Meet the Bot, Feed the Bot

Meet the Bot, Feed the Bot
Symposium, 16 – 17 November, in cooperation with Time-based Media, Art University Linz

Bots as Disseminators of Disinformation
False reports and conspiracy theories – Fake News – have become a threat scenario for democracy since the US elections at the latest. Fake News is not entirely new – it has already been used in the past to maintain power relations or incite people. Although political discourse has been democratized through the Internet and especially through social media, at the same time propaganda, assertion of false facts, and conspiracy theories can also be faster and further disseminated in the same way. Automatized computer programs, so-called social bots, also contribute to this. On the one hand they can provide practical services, but on the other they can also spread fake news virally and amplify existing trends on the net. Users who advocate tabooed standpoints thus gain the feeling they are not alone with their controversial opinions.

Who are the authors of fake news and which interests are behind them?
How much influence does automatized news actually have?
How can social bots be revealed as disseminators of fake news?
How will we form our opinions in the future?
Do bots have a right to free speech?

The End of Chance, Deep Learning
Today’s computers are capable of collecting and analyzing incredible amounts of data. Following the AI winter of the 1980s and early 90s, when research on artificial intelligence (AI) stagnated, current developments seem to be evolving faster and faster: self-driving cars, digital assistants like Siri and Alexa, the Internet of Things, Google and its knowledge management. What we encounter in the digital world, and which is increasingly penetrating into our real lives, is no longer left up to chance, but has instead become part of an unfathomable algorithmic intelligence. Transhumanists believe that with the current development of artificial intelligence, the idea of immortality has become a realistic goal. In science and industry, people are busy teaching machines to learn by themselves and making them “intelligent”. With “Deep Learning” and artificial neural networks, this branch of AI is making tremendous progress. We want to discuss the opportunities, dangers and threats that this new technical revolution – as many call it – will bring with it, but we also want to examine the misunderstandings and fantasy ideas circulating in conjunction with artificial intelligence.

How does Deep Learning work?
Which goals are various players pursuing with this development?
Which interdisciplinary approaches are needed for the development of AI?
Which role do we ourselves play in training machines?
How can we teach machines moral and ethical behavior, when we are already failing in this as humans with different values?
How can the process of current developments be made transparent and how can society be involved in this process?

Stereotypes by Design
Humans have always had a tendency to anthropomorphize things and animals – we talk to cars, animals, appliances, and plants. The development of artificial intelligence has led to a proliferating new start-up scene. Digital assistants are booming and accompany our smart life. They have names, voices, and characters. Whether Siri, Alexa or Cortana, they all have a story. The humanization of software inevitably brings human prejudices and values into play – including gender roles. The machine is not neutral, but is instead embedded in social and political contexts and power relations.

What effects do “stereotypes by design” have on the idea of role models?
Which considerations are behind design decisions?
Is the argument valid that “female voices and characteristics sell better”?
How do we want software to interact with us?
What can software itself contribute to breaking down our prejudices and biases?

AI, Bots & Art
Along with the questions we develop within the framework of the symposium, we invite artists to share with us their explorations and investigations of artificial intelligence. These deal with the phenomena of data collection, the automatization of ideas, the deconstruction of power positions, investigative research, the poetry of machines, and much more.

Free open tools make it possible to realize projects outside the existing industry and thus actively take part in current discourse on the human-machine relationship.

A project by Valie Djordjevic & Us(c)hi Reiter,