Rob Kitchin has published a new article on RTE Brainstorm, The ethics of smart cities. The piece argues that the use of big data and artificial intelligence in managing cities creates many ethical issues, but initiatives to address them can enact ethics-washing in order to avoid regulation and more fundamental questions. The argument is illustrated with reference to initiatives in Toronto and Barcelona.
Happy New Year!
Aphra Kerr (Maynooth University) – Bringing the citizen back into the Algorithmic Age
Adi Kuntsman and Esperanza Miyake (Manchester Metropolitan University) – Digital disengagement as a right and a privilege: Challenges and socio-political possibilities of refusal in dataised times
Kate Symons (University of Edinburgh) – OxChain – Reshaping development donors and recipients
Gabriela Avram (University of Limerick) – Community networks as a form of resistance
Rachel O’Dwyer (Trinity College Dublin) – Coined liberty: Cash as resistance to transactional dataveillance
Lindsay Ems (Butler University) – Global resistance through technology non-use: An Amish case
On the 14th December, we organised the event Slow computing: A workshop on resistance in the algorithmic age. We are processing the video from the day, slowly of course, for those of you who could not attend or those who did but would like to relive the many interesting talks again.
To kick-off, we are sharing the video from the first session. More will follow in the new year, so stay tuned!
Introduction: Rob Kitchin and Alistair Fraser (Maynooth University) – Slow computing
Keynote: Stefania Milan (University of Amsterdam and University of Oslo) – Resist, subvert, accelerate
Nancy Ettlinger (Ohio State University) – Algorithmic affordances for resistance
A new Progcity working paper (No. 36), Slow Computing, has been published by Alistair Fraser and Rob Kitchin. It was prepared as a position paper for the ‘Slow computing: A workshop on resistance in the algorithmic age’, Dec 14th 2017.
In this short position paper we examine some of the dimensions and dynamics of the algorithmic age by considering three broad questions. First, what are the problematic consequences of life mediated by ‘algorithm machines’? Second, how are individuals or groups and associations resisting the problems they encounter? Third, how might the algorithmic age be re-envisioned and re-made in more normative terms? We focus on two key aspects of living with ubiquitous computing, ‘acceleration’ and ‘data grabbing,’ which we contend are two of the most prominent and problematic features of the algorithmic age. We then begin to shed light on the sorts of practices that constitute slow computing responses to these issues. In the conclusion, we make the case for a widescale embrace of slow computing, which we propose is a necessary step for society to make the most of the undeniable opportunities for radical social change emerging from contemporary technological developments.
One-day Workshop, Hamilton Seminar Room (317), Eolas Building, North Campus, Maynooth University, Ireland, December 14th, 2017
Hosted by the Programmable City project at Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute and the Department of Geography
Places are strictly limited so please register by December 1st Register Now
In line with the parallel concepts of slow food (e.g. Miele & Murdoch 2002) or slow scholarship (Mountz et al 2015), ‘slow computing’ (Fraser 2017) is a provocation to resist. In this case, the idea of ‘slow computing’ prompts users of contemporary technologies to consider ways of refusing the invitation to enroll in data grabbing architectures – constituted in complex overlapping ways by today’s technology services and devices – and by accepting greater levels of inconvenience while also pursuing data security, privacy, and even a degree of isolation from the online worlds of social networks.
The case for slow computing arises from the emerging form and nature of ‘the algorithmic age.’ As is widely noted across the sciences today (e.g. see Boyd & Crawford 2012; Kitchin 2014), the algorithmic age is propelled forward by a wide range of firms and government agencies pursuing the roll-out of data-driven and data-demanding technologies. The effects are varied, differentiated, and heavily debated. However, one obvious effect entails the re-formatting of consumers into data producers who (knowingly or unwittingly) generate millions of data points that technology firms can crunch and manipulate to understand specific markets and society as a whole, not to mention the public and private lives of everyday users. Once these users are dispossessed of the value they help create (Thatcher et al 2016), and then conceivably targeted in nefarious ways by advertisers and political campaigners (e.g. see Winston 2016), the subsequent implications for economic and democratic life are potentially far-reaching.
As such, as we move further into a world of ‘big data’ and the so-called ‘digital economy,’ there is a need to ask how individuals – as well as civil society organizations, small firms, small-scale farmers, and many others – might continue to make appropriate and fruitful use of today’s technologies, but while also trying to avoid becoming another data point in the new data-aggregating market. Does slow computing offer a way to navigate the algorithmic age while taking justice seriously? Can slow computing become a part of diverse strategies or tactics of resistance today? Just what are the possibilities and limitations of slow computing?
This one-day workshop will discuss these and other questions about slow computing.
For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
10.00-10.15 Welcome: Rob Kitchin & Alistair Fraser
10.15-11.30 Keynote address: Stefania Milan, Associate Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam and Associate Professor of Media Innovation (II) at the University of Oslo.
Paper session 1: Problematising the algorithmic age
11.30-11.45 Nancy Ettlinger, Algorithmic affordances for resistance
11.45-12.00 Jess Hoare, Slippery people: Technologization and technoratization of cities and bodies
12.00-12.15 Pip Thornton, Language in the age of algorithmic reproduction: a critique of linguistic capitalism and an artistic intervention
12.15-12.30 Chris Pinchen, Dance Like Your Microwave Isn’t Watching: (From CryptoParty to Teen Vogue via Emma Goldman and reverse engineered sex toys)
Paper Session 2: Rights and resistance in the algorithmic age
14.00-14.15 Aphra Kerr, Bringing the citizen back into the Algorithmic Age
14.15-14.30 Gabriela Avram, Community networks as a form of resistance
14.30-14.45 Adi Kuntsman and Esperanza Miyake, Digital disengagement as a right and a privilege: challenges and socio-political possibilities of refusal in dataised times
14.45-15.00 Marguerite Barry, Kalpana Shankar, Aphra Kerr, Slowcalisation – towards an ethic of care for human-data interactions
Paper Session 3: Practising slow computing
16.00-16.15 Paul O’Neill, Practice what we preach: Tactical media art as a form of political resistance
16.15-16.30 Rachel O’Dwyer, Coined Liberty: Cash as Resistance to Transactional Dataveillance
16.30-16.45 Lindsay Ems, Global Resistance through Technology Non-Use: An Amish Case Study
16.45-17.00 Kate Symons, OxChain – Reshaping development donors and recipients
Leighton Evans and Rob Kitchin have published a new Programmable City working paper (No. 34): A smart place to work? Big data systems, labour, control, and modern retail stores.
The modern retail store is a complex coded assemblage and data-intensive environment, its operations and management mediated by a number of interlinked big data systems. This paper draws on an ethnography of a superstore in Ireland to examine how these systems modulate the functioning of the store and working practices of employees. It was found that retail work involves a continual movement between a governance regime of control reliant on big data systems which seek to regulate and harnesses formal labour and automation into enterprise planning, and a disciplinary regime that deals with the symbolic, interactive labour that workers perform and acts as a reserve mode of governmentality if control fails. This continual movement is caused by new systems of control being open to vertical and horizontal fissures. While retail functions as a coded assemblage of control, systems are too brittle to sustain the code/space and governmentality desired.
Access the PDF here