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Executions: Conversations on Code, Politics & Practice
April 28, 2016 @ 16:15 – 18:00
Medea Talks on April 28 with Femke Snelting and Susan Schuppli, as part of the Executions: Conversations on Code, Politics & Practice event.
Snelting and Schuppli will discuss why technology is still considered to be apolitical and if ethical decisions can be made by computers.
Talk No. 1: Modifying the Universal—An Interim Report
View Snelting’s presentation in the player embedded above (or on YouTube)
Do you remember when emoji characters were always yellow? Such was the situation until only a year ago. In 2014, after a public outcry against the perceived lack of diversity, the Unicode Consortium added five “Skin tone modifiers” to their set of emojis and considered the issue resolved.
Starting from the emoji standards debate, Femke Snelting (Constant)—in collaboration with Peggy Pierrot and Roel Roscam Abbing—will discuss how and why mainstream communication infrastructures promote universalist values and at the same time provide means for separating users along fault lines of race, gender and age. In considering what kind of interventions might be carried out in relation to this, the talk will be followed on the second day of the Executions event with a hands-on workshop in which participants will be able to experiment with the customization mechanisms that are already implemented in Unicode, seeing how one can subvert the universal from the inside and at the level of the code itself. As a possible outcome of the workshop participants could formulate a comment to the current proposal for new emoji mechanisms.
Talk No. 2: Computing the Law—Searching for Justice
See Schuppli’s presentation in the player embedded above (or on YouTube)
Is there a way in which the law might be understood as a computational, machine-like set of operations and protocols? Can the search for truth as an experimental form emerge out of an algorithmic-like set of coding practices—or does the realm of ethics remain forever incomputable?
Susan Schuppli (Goldsmiths University) will consider these questions by drawing on a comparison between two specific and contrasting examples of political forums in which the question of justice is at the fore: the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As seen in examples such as remote-controlled drone warfare and decisions to execute that are arrived at through data-aggregation, algorithms are not simply re-ordering the fundamental principles that govern our lives, but are also being tasked with providing alternate ethical arrangements derived out of new modes of reasoning that are increasingly computational. These are some of the questions that this talk aims to raise and which will be issues for further discussion in the open workshop on the second day.
Place: Hörsal B2, Niagara, Malmö University
Free of charge, but please sign up!
About the Executions event (April 28–30)
Executions: Conversations on Code, Politics & Practice investigates the implications of a world in which software and machines intervene and execute across an increasing range of contemporary life. The event brings together artists, programmers, curators, theorists and heavy internet browsers whose practices make critical interventions into various forms of codes (e.g. programming code, the codes of law, etc.) and their execution, bringing critical attention to their structures, processes and emergent potentials.
For full details of the event and how to take part, see the Executions event page. This event is organized by Critical Software Thing, a group of researchers with a common interest in exploring, reflecting on and working with code.