governments and management consultancies alike will attest (e.g. PWC 2018, UK POST 2016). The goal of this session is to bring together a discussion explicitly focusing on the ways in which geographers already study (with) ‘Artificial Intelligence’ and to, perhaps, outline ways in which we might contribute to wider debates concerning ‘AI’. 

There is widespread, inter-disciplinary analysis of ‘AI’ from a variety of perspective, from embedded systematic bias (Eubanks 2017, Noble 2018) to the kinds of under-examined rationales and work through which such systems emerge (e.g. Adam 1998, Collins 1993) and further to the sorts of ethical-moral frameworks that we should apply to such technologies (Gunkel 2012, Vallor 2016). In similar, if somewhat divergent ways, geographers have variously been interested in the kinds of (apparently) autonomous algorithms or sociotechnical systems are integrated into decision-making processes (e.g. Amoore 2013, Kwan 2016); encounters with apparently autonomous ‘bots’ (e.g. Cockayne et al. 2017); the integration of AI techniques into spatial analysis (e.g. Openshaw & Openshaw 1997); and the processing of ‘big’ data in order to discern things about, or control, people (e.g. Leszczynski 2015). These conversations appear, in conference proceedings and academic outputs, to rarely converge, nevertheless there are many ways in which geographical research does and can continue to contribute to these contemporary concerns.

The invitation of this session is to contribute papers that make explicit the ways in which geographers are (already) contributing to research on and with ‘AI’, to identify research questions that are (perhaps) uniquely geographical in relation to AI, and to thereby advance wider inter-disciplinary debates concerning ‘AI’.

Examples of topics might include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • A.I and governance
  • A.I and intimacy
  • Artificially intelligent mobilities
  • Autonomy, agency and the ethics of A.I
  • Autonomous weapons systems
  • Boosterism and ‘A.I’
  • Feminist and intersectional interventions in/with A.I
  • Gender, race and A.I
  • Labour, work and A.I
  • Machine learning and cognitive work
  • Playful A.I
  • Science fiction, spatial imaginations and A.I
  • Surveillance and A.I

Please send submissions (titles, abstracts (250 words) and author details) to: Sam Kinsley by 31st January 2019.

HKW Speaking to Racial Conditions Today [video]

racist facial recognition

This video of a panel session at HKW entitled “Speaking to Racial Conditions Today” is well-worth watching.

Follow this link (the video is not available for embedding here).

Inputs, discussions, Mar 15, 2018. With Zimitri Erasmus, Maya Indira Ganesh, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, David Theo Goldberg, Serhat Karakayali, Shahram Khosravi, Françoise Vergès
English original version

CFP > Critically Queer – 20/21 Sept. Bristol.

Queer Activists in South Africa

Saw this CFP via twitter. Looks like an interesting conference… may be of interest, see tweet below. More information about the working group organising the conference is on their website.

Event > Data Feminism with Lauren Klein (at KCL)

Melba Roy

This event looks really interesting!

Via Pip Thornton.

Data Feminism

Lauren Klein, Assistant Professor, Georgia Tech

How might we draw on feminist critical thought to reimagine data practices and data work? Join us for a public talk with Lauren Klein (Assistant Professor, Georgia Tech) to discuss her recent work on data feminism. Hosted by Jonathan Gray at the Department for Digital Humanities at King’s College London.

With their ability to depict hundreds, thousands, and sometimes even millions of relationships at a single glance, visualizations of data can dazzle, inform, and persuade. It is precisely this power that makes it worth asking: “Visualization by whom? For whom? In whose interest? Informed by whose values?” These are some of the questions that emerge from what we call data feminism, a way of thinking about data and its visualization that is informed by the past several decades of feminist critical thought. Data feminism prompts questions about how, for instance, challenges to the male/female binary can also help challenge other binary and hierarchical classification systems. It encourages us to ask how the concept of invisible labor can help to expose the invisible forms of labor associated with data work. And it points to how an understanding of affective and embodied knowledge can help to expand the notion of what constitutes data and what does not. Using visualization as a starting point, this talk works backwards through the data-processing pipeline in order to show how a feminist approach to thinking about data not only exposes how power and privilege presently operate in visualization work, but also suggests how different design principles can help to mitigate inequality and work towards justice.

