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futuribile / curating futures - Issue #40 What is the vision?

futuribile / curating futures
futuribile / curating futures - Issue #40 What is the vision?
By Marta Arniani • Issue #40 • View online
The release of the proposal AI regulation by the European Commission has been “welcomed” by a general predictable “thank you guys, but” about its effectiveness for guaranteeing civil rights. Meanwhile, on the ground, each European state deals with the “social externalities” of AI (and thus personal data gathering) in its own way: sometimes denying them (like in the Dutch strategy to fight Covid with Palantir) and sometimes with a posteriori law acts (see Italy blocking real-time face recognition below). When, as in the new proposal, the obligations entail self-evaluation from the side of “high risk” AI systems providers, we have a playground for arbitrary box-ticking exercises. Moreover, compliance requires resources to be carried out: it is as if the competition was moved from service to legal capacity and turnover, with a competitive advantage for big players. 
The elephant in the room is public procurement. How to equip and regulate public administrations so that they can select providers responsibly and transparently? Which values and power dynamics are reflected in the legacy infrastructure that these services are plugged into? Regulating AI towards equality is also a matter of embodying a sensitivity for the commons into PA digital literacy and technical enablers.
Marta Arniani

Signal wanted to use Instagram ads to highlight how ad tech invades your privacy, but Facebook shut their account down. Nice try.
Signal wanted to use Instagram ads to highlight how ad tech invades your privacy, but Facebook shut their account down. Nice try.
Biometrics and the city
Explicit ban. A group of 40 members of the European Parliament asked the European Commission for a clear ban on biometric mass surveillance in public spaces, and on the automated recognition of people’s sensitive characteristics, such as gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity. Their poignant claim: “Such practices reduce the complexity of human existence into a series of clumsy, binary check-boxes, and risk perpetuating many forms of discrimination” reminds me of a Transmediale panel I hosted in Berlin a long time ago, in a nomadic galaxy far, far away.
Security in public spaces. In her comprehensive report about new surveillance technologies in public spaces, colleague and friend Caroline Lequesne Roth outlines a series of legislative recommendations to define better and manage biometric data legal definition. A proactive way to move forward.
Real-time tua madre. The Italian data protection authority blocked the real-time facial recognition system Sari Real Time used by national police. Key passage: “the identification of a person would be carried out through the processing of the biometric data of all those present in the monitored space, in order to generate patterns comparable with those of the subjects included in the ‘watch-list’. This would lead to an evolution in the very nature of surveillance activity, marking a shift from targeted surveillance of certain individuals to the possibility of universal surveillance.” 🤌
Lori Flores
So apparently @Blackboard is using my photo (without my consent) as a fictional “Professor Diaz” on their Ultra preview? What, did they Google image search “Latina Professor”? I know I’m good looking but am pretty disturbed by this, on multiple levels.
Geology and smartphones
Deep time design thinking. How to integrate planetary concerns in technology design? These researchers propose to look at human-computer interaction from the perspective of deep time - the appraisal of multiple timescales (see also issue #36 for deep time analogies).  By doing so, the design of human interaction with connected objects extends beyond the “here and now” of traditional user experiences to integrate a post-humanist sensibility and ecologic concerns in technology design. 🤓
Follow the Lithium. In an excerpt of her new book Atlas of AI, Kate Crawford reflects on how the new extractivism of data mining encompasses and propels the old extractivism of traditional minerals mining. 
/// The Green Pages: a crowdsourced directory of resources to design sustainable, low-carbon websites, apps, and digital advertising campaigns. 🌱
/// The crypto/blockchain space is largely dominated by right-wing ideology and economic assumptions. Breadchain is a loose organisation of blockchain or DLT (distributed ledger technology) based projects wanting to demonstrate that an alternative, more cooperative framework is possible.
/// The co-founder of Anaconda reflects on the results of their State of Data Science survey: what’s often overlooked is the role that storytelling plays in extracting real value from data.
/// audit (n) - A review that you pay someone else to do of your company or AI system so that you appear more transparent without needing to change anything.” - find other definitions in Big Tech’s guide to talking about AI ethics.
/// You know what the world’s fastest growing (200 million new customers in 2020, 788.4 million annual active buyers) online marketplace does? Facilitating direct sales by small-scale farmers to consumers. 🐓
Oh, dear!
Abeba Birhane
please forgive me, I was forced to read papers around "AI for Africa" today
That’s all for this monthly tour of tech discovery under a socio-cultural lens. Share online and forward to support my work, hit reply for feedback.
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Marta Arniani

A monthly newsletter at the intersection of technology innovation and social justice. Insights and news about technology impacts on society and how society can strike back.

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