Museum of Contemporary Commodities – Exhibition Rd, Kensington 24-27 Aug.

Next week, in advance of the RGS-IBG annual conference, the Museum of Contemporary Commodities (MoCC) will join the other museums in South Kensington on Exhibition Rd. MoCC is the brainchild of artist-activist-researcher Paula Crutchlow and promises to build on the provocative and inspiring work undertaken as part of the project over the last three years. I strongly encourage anyone in London next week to pop into the Royal Geographical Society to take a look.

I’m very privileged to be on Paula’s PhD committee. This is fantastic work – even if you cannot make it to Exhibition Rd, please do look at the MoCC website.

Museum of Contemporary Commodities: valuing what we buy today as the heritage of tomorrow

Museum of Contemporary Commodities at the Royal Geographical Society, London.The Museum of Contemporary Commodities (MoCC) is an art-geography research and exhibition project investigating the deep links between data, trade, place and values that shape our everyday lives. This lively set of digital activities will be hosted in the Pavilion at RGS-IBG. Staffed by our friendly MoCC Invigilators, you will be able to browse the most valued exhibits, take our quiz, add something to the museum yourself and consult with the updated Mikayla 3.0 – our networked talking doll guide to all things MoCC. Two research and conversation events will also contribute to our continuing public conversations around the deep connections between data, trade, place and values.

All the events are free to attend. All are welcome. Please join us to re-value contemporary commodity culture one thing at time!

Exhibition open: Thursday 24 August-Sunday 27 August 2017, 10.00am-4.00pm

Additional events on Friday 25 August:

Data walkshop with data activist Alison Powell, LSE: 10.00am-12.30pm
Building on MoCC walkshops in Finsbury Park and Exeter, Alison will be investigating data mediations in the direct vicinity of the RGS-IBG through a process of rapid group ethnography. No experience necessary. Please book here.

Our Future Heritage: curating contemporary commodity cultures: 2.00pm-4.00pm
A public conversation event hosted in the Museum of Contemporary Commodities shop-gallery space at the RGS-IBG. With contributions from: MoCC co-founders Paula Crutchlow and Ian Cook, Senior Curator V&A Corrinna Gardner, Cultural Geographer Merle Patchett, Music Sociologist Lee Marshall, and researcher, publisher and curator D-M Withers. Please book here.

MoCC was co-founded by artist-researcher Paula Crutchlow from Blind Ditch and Geographer Ian Cook from followthethings.com and University of Exeter. The project is being developed in partnership with Furtherfieldand a growing number of artists, academics, technologists and members of the public.

Our early prototypes and events have been kindly supported by All Change Arts, Islington Turkish, Kurdish and Cypriot Women’s Group, Islington Council, Exeter City Council, Art Week Exeter, Exeter Scrapstore, Exeter Phoenix, Exeter CVS, St Sidwells Community Centre, Exeter Library, Art Week Exeter. With many thanks to the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) for their support with this 2017 exhibition. MoCC is funded by Arts Council England, University of Exeter and the Economic and Social Science Research Council.

To find out more, please visit http://www.moccguide.net/ or follow MoCC on Twitter at @moccofficial and on Instagram at @moccguidemikayla

Hyperland

glitches image of a 1990s NASA VR experience

A bit of nostalgia… ‘practising tomorrows‘ and all that.

Lots of things to crit with the benefit of hindsight, which I’m sure some folks did – I mean, the peculiar sort of aesthetic policing implied is funny and the fact that none of the folk used as talking heads can imagine a collaborative form of authorship is quite interesting. This programme came out in 1990, around the same time Berners Lee is pioneering the web – a rather different, perhaps more “interactive” vision of ‘multimedia’ – insofar as with the web we can all contribute to the creation as well as consumption of media [he writes in the dialog box of the “Add New Post” page of the WordPress interface]…

A slightly geeky thing I appreciate though is the very clear visual reference to the 1987 Apple Computer ‘video prototype’ called ‘Knowledge Navigator‘ (<–follow the link, third video down, see also), which I’m certain is deliberate.

