Co-Opting AI: Whiteness, Friday 2/28 @ 5pm

Institute for Public Knowledge, 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor

IPK Event Announcement

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge, NYU Tandon’s Department for Technology, Culture and Society and the 370 Jay Project invite you to a discussion on diplomacy in the series on “Co-Opting AI.” Featuring Jessie Daniels, William R. Frey, Mutale Nkonde, Natasha Stovall and Mona Sloane in conversation, this event examines the intersection of whiteness and AI technology. In what ways do social issues in AI relate to wider patterns of racial discrimination? How does white privilege affect AI design? What are the conversations we need to be having in order to advance racial literacy in tech design and policy? The panelists will come together to provide their expertise on AI, racism, psychology, sociology, and policy to consider these questions.

Jessie Daniels, PhD (she/her), is a Faculty Associate at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center and a (Full) Professor of Sociology at Hunter College, and affiliated faculty in Africana Studies, Critical Social Psychology and Sociology at The Graduate Center-CUNY. She is an internationally recognized expert on Internet manifestations of racism, and in that capacity presented her work to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland in April, 2019. For more than twenty-five years, she has studied race and racism in various forms of media. Her first book, White Lies (Routledge, 1997), explored far-right extremist groups’ printed newsletters, then she followed that with a second book, Cyber Racism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), which examined some of the same groups and how they had, or hadn’t, moved onto the popular Internet. In that research, she included interviews with young people (ages 15-19) about how they navigate what she calls “cloaked sites,” an early form of online propaganda. She is currently at work on another book that extends this work, Tweet Storm: The Rise of the Far Right, the Mainstreaming of White Supremacy, and How Tech and Media Helped.  In 2014, Contexts, the magazineof the American Sociological Association, called her a “pioneer in digital sociology.” In 2016, she co-edited (with Karen Gregory and Tressie McMillan Cottom), Digital Sociologies, which has been adopted by courses at several universities around the world. Daniels’ attention is increasingly focused on how digital media technologies are changing higher education. The way scholars produce knowledge and share it has been radically transformed in the last twenty-five years, and this has serious implications for scholars, for students, and for institutions of higher education. Daniels has co-authored two books on this topic, Being a Scholar in the Digital Era (with Polly Thisthelthwaite), and Going Public (with Arlene Stein), along with a number of articles. Since 2016, Daniels sees the changing landscape of scholarly communication converging with her other interest in the far right, as these forces launch coordinated attacks on faculty, students and staff at universities as a way of undermining the goals of higher education. Faculty and academic leaders are generally unprepared for these attacks. In 2019, Daniels launched a firm, Public Scholars, LLC, designed to help faculty who aspire to be public scholars achieve their goals and work with university administrators who want to assess and respond to attacks from the far-right against their institutions. In 2018-2019, she was a Faculty Fellow at Data & Society where, along with collaborators Mutale Nkonde and Darakhshan Mir, she developing a new approach to addressing a set of persistent problems in tech, called Advancing Racial Literacy in Tech.  This innovative approach is currently in development, and when more fully realized, has real potential for transforming the tech industry. She is also at work on two other books which are: Undoing White Womanhood, and Out to the Blue Water: A Memoir of Love, Racism & Madness.

William R. Frey [he⋮they] (@williamrfrey) is a doctoral student at Columbia University’s School of Social Work and organizer and co-facilitator of the Space for Uprooting Whiteness. His research focuses on whiteness, antiracist praxis, and intimacy. They have expertise in dialogic pedagogy and facilitation, contextual analysis of social media, and participatory models of domain expert involvement in computational mixed methods research.

Mutale Nkonde is an AI policy analyst and researcher based in New York City. She started her career as a 2018-19 fellow at Data & Society, a Research Institute in New York City and works at the intersection of race, technology, and policy. Nkonde has been working as a senior tech policy advisor for Congresswoman Yvette Clarke since 2016. She was part of the team that helped introduce the Algorithmic Accountability Act into the House of Representatives in April 2019, and is currently considering a series of data privacy proposals. She is also the founder of the Dorothy Vaughn Tech Symposium, a briefing series that takes place on Capitol Hill. Her work has been covered in MIT Tech Review, WIRED, Venture Crunch, Muse and PBS News Hour, as well as being a co-author of a report on racial literacy and tech, and she speaks widely on race, policy, and AI.

