Session 9: Living Data and AI

Tivon Rice. Models for Environmental Literacy

How do we (as children and as adults) learn about the natural environment? At school? Through our direct encounters with nature? Through mediated forms of communication – television, cinema, the internet? How do we build our individual environmental literacy?

With recent technical and critical attention given to artificial intelligence, a similar set of questions may also be asked of non-human agents. How, and why, are machines made to control natural environments? To what degree can a machine perceive a landscape, drawing upon data rather than lived experiences? And can our observation of this machine perception allow us to reflect upon human nature, our individual understanding of the environment, as well as non-anthropocentric ecological perspectives?

With Models for Environmental Literacy, I address these questions by generating three large datasets of ecologically concerned literature – including fiction, philosophy, and scientific texts – which create distinct, yet correlated computer voices for an environmentally literate machine intelligence. These AI-generated narrative texts then provide the scaffolding for a new series of experimental animated films about environments at the boundaries of ecological change: an archipelago of small islands in the northern Baltic, an estuary overcome by toxic algae, and a perfectly circular artificial island in the Netherlands.

Tivon Rice is an artist and educator working across visual culture and technology. Based in Den Haag (NL) and Seattle (US), his work critically explores representation and communication in the context of digital culture and asks: how do we see, inhabit, feel, and talk about these new forms of exchange? How do we approach creativity within the digital? What are the poetics, narratives, and visual languages inherent in new information technologies? And what are the social and environmental impacts of these systems?

Rice holds a PhD in Digital Art and Experimental Media from the University of Washington. He was a Fulbright scholar (Korea 2012), and one of the first individuals to collaborate with Google Artists + Machine Intelligence. His projects have traveled widely with exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, Taipei, Amsterdam, London, Berlin, and São Paulo.


Eva Sjuve. The New Metopia: Operations on Xenotemporalities in Environmental data as Sonorous Phenomena

Through artistic practice, latent behaviors and dynamics in ecosystems are made perceivable by visual or sonic means of environmental data. In this paper, I discuss the need for experimental sensory models, to critically investigate ecologies and systems and the anthropocentric perspective from which we are designing these systems. At the same time, there is a need to question infrastructures and policies, and the lack thereof, as a form of resistance, to find new strategies for artistic practice and design thinking, to decondition current outdated models and update these.

This paper discusses aspects of operation on Xenotemporalities from environmental and toxic data as sonorous phenomena in the artistic project Metopia, addressing questions such as strategies in designing with multiple time-scales in the creation of sonic works through the experimental use of data and machine learning. The operations on environmental data for sensory experience are discussed with the writing of Gilbert Simondon, and Henri Bergson in mind, both Simondon’s notion of the disjunction between technicity and the magical world, and Bergson’s philosophy of duration.

Eva Sjuve is a media artist working with new technologies and urban spaces. Her most recent work is Metopia, a series of sonifications of environmental data using custom built interfaces with machine learning. Her work has been included in exhibits, including Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland; CAEIT Experiments in Art, Information and Technology, CalArts, USA; The Museum of Contemporary Arts, Chicago; and the City Exhibition Hall, Sydney. Her research has been presented at conferences such as International Computer Music Conference ICMC 16/18, Hybrid City 13, Live Interfaces 12, Designing Interactive Systems (DIS) 12, MediaCity 10, Creativity & Cognition 09 (ACM), ISEA 08/14/15/16/19, NIME 08, LAC 08, Auditory Cultures 07 and many more. Website is located at,


Adnan Hadziselimovic. Machine Learning and Environmental Justice

In order to lay the foundations for a discussion around the argument that the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies benefits the powerful few, focussing on their own existential concerns, exploiting the environment, the paper will narrow down the analysis of the argument to environmental justice and jurisprudence (i.e. the philosophy of law), considering also the historical context. The talk is based on the paper which explores the notion of humanised artificial intelligence in order to discuss potential challenges society might face in the future. The paper does not discuss current forms and applications of artificial intelligence, as, so far, there is no AI technology, which is self-conscious and self-aware, being able to deal with emotional and social intelligence. It is a discussion around AI as a speculative hypothetical entity. One could ask, if such a speculative self-conscious hardware/software system were created at what point could one talk of personhood? And what criteria could there be in order to say an AI system was capable of committing AI environmental crimes?