“Invisible Images: Ethics of Autonomous Vision Systems” Trevor Paglen at “AI Now” (video)

racist facial recognition

Via Data & Society / AI Now.

Trevor Paglen on ‘autonomous hypernormal mega-meta-realism’ (probably a nod to Curtis there). An entertaining brief talk about ‘AI’ visual recognition systems and their aesthetics.

(I don’t normally hold with laughing at your own gags but Paglen says some interesting things here – expanded upon in this piece (‘Invisible Images: Your pictures are looking at you’) and this artwork – Sight Machines [see below]).

19 ‘AI’-related links

Twiki the robot from Buck Rogers

Here’s some links from various sources on what “AI” may or may not mean and what sorts of questions that prompts… If I was productive, not sleep-deprived (if… if… etc. etc.) I’d write something about this, but instead I’m just posting links.

Reblog> So what about Politics?–Call for contributions (iMAL Brussels, Nov. 3/4, 2017)

south african students protest with hashtag banners

From INC.

So what about Politics?–Call for contributions (iMAL Brussels, Nov. 3/4, 2017)

“If the past 10 years have been about discovering post-institutional social models on the Web, then the next 10 years will be about applying them to the real world.” Chris Anderson, 2010, www.wired.com)

So, what about politics? (November 3/4 2017 @  iMAL, Brussels)  looks at initiatives that could be seen as the avant-garde of a new political era. In a critical period of crisis in our political systems, we welcome artists, activists, academics, and everyone using innovative technological tools to reclaim political processes or to shape new forms of organisation, from local collectives to global movements.

As  Rebecca Solnit says, “It’s equally true that democracy is flourishing in bold new ways in grassroots movements globally”, and “There is far more politics than the mainstream of elections and governments, more in the margins where hope is most at home.” How does this apply to the margins of our technological imagination? Which tools and practices are being dreamed of, tested and explored?

What is the impact of today’s Internet-inspired post-institutional thinking on the practice of political action? For this we focus on tactics, tools and visions of grassroots initiatives, as well as on changing government policies and strategies.

iMAL wants to invite its guests to look beyond the often-perceived neutrality of technology and unveil underlying narratives. The symposium revolves around questions such as: What are the politics of a P2P society? How can we perceive a network as a real “distributed agora”? What can we learn from artist- or activist-led experiments focusing on collectivity and political agency? And most important: What are the concrete tools and initiatives today that really try to facilitate and use new forms of agency such as liquid democracy, e-governance, civic intelligence, platform cooperativism and autonomous self-organisation?

OPEN CALL: Digital culture and technology. But what about politics?

This is an open call for contributions by artists, activists, technologists, designers, researchers, citizen initiatives, collectives or groups to the symposium ‘So, what about politics?’. The event will be held on November 3-4, 2017 in Brussels at iMAL, the Brussels-based center for digital cultures and technology.

Send your proposal to SoWhatAboutPolitics@imal.org
Deadline: September 1st, 2017

This Open Call is not restricted to specific kinds of contributions. You can send us proposals for a lecture, workshop, performance, installation… Day 1 of the symposium will be focusing on lectures and presentations. Day 2 is reserved for participatory activities such as Open Assembly Lab or Workshops.Proposals will be selected according to their relevance and feasibility (logistics, budget).

The symposium is curated by Bram Crevits in collaboration with Yves Bernard (iMAL.org). This event is organised by iMAL (Brussels center for Digital Cultures and Technology) in collaboration with the Institute of Network Cultures (Amsterdam), Medialab Prado (Madrid) and KASK/School of Arts (Ghent).

After the symposium Blockchain.Fact.Fiction.Future in 2016, So what about Politics? continues our exploration of how society can be improved with the digital world. So what about Politics? is supported by Saison des Cultures Numériques 2017, Ministery of Culture (Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles).

