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On Monday, 9 November 2020, the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK), University College London and Camberwell College of Arts, London together with the Analysis and Research Department (DAO) of the Dutch Parliament were planning to bring together experts from across technology, philosophy, politics, journalism and creative practice for a virtual symposium. Issues addressed during three panel discussions, we supposed to focus on algorithmic bias, surveillance technologies, fake news, online privacy rights, speech and text generation, search engine censoring and post-feminist computing. The event was cancelled due to the turmoil that the Dutch art sector, art academies and KABK itself have endured in the weeks after the impactful media publications about inappropriate behavior.

Live broadcast via Youtube

Online Programme

11:00 – 11:10 CET, local time in the Netherlands
welcome by Marieke Schoenmakers (Director KABK)

11:10 – 11:20 CET, local time in the Netherlands
short introduction by Ramon Amaro, Sheena Calvert and Niels Schrader

11:30 – 13:00 CET, local time in the Netherlands

Law & Algorithmic Order
– presentations by Sophie Czich and Natalia Sliwinska (students MA Non Linear Narrative, KABK)
– Evelyn Austin (Bits of Freedom, Amsterdam)
– Bernard Keenan (Birkbeck University of London)

moderated by Sheena Calvert and Ramon Amaro

14:00 – 15:45 CET, local time in the Netherlands

Algorithmic Control
– presentations by Taya Reshetnik and Justine Corrijn (students MA Non Linear Narrative, KABK)
– Richard Rogers (University of Amsterdam)
– Ezekiel Dixon-Román (University of Pennsylvania)
– Jack Poulson (Tech Inquiry, Toronto)

moderated by Sheena Calvert and Ramon Amaro

16:00 – 17:30 CET, local time in the Netherlands

Aesthetics & Resistance
– presentations by Katie Pelikan Baselj and Marcin Liminowicz (students MA Non Linear Narrative, KABK)
– Helen Pritchard (University of Plymouth)
– André Brock (School of Literature, Media and Communication, Atlanta)

moderated by Sheena Calvert and Ramon Amaro

17:30 – 17:45 CET, local time in the Netherlands
wrap up by Ramon Amaro, Sheena Calvert and Niels Schrader

Biographies Speakers

Evelyn Austin, Bits of Freedom, Amsterdam
Evelyn Austin is the Executive Director of Bits of Freedom, the leading Dutch digital rights organisation. Bits of Freedom believes an open and just society is only possible when people can participate in public life without fear of repercussions. The right to privacy and the freedom of expression are at the core of this. Bits of Freedom fights for these fundamental rights by contributing to developing strong legislation, by championing the emancipatory potential of the internet, and by holding those in power to account. Austin is the co-founder of digital cultures platform The Hmm, and she sits on the advisory board of the Creative Industries Fund’s Digital Culture programme.

André Brock, School of Literature, Media and Communication, Atlanta
André Brock is an associate professor of media studies at Georgia Tech. He writes on Western technoculture, Black technoculture, and digital media. His scholarship examines Black and white representations in social media, videogames, weblogs, and other digital media. He has also published influential research on digital research methods. Brock’s first book, titled Distributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures, was published with NYU Press in 2020 and theorizes Black everyday lives mediated by networked technologies.

Ezekiel Dixon-Román, University of Pennsylvania
Ezekiel Dixon-Román is Associate Professor and Director of the Master of Science in Social Policy Programme, and Chair of the Data Analytics for Social Policy Certificate of the Masters of Science in Social Policy Programme at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the Penn Director of the Institute in Critical Quantitative, Computational, & Mixed Methodologies and founded and co-directs the initiative on culture, society, and critical policy studies. Dixon-Román is the author of the award-winning Inheriting Possibility: Social Reproduction and Quantification in Education (University of Minnesota Press, 2017) and is guest editor of the forthcoming Periscope in Social Text Online on ’Control Societies @30: Technopolitical Forces & Ontologies of Difference’.

Bernard Keenan, Birkbeck, University of London
Bernard Keenan is a lecturer in law at Birkbeck College, University of London. His teaching and research take a critical approach to the changing relationship between law and technology with a particular focus on security, and he is currently preparing a book on the media archaeology of communication surveillance. Keenan is a former immigration solicitor and has appeared on UK television and radio commenting on cryptography, secrecy in the courts, and immigration policy.

