FUTURE POWER LAB

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_001: VAPOROUS CONTROL

Lab Author: Arshin Adib-Moghaddam

George Orwell’s 1984 came earlier than we thought as our traditional understanding of surveillance by a totalitarian state is being substituted by mechanisms of control that resemble an odourless and invisible gas infused with Diazepam, a potent mixture that numbs our motivational drives for social change.

 

Image: Yasuaki Onishi, "Reverse of Volume RG" (Japan, 2012)

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_002: SUPERSONIC GOVERNMENTALITY

If in the past we were governed by an incredibly alienating colossus or “the machine”, as the Iranian intellectual Jalal al-e Ahmad famously argued, then today’s data-driven techno-politics are foreshadowing an incredibly intrusive form of supersonic governmentality that is immediate, borderless and in its hyper-speed, almost invisible.

 

Example: Global biometric data collection and surveillance expand amidst lack of regulations.

 

Link: https://www.biometricupdate.com/202101/global-biometric-data-collection-and-surveillance-grow-despite-lack-of-regulations

Image: Josiah Mcelheny, "Endlessly Repeating Twentieth Century Modernism", 2007.

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_003: NEURAL RESISTANCE

For every “SS-bot” that magnifies learned biases and turns them into a form of neural fascism, we need a counter-mnemonic that churns out socially just algorithms that encode equality.

Example: Experimental Particle Physicist Dan McQuillan deploys an "anti-fascist" paradigm of AI to address people with learning and mental health disabilities, refugees and asylum-seekers, and victims of torture or disappearance by police.

Link/Image: http://danmcquillan.io/ai_and_antifascism.html

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_004: ROBOTIC PERFECTIONISM

The overman of Nietzsche was a benevolent post-human creature. Yet he is the same monster-cyborg driven by perfectionism that is guiding contemporary forays into the development of trans-human robots.

 

Example: Japanese government proposes cyborgs and robotic avatars for all by 2050

https://japantoday.com/category/tech/japanese-government-proposes-cyborgs-and-robotic-avatars-for-all-by-2050

Image: Takashi Kuribayashi : Imaginarium / a Voyage of Big Ideas | Art Installations, Sculpture, Contemporary Art https://www.pinterest.com/pin/1125968646127703/

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_005: BORDERLESS WORLD

Technology transposes us into a borderless world where the differences between us and them, self and other, are mere miscalculations induced by algorithmic confusion.

Image: Janne Parviainen, ‘Private Sunshine’, 18th August 2012 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jannepaint/7804643006/in/set-72157631039444612)

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_006: CYBER-BEYOND

It is in the tension between imposed geo-political borders and our instant ability to march beyond them in cyberspace, where the ultimate battle for the future of humanity will be won.

Example: The UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency) publishes study titled "Space and Imagination: Rethinking Refugees' Digital Access"

Link: UNHCR Study

Image: Darren Cullen, graffitykings.co.uk 

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/489485053234384907/

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_007: HORIZON / ABYSS

Is the horizon of artificial intelligence the transcendence of this-worldly life promised by the gods of antiquity, or the millenarian abyss predicted by the religions of the book?

Source: George RedHawk, ‘See the World through the eyes of a legally blind man’, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/380202393522410383/

Example: https://www.axios.com/anthony-levandowski-artificial-intelligence-church-611e4b39-e6c7-48f8-aaee-9ca667ec7c2d.html

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_008: COLONIAL JUNGLE

Decolonising Artificial Intelligence must start by genetically modifying the rhizome of knowledge as it has grown in the bewildering jungle of the Humanities.

Galería de Chile y España galardonados en los Lamp Lighting Design, January 2015

Source: https://www.plataformaarquitectura.cl/cl/768667/chile-y-espana-galardonados-en-los-lamp-lighting-design-2015/5580ce66e58ece710300012a-chile-y-espana-galardonados-en-los-lamp-lighting-design-2015-imagen?next_project=no

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_009: PANDEMIC GLOBALITY

Our pandemic connectivity exploited by Covid-19, begets a new form of globalised consciousness, where self and other cannot escape the viral tissues that compose the surface effect of our common humanity.

