Revisions: Decoding Technological Bias

 

Join City Lights, the Goethe-Institut San Francisco, and Gray Area for Revisions, a three-day festival exploring how technological bias shapes our cultural realities.

Our trust in mediated experiences has never been lower. Governed by algorithms that perpetuate the biases and weaknesses of their developers, our cultural consumption is increasingly shaped by undetectable forces that determine our reality. Images play an important role here: fake photos and videos created with deep neural networks threaten privacy, democracy, and national security. Vision recognition systems skew gender, race, and class differences and become vehicles of discrimination. Underdeveloped AI models misrepresent the health disparities faced by minority populations.

How can we illuminate the algorithmic bias embedded within technology and counter the perpetuation of bias? What innovative approaches can we develop to strengthen inclusion, diversity, and sustainability in technology?

This festival brings a network of luminaries together to share new perspectives and rewrite new visions advocating for justice and reclaiming power.

The festival is part of the project IMAGE & BIAS that critically engages with the cultural realities being increasingly determined by imperceptible technologies.

Schedule

Program

Against Technosolutionism! Why We Can't Regulate Our Way Out Of This Mess


Jillian York
June 10 2021, 12pm PT / 3pm ET

The same radical technologies that helped give rise the social and political movements of 2010-12 later enabled a rise in disinformation, propaganda, and the promotion of other harms. Today, our societies are grappling to find solutions, but looking in all the wrong places.


Jillian C. York is International Activism Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF. She is also a founding member of the feminist collective, Deep Lab. She has been covering questions of  surveillance and freedom since the 2000s. She was named by Foreign Policy as one of the top 100 intellectuals on social media. She has written for the Guardian, Al Jazeera and Foreign Policy. Verso Books recently released her new book Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech under Surveillance Capitalism. She is based in Berlin.

Coding Democracy - How Hackers Are Disrupting Power, Surveillance, and Authoritarianism

Maureen Webb
June 11 2021, 12pm PT / 3pm ET

Hackers have a bad reputation, as shady deployers of bots and destroyers of infrastructure. Maureen Webb would like to offer another view. Hackers, she argues, can be vital disruptors. Hacking is becoming a practice, an ethos, and a metaphor for a new wave of activism in which ordinary citizens are inventing new forms of distributed, decentralized democracy for a digital era. Confronted with concentrations of power, mass surveillance, and authoritarianism enabled by new technology, the hacking movement is trying to “build out” democracy into cyberspace.


Maureen Webb is a human rights lawyer and activist. She has spoken extensively on post-September 11 security and human rights issues, most recently testifying before the House and Senate Committees reviewing the Canadian Anti-terrorism Act. In 2001, Webb was a Fellow at the Human Rights Institute at Columbia University in New York. A litigator for some of the first constitutional cases heard under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the landmark freedom of association case, “Lavigne, “and a case challenging the powers of Canada’s newly instituted spy agency, CSIS, she sits as co-chair of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. She is also the Coordinator for Security and Human Rights issues for Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada. She is the author of Illusions of Security: Global Surveillance and Democracy in the Post-9/11 World published by City Lights Books and has taught national security law as an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia.

Surrogate Futures: Technology, Race, and the Human

Kalindi Vora and Neda Atanasoski
June 11 2021, 3pm PT / 6pm ET

In this talk, Kalindi Vora and Neda Atanasoski consider how the surrogate effect of technology within technoliberalism, as they describe it in their book, Surrogate Humanity: Race, Robots and the Politics of Technological Futures (2019), comes to bear on recent discussions around technological bias. Assessing how technological design is central to envisioning and shaping different potential futures, they emphasize the importance of thinking beyond bias if we are to understand how racial capitalism undergirds technological design. They also explore radical design politics that disrupt more mainstream uses and visions of technological value.


Neda Atanasoski is Professor of Feminist Studies and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and author of Humanitarian Violence: The U.S. Deployment of Diversity.

Kalindi Vora is Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at the University of California, Davis, and author of Life Support: Biocapital and the New History of Outsourced Labor.

You Are Here: A Field Guide

Ryan Milner & Whitney Phillips
June 12 2021, 12pm PT / 3pm ET

Our media environment is in crisis. Polarization is rampant. Polluted information floods social media. Even our best efforts to help clean up can backfire, sending toxins roaring across the landscape. In You Are Here, Whitney Phillips and Ryan Milner offer strategies for navigating increasingly treacherous information flows. Using ecological metaphors, they emphasize how our individual me is entwined within a much larger we, and how everyone fits within an ever-shifting network map.


Whitney Phillips is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies at Syracuse University and the author of This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture (MIT Press).

Ryan M. Milner is Associate Professor of Communication at the College of Charleston and author of The World Made Meme: Public Conversations and Participatory Media (MIT Press).

Living in Data

Jer Thorp in conversation with Romi Ron Morrison
June 12 2021, 3pm PT

To live in data in the twenty-first century is to be incessantly extracted from, classified and categorized, statisti-fied, sold, and surveilled. Data—our data—is mined and processed for profit, power, and political gain. In Living in Data, Thorp asks a crucial question of our time: How do we stop passively inhabiting data, and instead become active citizens of it?


Jer Thorp is an artist, a writer, and a teacher. He was the first data artist in residence at The New York Times, he is a National Geographic Explorer, and he served as the innovator in residence at the Library of Congress in 2017 and 2018. He lives under the Manhattan Bridge with his family and his awesome dog, Trapper John, MD. Living in Data is his first book.

Romi Ron Morrison is a Black queer non-binary artist, researcher, and educator. Their work investigates the personal, political, ideological, and spatial boundaries of race, ethics, and social infrastructure within digital technologies. Using maps, data, sound, performance, and video, their installations center Black Feminist technologies that challenge the demands of an increasingly quantified world—reducing land into property, people into digits, and knowledge into data.

Partners

City Lights Booksellers & Publishers

City Lights Books is a landmark independent bookstore and publisher that specializes in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics.

Goethe-Institut San Francisco

The Goethe-Institut is the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany with a global reach. We promote knowledge of the German language abroad and foster international cultural cooperation. We convey a comprehensive image of Germany by providing information about cultural, social and political life in our nation. Our cultural and educational programmes encourage intercultural dialogue and enable cultural involvement. They strengthen the development of structures in civil society and foster worldwide mobility.




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