Jack Poulson, Tech Inquiry, Toronto
As one of Google’s Senior Research Scientists, Jack Poulson campaigned to hold the company to account for the design, development, and planned deployment of the Chinese search engine prototype Google Dragonfly. In addition to providing the ability to track Chinese citizens’ queries with their phone numbers, this would have censored information on human rights, political organizing, government officials, and even the Nobel Prize. After Poulson’s management chain refused to clarify Google’s red lines on international censorship and surveillance, he publicly resigned from the company. He then founded Tech Inquiry, a non-profit providing pro-bono algorithmic and policy consultation available to government officials and other non-profits. Tech Inquiry aims to make it easier for coders with a conscience to speak out inside their companies when they feel ethical boundaries are being crossed. Before joining Google, Poulson was an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University.

Helen Pritchard, i-DAT, University of Plymouth
Helen Pritchard is an Associate Professor of Queer Feminist Technoscience & Digital Design at i-DAT, University of Plymouth. As an artist and geographer Pritchard’s interdisciplinary work brings together the fields of Computational Aesthetics, Geography, Design, and Feminist TechnoScience. Her practice includes both writing and making, and these two modes mutually inform each other in order to consider the impact of computational practices on engagement with environments. Central to her work is also the consideration of co-research, participation, and environmental practices. Recently, Pritchard co-edited Data Browser 06: Executing Practices (Open Humanities Press 2018).

Richard Rogers, University of Amsterdam
Richard Rogers is Professor of New Media & Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam. He is Director of the Digital Methods Initiative, one of Europe’s leading centres for Internet Studies that develops techniques for ‘natively digital’ research. Among other works, Rogers is author of Information Politics on the Web (MIT Press, 2004), awarded the best book of the year by the American Society of Information Science & Technology and Digital Methods (MIT Press, 2013), awarded Outstanding Book of the Year from the International Communication Association. Rogers is a three-time Ford Fellow and completed recently a study on ‘fake news’, commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Biographies Initiators

Ramon Amaro, University College London
Ramon Amaro is Lecturer in Art and Visual Culture of the Global South at UCL, History of Art Department. Amaro’s research and writings confront the racial logics of computation, namely in machine learning research, mathematics and the philosophy of engineering. His forthcoming monograph, Machine Learning, Sociogeny and the Substance of Race (Sternberg / MIT, 2021) explores the history of bioepistemics and the impact of racial classification on our contemporary understanding of machine perception and algorithmic decision-making. Amaro completed his PhD in Philosophy at Goldsmiths, University of London, while holding a Masters degree in Sociological Research from the University of Essex and a BSe in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is a former Research Fellow in Digital Culture at Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam and former visiting tutor in Media Theory at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK). He is also co-founder of Queer Computing Consortium (QCC), which investigates the role of language in computational systems, and its impact on locally embedded community practices.

Sheena Calvert, Camberwell College of Arts (CCW / University of the Arts London)
Sheena Calvert is a philosopher / artist / designer. She has an active interest in the intersections between a wide range of creative disciplines, including practices ranging from typography and experimental book-works, to works involving sound / performance. She is particularly concerned with exploring the implications of emergent language-based technologies, particularly developments in ‘natural’ languages, as a specific sub-set of Artificial Intelligence. Her background in philosophy of language, political philosophy, and ethics provides a critical framework for these investigations. These concerns form a larger body of theory and practice-based research, entitled ‘metalanguage’. She is also co-founder of Queer Computing Consortium (QCC), which investigates the role of language in computational systems, and its impact on locally embedded community practices.

Niels Schrader, Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK)
Niels Schrader is a concept-driven information designer with a fascination for numbers and data. He is founder of the Amsterdam-based design studio Mind Design and co-head of the Graphic Design Department and Non Linear Narrative master programme at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. In his role as an educator Schrader focuses on social, political and environmental processes driven and influenced by digital technologies. For teaching, he teams up regularly with specialists from different disciplines and cultural backgrounds, such as programmers, architects, musicians, theoreticians, journalists, environmentalists and human rights activists. He is also co-founder of Queer Computing Consortium (QCC), which investigates the role of language in computational systems, and its impact on locally embedded community practices.