Example: Filmmakers and screenwriters--known as the Plague Prophets--predicted the age of pandemic society in advance of the current quarantined world.

 

Link: https://www.vox.com/culture/22289454/pandemic-year-contagion-world-war-z-station-eleven-rest-relaxation 

Image: Nympics Photography Instagram page 2021,  https://www.pinterest.com/nimpicss/_created/

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_010: MICROGOVERNANCE

OF BODIES

The panopticon of yesterday has transmuted into the nanoptical, micro-governance of our bodies, which are increasingly escaping this form of governance by metamorphosing into sites of teflonic resistance.

Example: Contact Tracing App in Singapore, ‘How Singapore's contact tracing technology undermines citizen's trust.

https://edition.cnn.com/videos/tech/2021/01/25/singapore-

coronavirus-covid-19-contact-tracing-privacy-lu-stout-pkg-intl-hnk-vpx.cnn

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_011: POLITICO-AESTHETICS

It is in the most humane faculties of our mind that are sparked into action by the aesthetic beauty of poetry and other beaux-arts, that we can find the universality of seemingly mundane, but utterly political sentiments such as happiness and pain.

Example: Graffiti artist Banksy's "Walled Off Hotel" overlooking the Palestinian territories offers showcases of his murals along with "the worst view in the world."

Link:https://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/arts/artwork/banksys-walled-off-hotel.htm

Image: “Ego Strip” by Dan Lish, no date, Source: https://danlish1.tumblr.com/post/103909128923/ego-strip-by-dan-lish-which-would-you-next-like

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_012: PSYCHO-NATIONALISM

Nationalism does to humanity, what quarantine does to society. An entire field of study awaits surrounding the notion of Psycho-Nationalism.

 

Example: Vaccine Nationalism:

https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2021/2/7/what-is-vaccine-nationalism-and-why-is-it-so-harmful

Source: “Shows”, by Kanishka Kashyap

Image Link: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/602497256398708266/

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_013: ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE OLD WORLD

It is in the labyrinthine catacombs of the human heart, where a form of algorithmic empathy will be uncoded in order to unleash the emancipatory beauty and aesthetics running through the ancient arteries of the Global South. The answers of tomorrow require a thorough archeology into the cultural depths of the “old world”.

Jade, “The Home of Sigh”, Barranco – Lima – Peru: https://streetartnews.net/2015/05/jade-paints-striking-mural-in-barranco.html

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_014: FRONTAL LOBE CONTROL

The new forms of governance will be exercised along the cognitive faculties deeply lodged in the frontal lobe of our brains which are already hard-wired to our personal computers and smart phones.

Example: ‘Global technology governance can succeed with the right cooperation’, The World Economic Forum is convening the first Global Technology Governance Summit on 6-7 April 2021.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/global-technology-governance-can-succeed-with-cooperation-mitsubishi/

Image: Atsushi Koyama, Tokyo, 2014. Source: https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/12/mechanical-drawings-and-the-human-form-merge-in-oil-paintings-by-atsushi-koyama/

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_015: TRANSPOSED FORMULA

AI algorithms transpose the formulas of racism and the mnemonics of sexism into the body politic of the ruling machine.

Example: “When Good Algorithms Go Sexist: Why and How to Advance AI Gender Equity”, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 31st March 2021

https://ssir.org/articles/entry/when_good_algorithms_go_sexist_why_and_how_to_advance_ai_gender_equity#

Image: David Altmejd, Mixed-media sculpture, http://hifructose.com/2018/05/30/david-altmejds-strange-figurative-sculptures/

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_016: IDEOLOGICAL TRICKS

No ideological hocus pocus can change reality for the long term. The hocus pocus is but a bad trick to shirk the responsibilities that come with holding power, and it is not a long term formula for governance.