The paper will discuss the construction of the legal system through the lens of political involvement of what one may want to consider to be powerful elites. Before discussing these aspects the paper will clarify the notion of “powerful elites”. In doing so the paper will be demonstrating that it is difficult to prove that the adoption of AI technologies is undertaken in a way which mainly serves a powerful class in society. Nevertheless, analysing the culture around AI technologies with regard to the nature of law with a philosophical and sociological focus enables one to demonstrate a utilitarian and authoritarian trend in the adoption of AI technologies

The paper will then look, in a more detailed manner, into theories analysing the historical and social systematisation, or one may say disposition, of laws, and the impingement of neo-liberal tendencies upon the adoption of AI technologies. The regulatory, self-governing potential of AI algorithms and the justification by authority of the current adoption of AI technologies within civil society will be analysed next. The paper will propose an alternative, some might say practically unattainable, approach to the current legal system by looking into restorative justice for AI environmental crimes, and how the ethics of care, through social contracts, could be applied to AI technologies. In conclusion the paper will discuss affect and humanised artificial intelligence with regards to the emotion of shame, when dealing with AI crimes.

Adnan Hadzi is currently working as resident academic in the Department of Digital Arts, at the Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences, University of Malta. Hadzi has been a regular at Deckspace Media Lab, for the last decade, a period over which he has developed his research at Goldsmiths, University of London, based on his work with Deptford.TV. It is a collaborative video editing service hosted in Deckspace’s racks, based on free and open source software, compiled into a unique suite of blog, film database and compositing tools. Hadzi is co-editing and producing the video book, exploring video as theory, reflecting upon networked video, as it profoundly re-shapes medial patterns (Youtube, citizen journalism, video surveillance etc.). A thorough multi-faceted critique of media images that takes up perspectives from practitioners, theoreticians, sociologists, programmers and artists, presenting a publication which reflects upon video theoretically. Hadzi’s documentary film work tracks artist pranksters The Yes Men and ! Mediengruppe Bitnik Collective. Bitnik is a collective of contemporary artists working on and with the Internet. Bitnik’s practice expands from the digital to affect physical spaces, often intentionally applying loss of control to challenge established structures and mechanisms. Bitnik’s works formulate fundamental questions concerning contemporary issues.


Jakub ‘Preppikoma’ Palm. Sandboxing the Ecosphere: On Meeting the Forecasting Needs of a Superlect

Ray Kurzweil and other transhumanists advocate for using bio- and nanotechnological breakthroughs to scan—at the molecular level—all the processes occurring in one’s organism to make a digital copy of their personality thus enabling it to be uploaded to a body sporting no protein vulnerabilities. This process might require help from a superlect (i.e. superintelligence in the Bostromian sense).

Such being might undertake a similar scanning enterprise for acquiring data of all objects from its surroundings. This might be driven by epistemic needs—to maximise its knowledge about the universe, about how it ‘manifests’ itself bottom-up (from the sub-atomic level upwards); moreover, the more data it gathers, the better simulations it produces and thus forecasts better. As it is currently hypothesised, a superlect might strive for becoming a computronium, which begets optimisation of its resources, properties of structure, etc. In order to achieve greater comprehension of the universe, higher computation power might be needed, and this would be obtained via assimilating other objects to the computronium.

Futurological scenarios concerning the possible relation between superlect and ecosphere are to be presented, based upon the former’s initial need for ecospheric data, and its subsequent perception of the latter as purposeless.

Jakub ‘Preppikoma’ Palm is a philosophy PhD student that deals with intersections of philosophy of technology, futurology, epistemology, and utilitarianism. MA theses on technological singularity (in philosophy) and on open access to information (in history). ‘Mediated Environments: New Humanities Practices in Transdisciplinary Research’ NPRH grant researcher. Board Member and Regional Coordinator at Polish Transhumanist Association, Collective Intelligence Specialist at Swarmcheck, Member of Optimum Pareto Foundation, Member of Grupa Robocza collective. Initiator of PhilosophyCon: Fan Convention and Academic Conference cycle, co-creator of #biohackingkrk event series. Main purpose: contribution to development of epistemically-oriented superintelligence.