Natasha Stovall is a clinical psychologist works with adults, adolescents and children in private practice Dr. Stovall has worked extensively in the New York City and New York State psychiatric inpatient, outpatient and juvenile justice systems, and is on the board of Rainbow Heights Club, a support and advocacy program for LGTBQ+ consumers of mental health services. Her clinical and research interests include using psychology and psychoanalysis to understand white racial identity as a social and emotional process shaped by European culture, religion and politics. Previous to becoming a psychologist, Dr. Stovall was a journalist at the Village Voice and Vanity Fair. Her essays and cultural criticism have appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Spin. Her most recent essay, “Whiteness on the Couch”, appeared in Longreads in August 2019.

Mona Sloane is a sociologist working on inequality in the context of AI design and policy.  She frequently publishes and speaks about AI, ethics, equitability and policy in a global context. Mona is a Future Imagination Collaboratory (FIC) Fellow, as well as a Fellow with NYU’s Alliance for Public Interest Technology. She also holds fellowships with NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge (IPK) and The GovLab in New York. Mona teaches at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering and at IPK, she founded and convenes the ‘Co-Opting AI’ series. Mona also curates the ‘Co-Opting AI’ section on Public Books. Mona holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science and has completed fellowships at the University of California, Berkeley, and at the University of Cape Town. Follow her on Twitter @mona_sloane.

Remote Sensing, Polar Bears and Geopolitics @ A/D/O, March 10 (during our class 😢)

For more info ant to RSVP

March 10, 7-9pm (during our class!)

A/D/O Researcher-in-Residence Carolyn Kirschner presents her ongoing work, experimenting with remote sensing technologies to disrupt borders between nations and species. Part of the A/D/O Design and Research Program: At The Border.

Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact – this allows for data collection in dangerous or inaccessible areas. In the context of the current geopolitical dispute in the Arctic, where data has become the currency of sovereignty, this technology is proving particularly indispensable. Probes, sensors, and satellites are becoming synthetic species of the polar ecosystems, autonomously harvesting piles of data and meta-data to neatly delineate the unclaimed territories.

The icy landscape, however – constantly moving, melting, and reforming – proves too slippery to capture. Borders begin shifting with the geological sublayers they are tied to. Fluctuations in the magnetic field interfere with data collection. The North Pole continues wandering across the seabed. Carolyn’s surreal work enters this elusive version of the Arctic, at odds with prevailing colonial and capitalist narratives. She creates alternate sensory experiences of the territory, foregrounding gaps in the data and areas of low resolution to expand familiar realities. Using (and mis-using) remote sensing technologies, she questions mechanisms of ownership and control, makes room for non-human and non-Western perspectives, and entangles ecologies with technologies to re-imagine Arctic borders and boundaries.

About Carolyn Kirschner

Carolyn is a designer and researcher with a background in architecture. She currently holds teaching positions within the School of Design Strategies at Parsons. Her work interrogates the relationship between digital and physical space, with a focus on contemporary currents and emerging technologies that have the potential to disrupt and distort dominant systems of knowledge and power. Her research materializes as surreal artifacts, animations, images and multi-sensory installations.

Job Opportunity: Critical Designer @ AI Now Institute

Critical Designer, Data Genesis

The AI Now Institute at New York University is seeking a full-time Critical Designer to advance AI Now’s Data Genesis Program. We welcome qualified candidates from all disciplines to apply. 

Job Listing

About the Data Genesis Program 

Machine learning systems are profoundly influenced by the data they’re trained on and evaluated against. Yet there has been a lack of research into the processes of how such data is created, labeled, and used in practice. Since our first Data Genesis workshop in 2017, the AI Now Institute has been developing new approaches to study, assess and understand the connection between the data that shapes machine learning systems, and the biases and limitations such systems exhibit when applied.

What type of information is used as training data? Who generates and collects it and for what purpose? Which populations does it reflect? Who and what does it exclude? How does that affect the functioning of AI systems themselves? And how could it be improved? These are some of the questions the Data Genesis Program will address. Additional information can be found in our program announcement here

Key Responsibilities

Working closely with the program’s Principal Investigators, the Critical Designer will scope, iterate, and develop meaningful visualizations based on AI Now’s Data Genesis research. These will help communicate the nature and importance of the work to a broader audience and illuminate our findings, analyses, and methods. This work will further map and expose the ways in which training data is constructed and the implications of their use in the context of socially-deployed AI models. 

As a member of the Data Genesis program team, the Critical Designer will develop novel visual approaches to representing our research methods and outputs with an emphasis on the social and political implications of datasets, and their reach and impact across core AI systems. This work would develop modes of visual representation and communication that are capable of reaching far broader audiences beyond what academic papers, policy briefs, and reports would alone.