Example: Composite Bodies Series | Entangled Nuclear Colonialisms, Matters of Force, and the Material Force of Justice (Northeastern and Harvard University)

Link: https://cssh.northeastern.edu/humanities/composite-bodies-series-entangled-nuclear-colonialisms-matters-of-force-and-the-material-force-of-justice/?fbclid=IwAR2Eez5chapLlpGRmem91zsiYNSAUVEbNcJs-7ePKzHCPRaw0yebgk6NiRA

Laurie Zuckerman, Dia de los Muertos (The day of the dead), https://www.pinterest.com/pin/17732992260333275/

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_017: POLITICAL SUBMERGENCE

If the philosophers of the past managed to tame the demonic powers of fascist political mutants, then the intellectuals of the future need to submerge into a world of new possibilities that is liberated from the shackles of dogma and ideology.

Example: The Muraka Underwater Hotel Room at Conrad Maldives. (Rangali Island Rangali, Maldives).

https://www.conradmaldives.com/stay/the-muraka/

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_018: STRATOSPHERIC UNIVERSALITY

Civilisations are not tectonic plates that clash against each other. They are hybrid formations that merge into a stratospheric universality composed by us.

Example: Scientists claim the viral pandemic sheds light on new strategies for solar geoengineering (i.e. stratospheric aerosol injection) that if gone unheeded might lead to political conflicts of the most vicious kind. 

Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-020-00018-1

Image: Miguel Rothchild,  Elegy, 2017, https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2018/02/suspended-ocean-wave-installations-by-miguel-rothschild/

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_019: KILLER ROBOTS

Example: The former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, presided over a US National Security Commission whose members unanimously concluded that the United States has a “moral imperative” to lead in the pursuit of lethal autonomous weapons such as “killer robots” (https://www.nscai.gov/)

This is the onset of a form of post-human warfare that threatens to turn every aspect of our current existence into a securitised battlefield, from Alexa to our mobile phones. Moreover, the legal structure undergirding the current international system is human-centric and does not encompass “killer robots” and their algorithmic codification which threatens to escape our notions of culpability.

Image: https://www.superstock.co.uk/stock-photos-images/900-1865

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_020: EXISTENCE TRADING

Example: Data brokerage firm LexisNexis, better known as a search engine for scholarly and legal research, signed a US$16.8 million contract in February this year to sell user’s information on their data base to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

 

(https://theintercept.com/2021/04/02/ice-database-surveillance-lexisnexis/)

 

Surveillance capitalism is an ever-increasing threat to our human security. It threatens to turn our everyday existence into a commodity easily traded among self-interested tech-firms and their enablers.

Courtesy of Atoq Ramon, Peruvian photographer. Source: https://theculturetrip.com/south-america/peru/articles/11-peruvian-photographers-to-watch-out-for/

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_021: RACE AND ALGORITHM

Example: An algorithm by a software company called COMPAS was used to predict the particular tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend. However, when the algorithm was wrong in its predicting, the results were displayed differently for black and white offenders, as black offenders were flagged up as particularly unworthy of probation.

Racism is a residue of European modernity. The data sets feeding into AI-systems will be prejudiced and discriminatory, as long as racism remains a part of our social reality.

Image: Mark di Suvero, “Prison Dream“, 1961 (https://www.wikiart.org/en/mark-di-suvero/prison-dream-1961)

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_022: POSTMODERN RESISTANCE

“There always is an unfolding of resistance and power into each other.”

The “Arab Spring” which started in Tunisia in 2011 led to the downfall of the longest serving dictators of the Arab World including Muammar Gadaffi of Libya, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia. Scholars theorised the events as typical for a particularly post-modern manifestation of resistance which grew dialectically out of an outdated form of governance.

John Moore, The Arab Spring, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/hayesbrown/23-pictures-that-capture-just-how-huge-the-arab-spring-reall

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_023: DISTRIBUTED BRAIN DRONE

Example: So-called Perdix drones shot out of an F/A-18 Super Hornet could be scaled to tens of thousands of drones, creating a weapon akin to a low-scale nuclear device? Such drones communicate with one another using a distributed brain, complex formation, traveling across a battlefield, and reforming into a new formation.