Lauren Klein is an assistant professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech, where she also directs the Digital Humanities Lab. With Matthew Gold, she editsDebates in the Digital Humanities (University of Minnesota Press), a hybrid print/digital publication stream that explores debates in the field as they emerge. Her literary monograph,Matters of Taste: Eating, Aesthetics, and the Early American Archive, is forthcoming from Minnesota in Spring 2019. She is also at work on two new projects: Data Feminism, co-authored with Catherine D’Ignazio, and under contract with MIT Press, which distills key lessons from feminist theory into a set of principles for the design and interpretation of data visualizations, and Data by Design, which provides an interactive history of data visualization from the eighteenth century to the present.

Reblog> Good Data: Call for Proposals for Theory on Demand edited book

My Cayla Doll

From the Institute of Network Cultures:

Good Data: Call for Proposals for an INC Theory on Demand edited book

Editors: Angela Daly (Queensland University of Technology), Kate Devitt (Queensland University of Technology) & Monique Mann (Queensland University of Technology).

In recent years, there has been an exponential increase in the collection, aggregation and automated analysis of information by government and private actors, and in response to this there has been a significant critique regarding what could be termed ‘bad’ data practices in the globalised digital economy. These include the mass gathering of data about individuals, in opaque, unethical and at times illegal ways, and the increased use of that data in unaccountable and potentially discriminatory forms of algorithmic decision-making by both state agencies and private companies. Issues of data ethics and data justice are only likely to increase in importance given the totalizing datafication of society and the introduction of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation.

In order to paint an alternative, more optimistic but still pragmatic picture of the datafied future, this open access edited collection will examine and propose what could be termed ‘good’ and ‘ethical’ data practices, underpinned by values and principles such as (but not limited to):

  • privacy/regulation/information security by design
  • due process rights
  • procedural legitimacy
  • the protection of individual and collective autonomy
  • digital sovereignty
  • digital anti-discrimination
  • data and intersectionality
  • ethical labour practices
  • environmental sustainability.

Chapters should be short contributions (2500-5000 words) which can take differing forms, for example:

  • Manifestos for Good Data
  • Position papers
  • Traditional academic chapters

Chapters can be theoretical takes or provocations on what Good Data is or should be, or can be case studies of particular Good Data projects and initiatives e.g. Indigenous data sovereignty initiatives, data cooperatives etc. Chapters can also be critiques of initiatives/movements which claim to be ethical but in fact fall short. All chapters, including academic ones, should be written in an accessible way and avoid the excessive use of jargon, etc. Academic chapters will be peer-reviewed. Other contributions will be editor-reviewed.

We encourage contributions from throughout the world and from different disciplinary perspectives: philosophy, media and communications, cultural studies, STS, law, criminology, information systems, computer science etc.

Proposals for chapters (up to 250 words) should be sent to Kayleigh Hodgkinson Murphy (kayleigh.murphy@qut.edu.au) by Friday 15 December 2017. Please include a brief biography (academic/practitioner) and signal what kind of chapter you are proposing (manifesto/academic chapter, etc).

If you have an idea for a chapter and want to discuss it before submitting a proposal, please contact Angela Daly (angela.daly@qut.edu.au) as soon as possible. We may be able to pair, for example, practitioners with academic authors on request.

Decisions on proposals will be made by mid-January 2017, with a first full draft of chapters to be submitted by 31 March 2018. We anticipate the book will be finalized and launched in late 2018, as part of the Institute of Network Cultures’ Theory on Demand series.

A Future for Intersectional Black Feminist Technology Studies – @safiyanoble

United Nations "women shouldn't..." advert concerning equality

This article is well worth a read, I’ve copied a bit below – but go over to the S&F website to read the whole thing. Safiya Noble has a new book coming out: Algorithms of Oppression – looks good.

