Tag: technology

Lonely Planet Looking for Connection: Citizen Science SETI Research at NASA

NASA’s homepage is as glitzy as you would expect of the U.S. Government’s sexiest administration. Glossy pictures of nebulas, astronauts, and asteroids float across the top of the page and even the ozone hole over Antarctica manages to look like a snack. A quick swipe over to the Citizen Science Page, however, and now the images give enthusiastic, low-res, DIY vibes coupled with pun-filled project titles like “Aurorasaurous” and “Spiritacular.” Each one beckons: anyone with a cellphone or a laptop can do this project. A Jacob’s Ladder of binary stretching into the blurry heavens stops my scroll with its provoking title—Are we alone in the universe? Well golly, I don’t know. Go to Project Website. So I do. (read more...)

On Algorithmic Divination

Algorithms are tools of divination. Like cowry shells, scapular bones, or spiders trapped under a pot, algorithms are marshaled to detect and relay invisible patterns; to bring to light a truth which is out there, but which cannot ordinarily be seen. At the outset, we imagine divination is a means to answer questions, whether in diagnosis of past events or for the prediction and guidance of future outcomes, choices or actions (Ascher 2002, 5). Yet, divination has an equally potent capacity to absorb the burdens of responsibility, to refigure accountability and, in so doing, to liberate certain paths of social action. (read more...)

How to Imagine the Unknown: Choosing an Arm Prosthesis

When amputation happens, it is an un-ignorable event. After the surgery, the person learns how to be an amputee, they learn to conceptualize their altered body. This work belongs to the inner world of the amputee, their bodily experience, and to the attitudes and environment around them. Many amputees will adopt a prosthesis. However, the journey of choosing, training on, and incorporating a prosthesis into one’s practice and identity requires the amputee to imagine future bodily experiences and knowledge. Much of this imagining happens in unfamiliar and mediated settings: in doctors’ offices that are also hi-tech device shops, or in meetings with other prosthesis users. (read more...)

Making Companion Species at a Robotics Lab

I spent many a warm summer day holed up inside a robotics laboratory, analyzing various datasets for my Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) research project. The room was often dark and the windows were small. My desk, located in the left corner furthest from the entrance, rarely received any sunlight. On several days, the lab would be empty. I’d be left with nothing but the company of browning tube lights, dangling cables and wires, and robots used in the lab’s Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) experiments. (read more...)

AI as a Feminist Issue

By choosing to look at the funding from the American Government on this field, I aim to tell a different story about AI. A quick search for the word “librarian” on Google reveals images upon images of women holding books amongst big shelves, attending to patrons, reading stories for children, or stocking book shelves. Librarian is one of those professions that, like many others, such as nurse and secretary, have been associated with the female world.  If this text is about AI, you might be asking why I’m writing about libraries and librarians–but as scholars Safyia Noble (2018) in her Algorithms of Oppression and Monica Westin (2023) more recently have shown, what most people in Western countries usually understand as the internet, and what fuels the data collection of digital information that feeds generative artificial intelligence (AI) such as ChatGPT, was first started in the 1970s by groups of librarians (read more...)

AI, Climate Adaptation, and Epistemic Injustice

Amid global climate impacts, vulnerable communities—including indigenous peoples, farmers, fisherfolk, ​​and low-income groups—are frequently expected to adapt, change, and build resilience to uncertain climatic futures. ​​Under these changing conditions, what knowledge practices and frameworks should guide the decision-making of vulnerable communities in addressing climate challenges? What knowledge sources and perspectives should be considered when developing resilience policies and plans, from the supranational to the local level? (read more...)

A Vocabulary for Junk in Four Movements

It was really a miracle that he was able to function. He had accumulated so much shit, it was starting to get concerning, or would have, if there had been anyone to be concerned. As it was, all he was, was being practical. Weirdos hoard shit for god knows what reasons but he was keeping a collection of spares. Admittedly, there was a tight line one approaches when one, for example, collects spares for other spares or if you’re missing the very thing to donate parts for in the first place. But he was aware of that. Each time a new thing came into the house, he would reflect on that line. It was a dotted line, like those where you’d put your signature or tear along. Which one it was, that’s an open discourse, to be negotiated anew. As of right now, there was a more practical concern. The (read more...)

A Failure in Capture: An Experiment in Multimodal Interactive Ethnography where ‘Nothing Happens’

The video below this text is interactive. To view, click play and follow the instructions you see on the screen. As you watch, look for areas that you can click with a mouse (or tap with your finger, if on a mobile device) or see what appears when you mouse over different areas of the image at different times. What do you see? This multimodal content, due to technological limitations, may not be accessible to all. If the multimodal experience is not accessible to you, please visit the text based version for visual and audio descriptions and full-text transcription or listen to the audio narration: Audio Narration by Kara White On mobile devices, we suggest viewing the page in landscape mode and selecting “Distraction Free Reading” in the top-right corner. This is an interactive video. This video is designed to get the viewer or reader to “search” the image for (read more...)