For the past 10 years, Mozilla Festival has been convening in London in a unique gathering that brings together technologists, activists, researchers, educators, artists, young people and many more people committed to creating an open and healthier internet.
Online platforms are important spaces that allow us to learn, get inspired, create, connect and collaborate. As we live and interact in online worlds as much as in the physical world, at the same time we have little understanding and control over the use, traces and impact of our online journeys. Many of these journeys are determined by algorithms that “curate” our experiences and content based on what they think we look for, want and like, based on our behaviours. For many people the internet equals the few powerful companies; the same ones that came to dominate it and transform into a giant data collection machine, mainly driven by advertising revenue.
From domestic, wearable and medical devices, social media activity, navigation and purchases, to media streaming and searches, online or offline, our online interactions describe a big part of our identity. How much does the internet know about us and how can we protect our privacy? Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and Internet of Things tools — already embedded in everyday life — have been present in internet-based applications, influencing and changing our interactions online and in society opening up new opportunities, but also bringing about many challenges.
These systems and tools have made many aspects of our lives more convenient; we have become accustomed to blindly depend on our virtual assistants, search engines, automated texting systems, navigation tools to name a few. From social networks and search engines to finance, law, policing, and more, AI in all of these areas has many issues and misuses, while our trust and dependence on invisible and complex systems like these has become normalised and unquestioned. AI tools have made possible and easy the creation and spread of deepfakes — human photo/video or audio synthesis using AI depicting a person saying something they have never said, or doing something they have never done — including fake news.
How much do we need to know in order to trust these systems? And how much choice or influence do we really have in highlighting the risks and fears around these or even shaping them?
Arts & Culture at MozFest 2019
It is questions like these that we have been asking at MozFest in the Arts & Culture space. We have been exploring how the arts offer meaningful contributions in the conversations around internet health and the impact of emerging technologies in society. We believe that artists enable critical conversations to happen and bring in diverse perspectives, enabling people to ask more questions and challenge privileged, one-dimensional, static systems.
This year, the Arts & Culture Experience brings together leading artists and thinkers to share their work and ideas through an exhibition, but also workshops and talks. Our theme for 2019, Trustworthy AI: Imagining Better Machine Decision Making, explores how machines are making decisions for us now, and what AI advances are on the horizon. The artworks in the Gallery and Salon show us that art can help shape emerging technologies, like Artificial Intelligence, for the better. It can create a platform and allow open and honest conversations about social and ethical implications, but also hopes for the future. It can help us imagine how we can have agency and play a central role in shaping these systems, rather than being a part of them, led by a handful of big corporations.
The Arts & Culture Experience includes an exhibition and programme of events as part of the annual Mozilla Festival, which is taking place from 21 to 27 October in London.
The Arts & Culture Experience is curated by Irini Papadimitriou, Caroline Sinders, Kai Landolt, Philo van Kemenade and Daniel Pett. Experience co-designed with Angela Plohman and Sarah Allen.
Participating artists: Mimi Onuoha, Mother Cyborg(Diana Nucera), Lauren McCarthy, Joy Buolamwini and Timnit Gebru, Joana Moll, COMUZI, Hyphen Labs, Caroline Sinders, Romy Gad el Rab, Jon Lloyd, Arvid&Marie, Noah Levenson, Egor Kraft, Tom Schofield, Anaïs Berck, Elvia Vasconcelos.