Returning to Graham Dove and Anne-Laure Fayard’s Monsters, Metaphors, and Machine Learning. The authors developed a hands-on workshop to materialize questions posed by machine learning. They introduced a series of ‘monster cards’ (see above) to help encourage reflection on designing with machine learning. Each monster is related through a brief description to an aspect of machine learning’s uncertainty and processes. Using this, participants map out their assumptions and concerns about these processes and later materialize them as a monster using everyday materials.
Digging into the history — and specific examples — of myths, magic and monsters, just as in Dove and Fayards’ workshop, offers really valuable metaphors for the strange and unsettling effects of everyday technology.
BIY or Believe it Yourself is a recent project by Automato.farm, presents a set of three belief-based computing kits. A critical but playful exploration is grounded in close work with experts in alternative belief systems like divination and fortune telling from different cultures to translate their knowledge authentically into digital forms. By digitizing divination practices, BIY empowers non-objective interpretation of the world through AI-powered microcontrollers; it offers a nuanced interchange between belief, explainability and systems. Not only does this suggest a process for critical production, but it highlights the broader potential for divination, superstition, and ritualistic practices to be embedded into new digital devices and critical prototypes.
Rather than mining superstitions or the supernatural as convenient tropes and metaphors (like magical wands in gestural computing), BIY suggests the value of reverently attend to the aesthetics, systems and cultures of these non-normative traditions and practices.
As part of this exercise you will be asked to:
Taking cues from Dove and Fayard (see above), investigate and report a historical analog (e.g. witch’s familiars, dowsing rods, ESP) that could be used to frame your project proposal.
Research that thing and report on your findings.
It should be succinctly and clearly summarized (no more than 200 words). It would be helpful to add links to related reading (an article describing it in more detail, a place to get more detail) so that other groups can benefit from your research too.
Most importantly, add a list of possible relationships to contemporary technology (just as Dove and Fayard do at the bottom of the monster card).
Some examples of historical analogs might include
Post in #projects with a ~100-150 word write up and a supporting image.