From Amazon’s Echo to Mattel's Hello Barbie, a troupe of devices fitted with quasi-intelligent listening software is invading our homes. Similar technologies are being developed and deployed across wild landscapes globally, holding promise for new conservation methods to monitor and protect our planet.
This proliferation of listening algorithms brings huge opportunities, but also anxieties. These new technological ‘prostheses’ promise new forms of listening and new ways of interacting with devices from phones and musical instruments to ecological monitoring stations, but also anxieties due to unaccountability -- these artificial intelligence software methods are notoriously opaque and so not only at times impenetrable, but unanswerable and unaccountable.
The development and deployment of new machine listening and learning tools in commercial IT industries is invariably driven by excitement at what is technically possible, but we also urgently need to critically consider what is socially desirable and epistemologically meaningful: What does it mean to listen through and with algorithms?
Inspired by the work of Lois Weaver, this Long Table discussion is a theatrical open-ended, non-hierarchical format for participatory debate. Speakers and audience switch places around a dinner table. In place of cutlery, coloured pens are provided to document discussions in drawing and/or writing on the table. Debate, dinner and theatre merge.
Anyone interested in the use of technology in contemporary culture and conservation