As the theoreticians of the so called “Frankfurt School” rightly argued in their seminal books, perfecting technologies of death must be treated as one of the main residues of the European enlightenment.

(https://thebulletin.org/2021/04/meet-the-future-weapon-of-mass-destruction-the-drone-swarm/)

Image: Adam Martinakis, “Lightbreak”, https://www.vice.com/en/article/xy4zvk/humans-as-fractured-composites-of-our-universe-article

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POST_024: SEROTONIN SELLERS

Surveillance capitalists  sell us what they take from our bodies: Serotonin.

News Story: “Apple iOS 14.5 update: Facebook, Instagram notice says ‘tracking’ helps keeps apps free.” Facebook and Instagram apps on Apple iOS 14.5 have begun showing a new notice that urges users to let the apps track user activity to continue using the services for free.

https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/tech-news-technology/apple-ios-14-5-update-facebook-instagram-notice-says-tracking-helps-keeps-apps-free-7301610/

Image: Maryna Hromenko, “Red Lipstick”, no date

https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Collage-Red-lipstick/1106932/4416704/view

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POST_025: PSEUDO-REALITY VS. THE LIBRARY

Example: A recent study of researchers from Drexel University and Worcester Polytechnic found out that humans are likely to believe anything for a few moments, if it comes from what they consider a “trusted” sources, for instance an AI machine.

The barrage of “fake news” that we are constantly bombarded with is meant to create a pseudo-reality suitable to the needs of governance and not to our human security. The only bastion of resistance remains the library and our self-education.

https://thenextweb.com/news/how-politicians-manipulate-the-masses-with-simple-ai

Image: Rashid Abdullah, “Calm”, https://www.behance.net/gallery/70909875/Calm

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POST_026: THE INFINITELY IRREPRODUCIBLE

Note: Love, empathy and affection are some of the most under-researched themes in politics.

Example: Current research is showing that these sentiments can’t be readily mimicked by AI systems, even superintelligent ones. See: Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, ‘Artificial Intelligence Artificial intelligence must not be allowed to replace the imperfection of human empathy’, Business Reporter, May 2021,

 

https://business-reporter.co.uk/2021/04/29/artificial-intelligence-must-not-be-allowed-to-replace-the-imperfection-of-human-empathy/

Image: Frank Kumann, “Pray for the Wounded Soul”,

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POST_027: HAVOC AND VULNERABILITY

In the current violence between the Israeli Defence Forces and the Palestinian HAMAS movement, the latter used GPS guided “kamikaze drones” for the first time in the long history of the conflict.

The ability to hit precision targets, especially vulnerable infrastructural facilities like oil and gas storage and chemical plants, makes kamikaze drones a viable threat. The drones of the future will be even more lethal and accurate in their purpose to cause havoc and destruction. There is no bunker that technology can’t reach.

Image: Lentescura, L’Abbraccio, 2014. https://www.deviantart.com/l-e-n-t-e-s-c-u-r-a/art/L-abbraccio-467793473

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POST_028: RICOCHET AND CAMOUFLAGE

On the ethers of the world wide web, every individual becomes a target of power, and therefore an harbinger of resistance. Camouflaged to fit into the new realities of a techno-dominated society, the future rebel has no ideological foundations – her resistance emerges with supersonic speed from various directions as it ricochets away from power, like a high-velocity projectile that doesn’t adhere to any calculation or social formula.

Resistance! https://www.pinterest.com/pin/548102217158664438/

 

Example: In 2014, the hacktivist group Anonymous took down the official website of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad against Israel's military incursion in Gaza, which had resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties.

https://thehackernews.com/2014/07/anonymous-group-takes-down-mossads_31.html

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POST_029: POLITICAL DISCOURSE-BOTS

Example: Trials have started into creating fully animated talking bots trained in narrow-domain text generator who will be able to discuss politics with you, This would be a Biden-bot, or perhaps a Putin-bot that can debate things with you on the internet.