In this role, you will: 

  • Design and iterate on visualizations for Data Genesis research products to further serve the purpose of legibly and effectively communicating urgent issues in the social impacts of Artificial Intelligence
  • Create regular stream of high quality original digital assets to tell the story of our work
  • Contribute to AI Now’s broader research agenda and organizational programs, aligned with your interests and capacity. 
  • Help build AI Now. On a small and growing team, every member has an important role in building the systems, processes, and culture that make up our organization.

Compensation

This is a full-time two-year position, with the possibility of renewal. Annual salary is commensurate with experience. We offer a competitive benefits package through New York University, including health coverage, dental and vision plans, and retirement, as well as generous paid time off and supportive parental leave policies. Additionally, you will have access to annual professional development funds. Relocation assistance may be provided as needed.

Preferred Qualifications

Candidates should be driven to understand the social and political implications of AI and related systems and be interested in working in an interdisciplinary environment. Candidates from any academic discipline are encouraged to apply. Additionally, candidates should have:

  • At least 5 years’ relevant professional experience.
  • Formal academic background, such as a BFA in Graphic Design, Digital Media Design, Communication Design, or commensurate work experience; advanced degree a plus, Bachelor’s degree required.
  • A strong design portfolio, in line with your career stage, that demonstrates your experience making research interventions using visual methodologies.   
  • Excellent communication skills with the ability to translate technical topics into compelling narratives for a range of audiences and contexts.
  • Ability to think across disciplines and collaborate with researchers, technologists, and public audiences around understanding the implications of AI.
  • Effective time management skills to balance multiple project schedules with fast-paced deadlines.
  • Genuine commitment to building healthy teams and collaborations and to mentoring junior staff.
  • Ability to work on-site at our offices in New York City; while there may be opportunities to work remotely on occasion, this job will necessitate your being on-site.

Please submit your application via our online form here.

PhD by Design Symposium, NYU Tandon, March 13-14

Fri, Mar 13, 2020, 9:30 AM –Sat, Mar 14, 2020, 6:30 PM EDT

NYU Integrated Digital Media Program
370 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

RSVP on Eventbrite

The PhD by Design Symposium is an opportunity for doctoral students pursuing creative practice-driven research to meet and share their work.

About this Event

The PhD by Design symposia invite both PhD candidates at various stages of their course of studies or research as well as faculty advising PhD students and running PhD programs, to come together to share their work, and explore and discuss the many aspects of what it means to do a practice- based PhD.

We are pleased to announce that the next North American PhD by Design symposium will be hosted at NYU’s Brooklyn Campus, within the Dept. of Technology, Culture & Society, on Friday and Saturday the 13th and 14th of March. This two-day event aims to give PhD candidates working through creative practice in art and design, a platform to share their research and ideas, explore issues of common concern, and discuss how their work is helping shape the present and future discourses of creative practice, scholarship, and pedagogy.

As part of this year’s symposium, we will also be having two plenary speakers give talks on the first and second day of the conference: Dr. Shannon Mattern, Full Professor at The New School, and Dr. Jonathan Chapman, Full Professor and Director of the PhD program at Carnegie Mellon University.

We invite PhD candidates at any point in their studies to register for the conference or for critiques, discussion sessions or workshops, as well as faculty interested in participating in the symposium.

Databite No. 129: “Abolish Big Data” with Yeshimabeit Milner, March 4

03.04.20 – 5:00 pm
Data & Society, New York, NY

More info here

Big Data is more than a collection of technologies or a revolution in measurement and prediction. It has become a philosophy; an ideological regime that determines how decisions are made, and who makes them. It gives legitimacy to a new form of social and political control that takes the digital traces of our existence and then finds ways to use them to sort and manage populations. Big Data is part of a long and pervasive historical legacy of scientific oppression, aggressive public policy, and the most influential political and economic institution that has shaped and continues to shape this country’s economy: chattel slavery. Algorithms and other data technologies are the engines that facilitate the ongoing evolution of chattel slavery into the Prison Industrial Complex, justify the militarization of schoolyards and borders alike, and continued the expansion of contemporary practices of peonage.

This talk serves as a call to action to reject the concentration of Big Data in the hands of a few, to challenge the structures that allow data to be wielded as a weapon of immense political influence. To abolish Big Data would mean to put data in the hands of people who need it the most.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 4, 2020 from 5-7pm ET

4:30pm Doors open.

5-6pm Public talk + Q&A.

6-7pm Reception: snacks and sips provided.

WHERE: Data & Society, 36 W. 20th St., 11th Floor.

