Workshops and Talks

“The sun always shines somewhere”: Re-imagining the internet with low-tech solar servers

Wed, 8 December 2021
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM EST

What if internet traffic followed the logic of the sun and the winds, rather than demands for speed and an ever-growing amount of data? How can we build networked infrastructure that not only evades the structures of profit and surveillance imposed by the capitalist framework, but also cares for and respects the limitations of the planet’s resources?

Join us for a discussion with Labomedia and Solar Protocol, two groups that are building eco-low-tech servers powered by solar and wind energy to show that a different Internet is possible. Engaging with questions of care, distribution and what constitutes “natural” rather than artificial intelligence, they invite us to re-think and re-design how we connect with technology, the natural world, and each other.

This is an online event. You can register here.

Benjamin Cadon is the coordinator of Labomedia based in Orléans/France. Labomedia is a non-profit association that brings together a medialab, a fablab and a hackerspace to help individuals and collectives to carry out artistic, cultural and social projects involving a technological dimension.
Benjamin has been working in the field of digital arts and cultures since 1999. He leads collective experimentation and research by carrying out workshops, installations and audiovisual performances.

Solar Protocol is a web platform hosted across a network of solar-powered servers set up in different locations around the world. It was created by Tega BrainAlex Nathanson and Benedetta Piantella. You can read more about them on their respective websites.

This event is organized by the Machine Agencies working group of the Speculative Life cluster at the Milieux Institute.

Image credits:
“Sun dial” by Jason Garber, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“Solar panels in the mist” by Oregon Department of Transportation, CC BY 2.0
“Internet” by .hd., CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
All three images were cropped and remixed.

MA Meets 3

Machines of deception: Social life after the Turing Test

Dr Simone Natale

Loughborough University, Communication and Media Studies

Thursday, April 2, 2020

10 – 11 am

Zoom (link here)

Since its inception in the 1950s, the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been nurtured by the dream – cherished by some scientists while dismissed as unrealistic by others – that it will lead to forms of consciousness similar or alternative to human life. Yet, AI might be more accurately described as a range of technologies providing a convincing illusion of intelligence – in other words, not much the creation of intelligent beings, but rather of technologies that are perceived by humans as such. Drawing from the history of AI from the Turing Test to contemporary AI assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, the talk will argue that AI resides also and perhaps especially in the perception of human users. Taking up this point of view helps realize how our tendency to project humanity and intelligence into things makes AI potentially disruptive for social relationship and everyday life in contemporary societies.

Simone Natale is Senior Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies at Loughborough University, UK, and Assistant Editor of the journal Media, Culture & Society. He is the author of two monograph, Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture (Penn State University Press) and Deceitful Media: Artificial Intelligence and Social Life after the Turing Test (forthcoming with Oxford University Press).

AI Commons Workshop

December 6, 2019

This workshop seeks to develop a commons-based vision for the future of AI. To find out more, please click here.




Workshop: Designing Creative Voice Bots

by Nicole He

Thursday, October 3, 2019, 10 am – 12 p.m.

In this workshop, we’ll discuss the history of speech recognition and speech synthesis, learn the basics of conversational design, and then create our own creative voice bots. We’ll learn how to appropriate corporate technology to make experimental, strange, or subversive voice assistants.

Nicole He is a programmer and artist based in Brooklyn, New York, currently making videogames, including an upcoming sci-fi voice-controlled game with the National Film Board of Canada. She has worked as a creative technologist at Google Creative Lab, an outreach lead at Kickstarter, and an adjunct faculty member at ITP at NYU, where she received her Master’s degree. Nicole’s work has been featured in places such as Wired, BBC, The Outline, and The New York Times.