Technology has had a dual effect on political participation. On the one side, it makes politics more immediate as the Twitter account of Donald Trump showed. On the other side, it turns us into a vile dependency on technology that serves the political class to buttress their power strategies on the basis of our data and the preferences contained therein.

Image: Trump International Tower, Dubai

 

https://homesthetics.net/45-of-the-most-famous-buildings-in-the-world-that-are-known-for-their-unconventional-architectural-structure/

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POST_030: POWER OF SUGGESTION

Example: The UK-based AI start up Faculty just raised US$42.5 million in a growth funding round. The company was instrumental in winning the Brexit vote for the current UK government. It has also been telling global corporates like Red Bull and Virgin Media what to suggest to their customers, based on processing vast amounts of data.

Targeted advertisement for political purposes used to be called propaganda, as it is meant to warp the truth in favour of a political movement and/or agenda. In this case Faculty used their AI know-how to flood Facebook users with pro-Brexit messages that took the UK out of the European Union.

Image: “Universes in Universe”, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/5981411991832406/

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POST_031: THE DATABASE AND THE BLIND EYE

Example: A company called Clearview AI has access to over 3 billion images drawn from your social media sites and internet blogs. This database is larger than that of the FBI.

The database of Clearview AI is more expansive than that of major governmental organizations and has has been used to identify protesters in the recent uprising in the United States. Therefore, it has come under increasing scrutiny in the EU which has some of the most stringent privacy laws in the world.

 

Link: https://www.dw.com/en/privacy-activists-challenge-clearview-ai-in-eu/a-57691756

Image: Work of artist George Redhawk, whose exhibit titled "The World Through My Eyes" (Paris, 2015) uses computer animation techniques to illustrate the visual distortions that he himself experienced as he became legally blind.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/lynzybilling/see-the-world-through-the-eyes-of-a-legally-blind-man?utm_term=.rc0YY6RK1#7496768

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POST_032: FACIAL RECOGNITION AND THE BLIND EYE

Example: When Apple’s IPhone X was launched, it failed to recognize the facial features of Chinese users who could not use the FaceID feature because of that.

Research has shown that algorithms can be racist and that facial recognition software has a 5% to 50% chance of being wrong. On that basis false arrests have already been made.

Image: Again, legally blind artist George Redhawk mirrors the progressive deterioration of his sight in non-static photos that he calls "motion art" but which increasingly are being referred to as the Redhawk Effect. 

Source: https://www.buzzfeed.com/lynzybilling/see-the-world-through-the-eyes-of-a-legally-blind-man

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POST_033: TOPOGRAPHICAL OBJECT OF THE SKIN

Example: In the United States, data used by health care providers overwhelmingly discriminate against darker skinned people? For instance AI driven technology used by dermatologists in order to detect skin cancer are missing samples of darker skin types. 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, fair-skinned people are at the highest risk for contracting skin cancer. However, the mortality rate for African Americans is considerably higher: Their five-year survival rate is 73 percent, compared with 90 percent for white Americans, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The human skin as a topographical object of racism is the exact opposite to the dominance of blackness in haute couture which has been central to our sense of aesthetics ever since modern fashion has been invented. 

Image: Cristobal Balenciaga, L’Oeuvre Au Noir (Working in Black),

 

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/414049759481683367/

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POST_034: CYBER-ASSASSINS

Example: “Recently… people are beginning to see you as another narcissistic rich dude who is desperate for attention,” said the international hacktivist group to Tesla and SpaceX chief, Elon Musk this week. “You may think you are the smartest person in the room, but now you have met your match. We are Anonymous! We are legion. Expect us.”

Very much comparable to the legendary “Hashashin” movement, the order of the assassins who were based in Alamut castle in Persia and who hunted down their enemies whilst high on drugs (or so the fables say), Anonymous, too, uses the power of deception as a mind-altering strategy to disturb the status quo.

Artush, Black panther 60x80cm, oil painting, surrealistic (2013).

