Birgitte Aga & Coral Manton

A series of disobedient provocations for reclaiming future AI technologies

Conversational systems are driven by the commercial pursuit to humanise technology for efficient integration and economic gain. By capitalising on innovations in Machine Learning (ML) algorithms and oceans of data with a deep understanding of human nature, these ‘relational artefacts’ (Turkle, 1984, 2004) are optimised to fluidly integrate into our social worlds. The design and distribution of AI systems is veiled behind commercial patents and algorithmic complexities. This is a process the end consumers are largely left out of, rendered voiceless and powerless in the design of systems set to pervasively influence their life. With the ubiquitous integration of AI systems across society there is an urgency to move beyond efficient user experience design and system integration, towards a holistic understanding of the wider impact of these technologies on the thoughts, behaviour and actions of their users and society as a whole.

We will deliver a series of disobedient provocations for reclaiming future AI technologies through describing the Women Reclaiming AI project, a response to the pervasive lack of ethical design frameworks for commercial AI systems, compounded by limited transparency, ubiquitous authority, embedded bias and the absence of diversity in the development process.

About Birgitte & Coral

The work of artist-technologist-activist duo and SWCTN Fellows Birgitte Aga and Coral Manton manifests as collaborative workshops, events and installations aimed at (re)claiming conversational artificial intelligence (AI) systems as a medium for protest. It critiques the commercial pursuit of humanizing AI technologies and challenges the bias, stereotyping and pervasive influence embedded within. By activating the public, Aga and Manton re-write and re-imagine the cultural myths of AI and robotics, creating futures mediated by more inclusive technology.

Their most recent work is Women Reclaiming AI (2019), an expanding activist artwork, presented as a feminist AI voice assistant, programmed through workshops by a growing community of self-identifying women, and The Infinite Guide (2018), a speculative artwork and research project, powered by a conversational AI, (LSTM Recurrent Neural Net), trained on a biased and non-diverse data set.

Birgitte on Twitter: @birgitteaga

Coral on Twitter: @coral_manton