Reblog> Call for blog post contributions: Help celebrate 25 years of Gender, Place and Culture

From the Gender, Place and Culture blog:

In 2018, Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and we’d like to mark the occasion by hearing from those of you who have an interest in all things feminist geography! We are therefore looking for expressions of interest to contribute blog posts to our website!We seek 25 blogs for 25 years. The posts will be released approximately twice a month throughout 2018. And, if we receive more than 25 blogs, we’ll post them more frequently! As well as being shared via our Facebook and Twitter feed (please share with anyone who you think might be interested!) using our special #GPC25 hashtag, the blogs will also be featured on this site and a new GPC@25 website that is currently under construction.

What we need now

All we need at this stage is: 1) title/subject and 2) a short statement of a sentence or two outlining the broad topic. We will decide on the release date of the blogs nearer the time. So at this stage you are only committing yourself to delivering a 750-word blog/essay in principle.

What should I write about?

You may already have a great idea but as a guide, the theme is “Feminist Geographies at 25”. Blogs might reflect on the following ideas, but do not need to be limited to them:

  • Key interventions made by feminist geographers;
  • Histories of feminist geography;
  • Doing feminist geographies;
  • Key themes or issues;
  • Feminist geographers that have inspired your work;
  • Impact of the journal in your work;
  • Calls to action;
  • Why you wanted to be published in Gender, Place and Culture; and

Comments on current events are also appropriate, especially when related to aspects of feminist geography.

Who can write for the site?

We welcome submissions from geographers of all career stages – researchers, scholars, master’s and doctoral students, post-docs, undergraduate students, and community activists. We would especially like to encourage doctoral students and early career researchers to contribute.

Where do I submit my idea and my blog?

Submission ideas should be sent to our dedicated GPC@25 website email address (GPCat25 @ gmail.com) by 31st August 2017. These will ideally be posted in the first half of 2018. A second submission date will be set later. Blog ideas will be vetted and selected that reflect the broad interests of feminist geographers. Once your post has been selected, Anna Tarrant the social media coordinator for Gender, Place and Culture, will get in touch with you to provide an approximate timeline for delivering the blog. We would expect that most contributions be sent to us in the space of 2-3 weeks.

If you have any questions, please ask. Ideas do not need to be fully formed at this stage and we are happy to provide further guidance/advice if necessary.

‘Automated’ sweated labour

Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times

This piece by Sonia Sodha (Worry less about robots and more about sweatshops) in the Grauniad, which accompanies an episode of the Radio 4 programme Analysis (Who Speaks for the Workers?), is well worth checking out. It makes a case that seems to be increasing in consensus – that ‘automation’ in particular parts of industry will not mean ‘robots’ but pushing workers to become more ‘robotic’. This is an interesting foil to the ‘automated luxury communism’ schtick and the wider imaginings of automation. If you stop to think about wider and longer term trends in labour practices, it also feels depressingly possible…

This is the underbelly of our labour market: illegal exploitation, plain and simple. But there are other legal means employers can use to sweat their labour. In a sector such as logistics, smart technology is not being used to replace workers altogether, but to make them increasingly resemble robots. Parcel delivery and warehouse workers find themselves directed along exact routes in the name of efficiency. Wrist-based devices allow bosses to track their every move, right down to how long they take for lavatory breaks and the speed with which they move a particular piece of stock in a warehouse or from the delivery van to someone’s front door.

This hints at a chilling future: not one where robots have replaced us altogether, but where algorithms have completely eroded worker autonomy, undermining the dignity of work and the sense of pride that people can take in a job well done.

This fits well with complementary arguments about ‘heteromation‘ and other more nuanced understandings of what’s followed or extended what we used to call ‘post-Fordism’…

The “Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund” commits $7.6M to research “AI for the public interest”

A press release from the Knight Foundation and another from Omidyar Network highlight their joint effort with several other funders to commit $7.6M to be distributed across several international institutions to research “AI for the public interest”. This seems like an ambitious and interesting research programme, albeit located in the elite institutions one might unfortunately expect to hoover up this sort of funding… Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what comes of this.