RSVP is required to attend. Not in NYC? Watch the livestream.

About the Speaker

Yeshimabeit Milner is the Founder & Executive Director of Data for Black Lives. She has worked since she was 17 behind the scenes as a movement builder, technologist and data scientist on a number of campaigns. She started Data for Black Lives because for too long she straddled the worlds of data and organizing and was determined to break down the silos to harness the power of data to make change in the lives of Black people. In two years, Data for Black Lives has raised over $2 million, hosted two sold out conferences at the MIT Media Lab and has changed the conversation around big data & technology across the US and globally.

As the founder of Data for Black Lives, her work has received much acclaim. Yeshimabeit is an Echoing Green Black Male Achievement Fellow, an Ashoka Fellow and joins the founders of Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street in the distinguished inaugural class of Roddenberry Foundation Fellows and most recently, was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30.

The XRoads of Black Digital Practice, February 20

The Roads of Black Digital Practice | Speaking Code Series
February 20 @ 6pm
More info here
Dr. Jessica Marie Johnson researches black diasporic freedom struggles from slavery to emancipation. As a digital humanist, Johnson explores ways digital and social media disseminate and create historical narratives, in particular, comparative histories of slavery and people of African descent. 

This lecture by Dr. Johnson presented by the Code as a Liberal Art and Historical Studies departments, is the first in a new series, Speaking Code: A Public Lecture Series on Code and the Liberal Arts.

The Question of Intelligence: AI and the Future of Humanity Exhibition, 2/7 – 4/18

Sheila Johnson Design Center @ The New School
Website

Over the past years artificial intelligence has moved to the center of technology discussions due to the rapidly increasing role of ‘machine learning’ in data processing and decision making for the purposes of commerce, labor, surveillance, and entertainment, among other areas. 

The Question of Intelligence features works in a range of media by more than a dozen artists, exploring what constitutes intelligence and if and how it can be constructed by algorithms and machines. The exhibition gives a conceptual overview of different ways in which digital art has critically engaged with developments in artificial intelligence, and investigates the social and cultural transformations generated by AI. 

Presenting a body of works that address the effects of the automation of our senses, The Question of Intelligence investigates vision as it is reflected in image recognition; speech and voice in relation to issues of sentience and personality, as well as the construction of knowledge. Some featured artists explore how AI learns to see and classifies images, exposing bias and contextual misunderstandings. Another group of artworks engages with the impact of automation on creativity and labor, which has generated both utopian and dystopian predictions. AI that takes creative labor to new forms of expression has become a trendy topic, while the replacement of human labor through AI already has serious socio-political consequences. 

Together the works in the exhibition examine and juxtapose the ability of humans and machines to acquire and apply skills and knowledge, raising questions of what the encoding of ‘intelligence’ means for the state of being human.

Featured artists: Memo Akten; Tega Brain; Baoyang Chen, Zhije Qiu, Ruixue Liu, Xiaoyu Guo, Yan Dai, Meng Chen, and Xiadong He from the Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing, China); Harold Cohen; Stephanie Dinkins; Mary Flanagan; Ken Goldberg and the AlphaGarden Collective (University of California at Berkeley); Lynn Hershman Leeson; LarbitsSisters; Mimi Onuoha; David Rokeby; Brett Wallace; and Lior Zalmanson.

“Countryside, The Future” Exhibition @ the Guggenheim, 2/20 – 8/14

Website

Countryside, The Future, is an exhibition addressing urgent environmental, political, and socioeconomic issues through the lens of architect and urbanist Rem Koolhaas and Samir Bantal, Director of AMO, the think tank of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). A unique exhibition for the Guggenheim Museum, Countryside, The Future will explore radical changes in the rural, remote, and wild territories collectively identified here as “countryside,” or the 98% of the earth’s surface not occupied by cities, with a full rotunda installation premised on original research. The project presents investigations by AMO, Koolhaas, with students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design; the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing; Wageningen University, Netherlands; and the University of Nairobi. The exhibition will examine the modern conception of leisure, large scale planning by political forces, climate change, migration, human- and non-human ecosystems, market driven preservation, artificial and organic coexistence and other forms of radical experimentation that are altering the landscapes across the world.