A Future for Intersectional Black Feminist Technology Studies

by Safiya Umoja Noble

The most general statement of our politics at the present time would be that we are actively committed to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression and see as our particular task the development of integrated analysis and practice based on the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking.
–Combahee River Collective, 1986[1]

When we are able to end hyper-criminalization and sexualization of Black people and end the poverty, control, and surveillance of Black people, every single person in this world has a better shot at getting and staying free. When Black people get free, everybody gets free. This is why we call on Black people and our allies to take up the call that Black lives matter. We’re not saying Black lives are more important than other lives, or that other lives are not criminalized and oppressed in various ways. We remain in active solidarity with all oppressed people who are fighting for their liberation and we know that our destinies are intertwined.
–Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, 2014[2]

Introduction

Neoliberal narratives of digital technologies and the internet have flourished in information and internet studies and suggest that the web is a panacea of social liberation and empowerment. These ideas have been refuted with much evidence by critical theorists in the field, yet work remains to be done in shifting the complex, global patterns of capital that build the material infrastructures of the information and communications revolution at the expense of Black life diasporically.

Meanwhile, in other academic and political arenas, the struggle to recognize multiple, interlocking systems of oppression has been ongoing for roughly 40 years. Brittney Cooper has already offered a detailed analysis of intersectional theory,[3] tracing the emergence of the term “intersectionality”[4] and its problematics and possibilities. Yet the term remains highly pertinent to the field of information and communication studies, which has not sufficiently responded to nor benefitted from intersectional lenses such as Black queer feminist intervention. Indeed, systems of interlocking oppression have rarely been a framework of analysis in the field of internet studies, overlooked in favor of dominant and frequently technologically deterministic perspectives that ignore interlocking, structural, and globalized sites of oppression.

What is potent about Black feminism is its focus on the liberation of Black women globally, intentionally linking Black women in the West with Black women in the Third World, and making interdependent experiences shaped by race, gender, patriarchy, capitalism, and imperialism a driving imperative for liberation movements to end oppression. This through line–from the pan-Africanist movement of the early twentieth century, to the Combahee River Collective–powerfully resurfaced in the 2014 statement by the three Black and queer women who founded the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It is this lens that I wish to invoke in theorizing whether a liberatory, intersectional internet is even plausible, when contextualized in a Black feminist tradition.

In doing so, I explore the ways that the internet and its infrastructure are central to the myriad oppressive conditions facing Black life in the US and in the African diaspora. The goal of theorizing a liberatory, intersectional internet is to heighten awareness of how the global communications infrastructure is not just a site of communications affordance, nor is it made equally and equitably available to all people. On the contrary, it is implicated in a number of environmental and oppressive conditions for Black life. By making these connections more visible, my hope is to shift discourses away from simple arguments about the liberatory possibilities of the internet toward more critical engagements with how the internet is a site of power and control over Black life–a perspective relevant to scholars working in Black Studies, gender studies, and information studies.

Intersectionality was developed by many feminist, antiracist scholars and activists of color as a framework for deepening an analysis of power and oppression across multiple axes.[5] Intersectionality, however, has been woefully under-engaged as a way of thinking about the political economy of the internet and has, in fact, been separated from its Black feminist roots. To echo the critiques that Black women have levied at feminist movements over time, the pervasive under-commitment to the concerns of Black women as we intersect with, and are intersected by, technologies exemplifies a broader unwillingness among those promulgating mainstream discourses to engage with notions of racism, class, and sexuality in the fields of computer science, digital media studies, information, and technology studies.

We need more interdisciplinary research and theorizing about how a range of digital technologies are embedded with intersectional and uneven power relations, from the ways in which technologies are structured, through the range of engagements that happen on the web, to the materiality of digital communications infrastructures that include the role of the state and capital in the extraction, manufacture, and disposal of the digital.