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/842665780280410841/

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POST_035: BORDERLESS CANVAS

Example: In the future, international power will not be calculated in terms of the strength of your army, but the destructive force of your algorithms. China calls this “intelligentized warfare” in its latest five-year plan.

 

International theorists, from the ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu to the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, measure power in terms of materiality. Today, we have entered the realm of virtual, mnemonic power which transpose our Alexas and Siris into a borderless canvas of war.

Daniel Arsham “Creation and Destruction at the Hands of Humans”,

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/606086062354873748/
 

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POST_36: PERFECT MEMORY / EXTINCTIVE SYSTEM

The British based AI company DeepMind made news this week when it announced that AI systems will outperform humans sooner than we think, and perhaps even within a decade. New inventions are allowing for instantaneous calculation and perfect memory, leading to an artificial intelligence that would outperform humans at nearly every cognitive task.

The consequences for this so called Artificial General Intelligence for world politics and international security are vast. DeepMind itself is owned by Google – a company that is involved in various military applications for the Pentagon, including autonomous weapons systems that can kill without human supervision. Like the “Black Death” and other plagues this type of extinctive systems kill out of nowhere.

Image: Mé Art Collective Tokyo, “CONTACT”, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan, https://www.ignant.com/2019/03/05/this-installation-in-japan-mimics-the-tumultuous-nature-of-ocean-waves/

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POST_37: ANONYMOUS CHALLENGERS

This week, Jake Davis, the former hacker known as ‘Topiary’ and senior member of hacktivist group Anonymous has spoken about the scale of the ransomware challenge facing organisations today. He declared: “I’m a former hacktivist, I was involved in Anonymous and Lulzsec. I was involved in hacking the Westboro Baptist Church, which is a homophobic and racist group. We would target groups like this and take them down.”

In our techno-society every email that we send, online store that we visit, What’s App message that we open is monitored and traced. In such an environment “anonymity” is not merely a virtue, it translates into power. This is why “Anonymous” choose their name, as they emerge out of the labyrinthine ethers of the world-wide-web.

Image: Tomas Saraceno, "On Space Time Foam" (2013)

Link: https://www.evolo.us/walking-on-clouds-on-space-time-foam-by-tomas-saraceno/

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POST_38: PEGASUS SPYWARE

The news that a programme called Pegasus, the spyware manufactured by Israel’s NSO Group, has been used to track and trace academics, journalists and activists all over the world has shattered the myth that common people are not victims of such “weapons of mass surveillance.” Once Pegasus infiltrates your phone it can harvest ANY data from your device, including What’s APP messages, photos, messages etc. It can even switch on your microphone and listen to your conversations and track your every move your phone’s GPS system.

For the first time in history, the ruling elites have equipped themselves with the powers to fully penetrate your everyday life. The Iranian philosopher Jamal al-e Ahmad as well as the the Frankfurt School and novelists such as George Orwell all foresaw decades ago that technology will be used to control and suppress.

Lockheed Martin, 1984. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/78390849733435017/

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POST_39: ADVANTAGE GAMES

This week open source intelligence reports identified more than 150 Russian AI-enabled military systems in various stages of development. While Russia is not a global leader in commercial AI-based systems, it is focusing its efforts on strategic security areas such as autonomous air, underwater, surface and ground platforms.

Technology has always been the advantage of empires as speed and pursuit are at the heart of all conquest. Therefore, there is a new world order emerging that transposes the great game of global domination increasingly into the murky ethers of the virtual world and its supersonic AI-induced identities.  

Image: Mischa Kuball   Space – Speech – Speed, instalação no Faena Arts Center, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2013.

https://casavogue.globo.com/MostrasExpos/Arte/noticia/2013/09/faena-art-center-light-art-borges-anthony-mccall-mischa-kuball.html

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POST_40: CYBORG BIOPOLITICS

I have repeatedly covered the Hacktivist movement “Anonymous” on this channel. Their self-proclaimed struggle in support of marginalised groups and individuals continued this week, when they targeted the conspiracy “Querdenker” movement in Germany which denies virology and the health effects of Covid-19 encouraging people not to get vaccinated.