Countryside, The Future is organized by Troy Conrad Therrien, Curator of Architecture and Digital Initiatives, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, in collaboration with Rem Koolhaas and Samir Bantal, Rita Varjabedian, Anne Schneider, Aleksander Zinovev, Sebastian Bernardy, Yotam Ben Hur, Valentin Bansac, with Ashley Mendelsohn, Assistant Curator, Architecture and Digital Initiatives, at the Guggenheim. Key collaborators include Niklas Maak, Stephan Petermann, Irma Boom, Janna Bystrykh, Clemens Driessen, Lenora Ditzler, Kayoko Ota, Linda Nkatha, Etta Mideva Madete, Keigo Kobayashi, Federico Martelli, Ingo Niermann, James Westcott, Jiang Jun, Alexandra Kharitonova, Sebastien Marot, Fatma al Sahlawi, and Vivian Song.

“Nothing Is Automatic” Symposium @ Columbia, 4/17

209 Fayerweather Hall
Website

Organized in collaboration with Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, this symposium builds on and extends the research into architecture’s entanglements with technologies of automation presented in Work, Body, Leisure—the Dutch Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. The symposium returns to the long 20th century to ask what histories might be told of this nexus, including, for instance, how the logics of automation have implicated not only able or privileged bodies in the so-called Global North but also “other” and “othered” bodies, and their forms of life, in broader geographical and geopolitical contexts. The symposium will ask how to view and trace the impact and historical interconnections of technologies, social ideals, and legal and computational protocols that have managed humans, their time, their labor, and their behavior.

Organized by the Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices program in collaboration with the Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Storefront for Art and Architecture.

Prospecting Ocean Exhibition, Opening March 26 @ 6pm

Columbia GSAPP / Arthur Ross Gallery
March 26 – June 27
Website

The Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) is pleased to present Prospecting Ocean by Armin Linke, a multimedia artistic research project that investigates how the convergence of scientific research, legal frameworks, and economic interests affect the oceans. It features archival material, photographs, and filmed interviews with biologists, geologists, policymakers, legal experts, and activists, as well as behind-the-scenes footage and documentation at leading oceanographic research institutions and at sea. For his exhibition at Ross Gallery, Linke is developing a new “chapter” of his project that draws upon his research at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

The Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery presentation of Prospecting Ocean is organized by Columbia GSAPP and TBA21–Academy, and is co-curated by Irene Sunwoo, GSAPP Director of Exhibitions, and Stefanie Hessler, Director of Kunsthall Trondheim. It is a continuation of the exhibition Prospecting Ocean, curated by Stefanie Hessler for TBA21–Academy at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Venice, Italy (2018), commissioned and produced by TBA21–Academy.

About Armin Linke
For over twenty years, Armin Linke has explored the question of how humanity uses technologies and knowledge in order to transform the surface of the earth and adapt it to its needs. His films and photographs document human-made changes on land, at sea, and throughout the entire biosphere. Linke was Research Affiliate at MIT Visual Arts Program Cambridge, guest professor at the IUAV Arts and Design University in Venice and professor for photography at the University for Arts and Design Karlsruhe. Currently he is guest professor at ISIA, Urbino (IT) and artist in residence at the KHI Kunsthistorishes Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut. In 2004, Linke’s installation Alpi on the contemporary Alpine landscape won a special prize for the best work in the section “Episodes” at the Venice Architecture Biennale. In 2019, with Image Capital, Linke gained the Kubus.Sparda Art Prize (DE). His installation Carceri d’Invenzione, conceived in collaboration with Giulia Bruno and Giuseppe Ielasi, and curated by Anselm Franke, was the official German contribution to the XXII Triennale di Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival. His recent project Blind Sensorium. Il paradosso dell’Antropocene has been presented as part of the Matera European Capital of Culture 2019 program.

Lecture: 1/21, 1pm: Ben Green: The Smart Enough City

Tue, Jan 21, 1pm, LiPS (Lectures in Planning Series)
Columbia Graduate School of Architecture Planning & Preservation, 114 Avery Hall
Website

Smart cities, where technology is used to solve every problem, are hailed as futuristic urban utopias. We are promised that apps, algorithms, and artificial intelligence will relieve congestion, restore democracy, prevent crime, and improve public services. In The Smart Enough City, Ben Green warns against seeing the city only through the lens of technology; taking an exclusively technical view of urban life will lead to cities that appear smart but under the surface are rife with injustice and inequality. He proposes instead that cities strive to be “smart enough”: to embrace technology as a powerful tool when used in conjunction with other forms of social change — but not to value technology as an end in itself.

Ben Green is a PhD Candidate in Applied Math at Harvard, an Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, and a Research Fellow at the AI Now Institute at NYU. He studies the social and policy impacts of data science, with a focus on algorithmic fairness, municipal governments, and the criminal justice system. His book, The Smart Enough City: Putting Technology in Its Place to Reclaim Our Urban Future, was published in 2019 by MIT Press.