Carnival of Algorithmic Culture: Academic Goats

Carnival of Algorithmic Culture: Academic Goats

As part of our Carnival of Algorithmic Culture, we hosted a day of talks, workshops, and conversations at Artscape Daniels Launchpad on June 23, 2023 from 10 am to 1530 pm before we headed over to our bodyshop studios location for an evening of installations and performances.

The pace of change for artificial intelligence is breathtaking. What opportunities might be missed in the rush? What implications are under-represented in the too-often polarized debate that dominates online?

Around 65 folks joined us from 1000 to 1530 on the Toronto Waterfront for the brilliant and the strange sides of AI in advance of performances and installations at our second site on Geary in the evening and on Saturday.

Talk: Maurice Jones | Earthly Community

The inherent entanglement of technological advancements and ecological devastation is at the heart of the current existential crisis humanity is facing. Technology destroys the very ecology it is constituted of, while at the same time techno-solutionism is propagated as the cure for this self-generated crisis. To address this most fundamental of issues African philosopher Achille Mbembe calls for re-envisioning our more-than-human relations as an Earthly Community, which views humans and non-humans including nature and technology as co-inhabitants bound not by universality but by what they have in-common. How can we renew our relationship then to the very biological and geological land we are made of, if more than 75% of the world's population lives in big cities? How can we welcome technology amidst us in cohabitation if it is raised towards a god-like status of techno-solutionism? Most importantly, how do we bridge between biological, geological, technological, and human life, when centuries of scientific knowledge making in the West tried to neatly separate nature and culture?

Workshop A: Luisa Ji | Intelligent Terrain

A collective exploration of cognitive technology’s relationship to land and imagined approaches that bring us into a closer relationship with our environment while working toward the preservation of our world for future generations.

Workshop B: Michael F. Bergmann | Envisioning Creation with Non-Human Collaborators: Lessons from Living with Animals

As the technological landscape rapidly evolves and the role of AI and non-human collaborators in art production increases, the need to re-imagine live performance becomes ever more pressing. This workshop explores a forward-looking template for the future of performance, emphasizing collaboration with non-human entities and drawing on emerging research in animal consciousness and ethics.

Talk: Albertine Thunier | Uncanny Alliances with Artificial Lives

Folk tales are not a new phenomenon. However, with the rise of digital culture and the increasing integration of machines into our daily lives, anxieties about the world around us are taking on a new form. In 1853, Charles Nodier, a French novelist, offered that marionettes are the only authentic tradition of the ancient democracies. This provocation aligned with the century old carnivalesque tradition of imagining that the puppets and their masters’ roles could be reversed. Indeed, the suspicion about the potential revolts of the artificial lives is all over pop culture. This fear is reflected in popular culture through movies like The Terminator and The Matrix, where machines become the dominant force and humans are forced to fight for their survival. But what is it about these stories that resonates with us so deeply? Is it simply a fear of the unknown or is there something deeper at play? Perhaps it reflects our own anxieties about our place in the world and our relationship with technology. As we continue to develop more advanced machines and artificial intelligence, it is important to consider the potential consequences. While we may not be facing an imminent robot uprising, we must be mindful of how these technologies are changing our society and what impact they may have on our future. In this talk, Albertine explores anxiety surrounding artificial lives and intelligence by putting together examples from industrial revolution and our current context. Albertine also questions what a radical alliance between digital workers and artificial intelligence could look like.

Workshop A: Willem Deisinger | Inversion and Reversal in Large Language Models

In this workshop, Willem Deisinger shares approaches to creating and customizing large language models that reflect specific or desired ways of knowing the world. What happens when a bot is trained exclusively on the works of Rabelais and then is put in charge of a city-scale role-playing game? What emerges when a model is trained on the hopes and fears of people present in a particular place during a constrained 90-minute period? No coding experience necessary for this walk through of approaches and possibilities.

Workshop B: Kadrah Mensah | Copy That: The Emergence of Artifax

As artificial intelligence continues to harvest our cultural artifacts for peak optimization, is it time to rethink how we commodify our digital contributions? What can appropriation in conceptual art; the rise of hip-hop through sampling; and the stitching, remixing and memeing that shape our digital social lives reveal to us about our inherent desire for a more collaborative society? Mensah questions whether this pivotal moment can unlock a future where our creative potential is not limited by our individual capabilities, but instead enriched by our collective knowledge. Are we willing to transcend conventional boundaries to usher in a new era?

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