  

It has been rumoured that the French intellectual Michel Foucault deemed HIV AIDS a form of biopolitical control to subdue homosexuals right up until he passed away from the disease in 1984. One of the biggest minds of the 20th century was wrong on this occasion, but his concept of biopolitics does say a lot about the ways our bodies are governed and even more so after the pandemic as we are dependent on technology like never before in the history of humanity. We have entered the age of the cyborg without enough knowledge about who is programming us.

Image: Injection – collaboration by graffiti artists in province of Buenos Aires. Photo © BA Street Art.

https://buenosairesstreetart.com/2021/07/covid-street-art-and-graffiti-in-buenos-aires-and-argentina/

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POST_41: IMPERIALIST DOMINO-EFFECT

The government of Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom is set to hoard up to 210 million spare Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2021, as some of the poorest countries in the world such as Yemen and Benin can’t get their hands on them. Meanwhile, the German government has opposed a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights on coronavirus vaccines. The bid was tabled at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in October 2020 by India and South Africa – and has since been backed by countries including by the Biden administration in the US, France and Italy.

Imperialism was never only about geopolitical expansion. It must be treated as a homicidal attitude that denies our common humanity and the existential challenges that this pandemic connectivity brings about. In his wonderful quatrains that adorn the buildings of the United Nations in New York City, the legendary 13th century Persian poet of love, Omar Khayyam, who authored the world-famous Rubayyat, foresaw the domino effect that present and future catastrophes are/ will be bringing about if we don’t acknowledge our common constitution as humans:

Human beings are members of a whole,
in creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
the name of human you cannot retain.

image: Edmund Joseph Sullivan (1869–1933), Illustration for The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1913

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/86623992815309924/

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POST_42: AI-ISLAND HEADQUARTER

Did you know that China has recently collaborated with Cuba to establish an AI-headquarter on the island? The recent electoral successes of “leftist” governments in Peru and elsewhere, are radically shifting the geo-political calculus in Latin America, which is aided and abetted by AI-technology and its employment as a new type of “professional politics” in the region and beyond.

The current Russian President Vladimir Putin famously said: “Whoever becomes the leader in AI will become the ruler of the world.” The new tapestry of global politics is increasingly interwoven with technological strands, that are creating a new world order that will be different from anything we have experienced before.  

image: Maximo Laura, Peruvian Tapestry Art, Lima.  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/304204149802637601/

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POST_43: FUTURISTIC VEILING

Algorithms rule the world. How can you poison them? People all over the world are engaged in “data strikes”, concerted efforts to withhold or delete your data so that tech firms can’t access you or to contribute harmful/meaningless data that can’t be used to personalise advertisement - a US$ 120 billion business for companies such as Google.

In Islamic philosophy and other thought systems, the “veil” was never merely about covering one’s body, but primarily about ensuring one’s anonymity and privacy and shielding it from nefarious forces. The current waves of “data strikes” that are also advocated by Hacktivist groups such as “Anonymous”, are a form of veiling – a potent shield from the penetrative QR code that scans our everyday lives and which is branded upon our bodies by the so called tech giants.

Allessandro, Lupi, CUBA, Bienal de La Habana, 2009, https://www.alessandrolupi.com/portfolio/densita-fluorescente-cuba/

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POST_44: NEFARIOUS TECHNICS

The United States and its allies have been defeated in Afghanistan. The debacle for the Afghan people has a pronounced data dimension which indicates the dangers of datafication. The victorious “Taliban” got access to 40 pieces of data per person—from iris scans and family links to their favourite fruit. This was a system supervised by the US meant to cut fraud in the Afghan security forces. It now gives the Taliban access to “collaborators” whom they could target for their cooperation with NATO forces.

The availability of data and technology more generally radically reinterprets the meaning of information as privacy is invaded like never before, by the state, but also by nefarious movements with a violent agenda.