Here’s some snippets (see the full Knight Foundation PR here and the Omidyar PR here).

…a $27 million fund to apply the humanities, the social sciences and other disciplines to the development of AI.

The MIT Media Lab and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University will serve as founding academic institutions for the initiative, which will be named the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund. The fund will support a cross-section of AI ethics and governance projects and activities, both in the United States and internationally.

The fund seeks to advance AI in the public interest by including the broadest set of voices in discussions and projects addressing the human impacts of AI. Among the issues the fund might address:

  • Communicating complexity: How do we best communicate, through words and processes, the nuances of a complex field like AI?
  • Ethical design: How do we build and design technologies that consider ethical frameworks and moral values as central features of technological innovation?
  • Advancing accountable and fair AI: What kinds of controls do we need to minimize AI’s potential harm to society and maximize its benefits?
  • Innovation in the public interest: How do we maintain the ability of engineers and entrepreneurs to innovate, create and profit, while ensuring that society is informed and that the work integrates public interest perspectives?
  • Expanding the table: How do we grow the field to ensure that a range of constituencies are involved with building the tools and analyzing social impact?

Supporting a Global Conversation

  • Digital Asia Hub (Hong Kong): Digital Asia Hub will investigate and shape the response to important, emerging questions regarding the safe and ethical use of artificial intelligence to promote social good in Asia and contribute to building the fund’s presence in the region. Efforts will include workshops and case studies that will explore the cultural, economic and political forces uniquely influencing the development of the technology in Asia.
  • ITS Rio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil): ITS Rio will translate international debates on artificial intelligence and launch a series of projects addressing how artificial intelligence is being developed in Brazil and in Latin America more generally. On behalf of the Global Network of Internet and Society Research Center, ITS Rio and the Berkman Klein Center will also co-host a symposium on artificial intelligence and inclusion in Rio de Janeiro, bringing together almost 80 centers and an international set of participants to address diversity in technologies driven by artificial intelligence, and the opportunities and challenges posed by it around the world.

Tackling Concrete Challenges

  • AI Now (New York): AI Now will undertake interdisciplinary, empirical research examining the integration of artificial intelligence into existing critical infrastructures, looking specifically at bias, data collection, and healthcare.
  • Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (Cambridge, United Kingdom): Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence will be focused on bringing together technical and legal perspectives to address interpretability, a topic made urgent by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation coming into force next year.
  • Access Now (Brussels, Belgium): Access Now will contribute to the rollout of the General Data Protection Regulation by working closely with data protection authorities to develop practical guidelines that protect user rights, and educate public and private authorities about rights relating to explainability. The organization will also conduct case studies on data protection issues relating to algorithms and artificial intelligence in France and Hungary.

Bolstering Interdisciplinary Work 

  • FAT ML (Global): FAT ML will host a researcher conference focused on developing concrete, technical approaches to securing values of fairness, accountability, and transparency in machine learning.
  • Data & Society (New York): Data & Society will conduct a series of ethnographically-informed studies of intelligent systems in which human labor plays an integral part, and will explore how and why the constitutive human elements of artificial intelligence are often obscured or rendered invisible. The research will produce empirical work examining these dynamics in order to facilitate the creation of effective regulation and ethical design considerations across domains.

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About the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund 

The Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund aims to support work around the world that advances the development of ethical artificial intelligence in the public interest, with an emphasis on applied research and education. The fund was launched in January 2017, with an initial investment of $27 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Omidyar Network, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, the Hewlett Foundation, and Jim Pallotta. The activities supported through the fund aim to address the global challenges of artificial intelligence from a multidisciplinary perspective—grounded in data, code, and academic analysis. The fund will advance the public understanding of artificial intelligence and support the creation of networks that span disciplines and topics related to artificial intelligence. The Miami Foundation is serving as fiscal sponsor for the fund.

Via Alexis Madrigral.