Mirror mirror... - MA Digital Culture Expo 2018
Laurie Grove Baths
13/7 - 16/7/2018 10-7pm (Sun 10-4pm)
Private view - 12/7 6-9pm
Computer vision related processes like motion detection and facial recognition increasingly extend into daily life at the more personal points of interaction with technology. Digital/smartphone photography is mediated at the point of capture while images are subject to further automated processing if they are used on social media platforms. Similar methods are used in surveillance systems that form part of what are increasingly code reliant public spaces, and market research companies will now pay to install cameras in people’s homes to detect and capture interactions with particular products. In effect, the domestic presence of computer vision can be traced back further if you consider that the optical mouse was the first realised and most widely sold smart camera in existence (Belbachir, 2010).
It is important to understand the points at which we are detectable by devices and algorithms that are integral to the environments we are part of, so that they can be navigated with greater degrees of autonomy. OpenCV (Open Source Computer Vision Library) provides unique opportunities in this respect as it is as much geared towards learning as it is a leading resource used by companies, research groups and governmental bodies (Opencv.org, 2018). In this instance it has been used to develop introspective cybernetic systems that allow for real time interrogation and the figuring of black boxed processes through aesthetic experience.
Belbachir, A. (2010). Smart cameras. New York: Springer, pp.13-14.
Opencv.org. (2018). About - OpenCV library. [online] Available at: https://opencv.org/about.html [Accessed 18 Jun. 2018].
Digital technologies play an increasingly important role in our lives. It is hard to think of our daily routine without the support of digital tools, platforms, and infrastructures, such as mobile devices, the internet, or social networks. Beyond undeniable advantages, however, digital technologies also present potential risks - this has been highlighted in the past few years, following a series of events from the Snowden revelations of 2013 to the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Most often, digital technologies enter our lives as black boxes. We rely on them while still knowing little about their logic. Their internal mechanism, the so-called algorithm, remains hidden as well as the interests that these technologies might be protecting and the biases they might be reinforcing. One could argue that technology has to be as open and transparent as possible for it to remain at the service of society. Similarly, it could be argued that we, as a society, should maintain a good understanding of technology and that this understanding, this form of digital literacy, is crucial for the development of a digital democracy.
Over the course of the past year I have been involved in the organisation of a series of monthly events on the themes of technology, privacy, and digital-rights. The events follow an existing format, called CryptoParty, and consist of workshops, open discussions, and talks. CryptoParties are free and open to everyone. A twelve-month party is a brief documentation of my experience as a CryptoParty organiser and, more generally, as a London-based digital-rights campaigner.