Kabul Gallery, https://www.pinterest.com/KabulGallery/_created/

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POST_45: OLD TRANSHUMANISM

The US and NATO defeat in Afghanistan clearly showed that technology doesn’t win wars. The strategic theatre in the mountainous country became a prominent field project for the newest war technology, in particular drones that were employed by NATO forces with deadly effect. Yet, in the end it was the seemingly medieval Taliban that retained the upper hand, and that after two decades of war.

For all the talk of “transhumanism” that is seemingly turning us into effects of technology, the Afghan war demonstrates that an existential threat, which triggers old-fashioned drivers of human motivation such as the survival instinct, flares up decisively in the face of any powerful techno-war machinery –

 

“Selling oranges in Afghanistan”, https://imgur.com/r/pics/k2Pdk4x

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POST_46: CASUALTIES OF INNOCENCE

When military planners made the case for drone warfare in order to inflate their budgets, one of the main arguments that they made was the precision of such weaponry which was said to minimise civilian casualties. On 17th September 2021, the Pentagon admitted killing 10 civilians, including seven Afghan children near the capital Kabul “by mistake”.

Wars have always licensed the killing of the innoncent. But drone warfare in particular affords the state with a sanitised, remote and almost aestheticed version of warfare, that incorporates the individual in the act of killing. You and I could be either the target for whom the drone is assembled and programmed in the first place, or the executioner who pulls the trigger bringing about this death from above. We could also be peace activists.  

Maximo Laura, Tapestry Weaver, Lima, Peru,

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/616078424012203586/

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POST_47: RESISTANCE OF THE UNDECIPHERABLE

The Iranian state administers some of the most stringent internet rules, also in order to contain the influence and cyberattacks of the country’s enemies. However, a new Android APP encrypts up to 1000 characters of Persian text into an undecipherable jumble of words. You can send this mélange to a friend over any communication platform—Telegram, WhatsApp, Google Chat, etc.—and then they run it through the App on their device to decipher what you’ve said and to get around any censorship.

Technology can function as an instrument of power AND resistance as even the most sophisticated algorithm can be decoded. Technology, then, is permeable which implies that it can be used in any direction: To discipline and punish and/or to emancipate and liberate.

Babak Kazemi, The Exit of Farhad and Shirin, 2012, 30″ x 40″, C print. https://fouladiprojects.com/portfolio-item/babak-kazemi/

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POST_48: FACIAL MAPPING

Emotion recognition systems are dependent on face mapping. This technology could be used to scan a person's face using a 3D laser scanning system, and then project and manipulate CGI graphics onto the face in real time – a form of virtual and highly sophisticated stage make up central to OMOTE a new Japanese technology. But face mapping can also be used to “read” our emotional state and to psychologically sort and categorise us. In this way “make-up” could be a form of resistance to conceal our emotional state from predatory AI-systems.

 

AI-technologies that are only just invented escape any regulatory framework. This is why the UN commissioned a report including into the “use of emotion recognition systems by public authorities, for instance for singling out individuals for police stops or arrests or to assess the veracity of statements during interrogations”. Such AI-powered systems that can read your emotions are against human rights as they challenge long established norms such as the rights to privacy, to liberty and to a fair trial.

‘Dia De Los Muertos Makeup’, Mexico,

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/421931058810524463/

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POST_49: THE POWER OF MISRECOGNITION

Dozens of black Uber drivers in Britain, have been repeatedly prevented from working due to what they say is “racist” facial verification technology. Uber uses Microsoft Face API software on its app to verify the identity of their drivers. The algorithm underlying the software has difficulty properly recognizing individuals with darker skin tones. Similar problems have been reported by other ethnic groups, for instance when the Apple face recognition systems embedded in the I-Phone failed to recognize users with a Chinese background.

 

Racism is embedded in the DNA of our social systems at least since the onset of modernity in Europe. Algorithmic bias embedded in any computational system governing our institutions threatens to encode this racism and to make it untraceable, normalised and therefore, permanently opaque. 

 

Baba Musah Swallah, By boat. Acrylic on wood.

https://www.davisart.com/schoolarts/issues/2021/compassion/anti-racist-art-educators/

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