::fibreculture:: Automated Knowledge and Autonomous Publishing Infrastructures – Workshop

Ned Rossiter ned at nedrossiter.org
Tue Oct 24 07:49:09 CEST 2017

Automated Knowledge and Autonomous Publishing Infrastructures – Workshop
Digital Life Research Program
Institute for Culture and Society in collaboration with Australia-China
Institute for Arts and Culture, Western Sydney University
2-3 November 2017

Venue: Parramatta City Campus, 1PSQ, Level 8, Room 12
Organizers: Liam Magee and Ned Rossiter

The prospect of cognition outsourced to machines is a worry for many.
The automation of knowledge generation and AI-delivered modes of
teaching particularly afflicts those working in the university. For many
years academics have submitted to the political economy of publishing
industries for the trade-offs on offer: esteem and prestige, job
security, an outlet for intellectual expression, a basis for research
grant applications, and perhaps some sense of community. The horizon of
doom again raises questions of an existential kind, not least of which
hangs off a sense of futurity without purpose.

Purposelessness finds specific form with the rising spectre of machinic,
semi-automatic and theory-less knowledge. Examples of the
algorithmically-sourced journal article appear in numerous forms, from
the apparently benign reference lists curated through Google Scholar’s
indexing to machine learning-based inferencing that stretches from
method and findings to analysis and conclusions. Increasingly research
can meaningfully ask itself what parts of its canonical knowledge format
can the algorithm compute effectively? Is its automaticity itself a sign
of the journal article’s obsolescence?

As one example, Kosinski and Wang, two social psychologists from
Stanford, have applied machine learning, apparently with great success,
to the identification of sexuality among photos extracted from dating
websites.  Quite aside from the obvious dangers its conclusions imply,
the paper itself can be described as an “augmented reality” –  one in
which algorithms construct new links between the structure of faces and
sexual preference, a new phantasm or simulation of the “real,” minimally
“augmented” by contributions from human authors. It begs a return to
Freudian and Derridean concepts of unconscious or automatic writing,
with a terrifying new political spin. The algorithm identifies your
sexuality, and partly writes up its own findings. For now, astute review
can pick apart bias in its assumptions and interpretations. But the era
of machinic knowledge production and review is also clearly underway.

The cold sword of autonomous knowledge production devoid of the
all-too-human qualities of curiosity and doubt, elation and despair
adheres to the proliferation of machinic imaginaries. When facial
recognition technologies get airplay for their supposed capacity to
identify sexuality and our intellectual capabilities, it would seem we
have well and truly entered the augmented reality of control society. If
reality is determined by the fallacy of machine intelligence, then what
implications does this hold for knowledge generated out of the academy?

But might we also see this as an occasion to crystallize a politics of
autonomy? For writers, designers, scholars and theorists, this two-day
workshop explores how publishing infrastructures might reside at the
core of knowledge production predicated on the logic of an autonomous
commons. Indeed, how might we envisage something like an AI commons?
What are the parameters through which wild theory, for instance, might
be produced by the machine while we kick back with another glorious day
at the beach? And, more seriously, how might an automated commons guard
against data expropriation that increasingly defines extractivist
economies of the tech sector and university alike? In pursuing the
possibility of autonomous knowledge infrastructures, this workshop
advances a politics of collaborative constitution.

2 November
10.00–10.30am Welcome and Introduction
10.30–12.30pm Automating Knowledge and Invasive Apparatuses
12.30–1.30pm     Lunch
1.30–3.30pm       Open Knowledge Publishing
3.30–3.45pm       Tea/coffee
3.45–4.30pm       Summary panel

3 November
10.30–12.30pm Implementing New Knowledge Environments
12.30–1.30pm     Lunch
1.30–3.30pm       Knowledge Production and Autonomous Infrastructures
(Fibreculture Publications)
3.30–3.45pm       Tea/coffee
3.45–4.30pm       Closing panel and discussion

No registration fee required.

RSVP by 30 October: https://tinyurl.com/y9pfr3bl

Panel Summaries:
Automating Knowledge and Invasive Apparatuses
Drawing on political traditions and practices of autonomy, this panel
undertakes the work of translation to forge a connection with media of
expression. We introduce the concept autonomous media as an analytical
device and empirical condition that marks the arrival of computational
systems able to exert a form of sovereign authority over the
organization and management of society.

Liam Magee, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University
Ned Rossiter, Institute for Culture and Society/School of Humanities and
Communication Arts, WSU

Open Knowledge and Publishing
This panel looks at the evolving role of publishing in opening up the
access to and creation of knowledge in various contexts. Through the
examinations of digital publishing, open access, and literature
translation, the presentations interrogate the dynamics of publishing in
removing the socio-economic and intercultural barriers against the
growth and exchange of knowledge, as well as the political economy of
the initiatives. The panel further discusses what we mean by “open
knowledge” in the digital globalisation of publishing today.

Xiang Ren, Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture, Western
Sydney University
Lucy Montgomery, Centre for Culture and Technology (CCAT), Curtin University
Ivor Indyk, Centre for Writing and Society, Western Sydney University

Implementing New Knowledge Environments
The Digital Humanities Research Group is a member of the “Implementing
New Knowledge Environments” consortium: a collaborative group of
researchers based mainly in Canada focussed on networked open social
scholarship (http://inke.ca/). The activities of INKE include an “open
scholarship policy observatory”. In this panel we discuss the
implications of INKE for the digital humanities at large, and how
Australia can contribute a unique perspective to Canadian and global
discussions on new modes of scholarly knowledge production.

Rachel Hendery, Digital Humanities Research Group, Western Sydney University
Jason Ensor, Library, WSU
Hart Cohen, School of Humanities and Communication Arts/Institute for
Culture and Society, WSU

Knowledge Production and Autonomous Infrastructures (Fibreculture
Open access, online publishing finds itself “occupying” the “publishing”
of old. With this, it also challenges academic and more general research
practice. It would be great to say that this resonates with the like of
“Occupy Wall Street”. Yet OA and online publishing are also caught up in
what is literally a struggle over capital, institutions, and sovereign
territories. In this session, we will give short presentations on the
practical role of abstractions; the new research environment in which
students face “infinite knowledge”; and the politics of
identity/identifiers in academic practice.

Andrew Murphie, School of the Arts & Media, Centre for Modernism Studies
in Australia, UNSW
Mat Wall-Smith, Director of Learning, Polygon Door, Wollongong
Glen Fuller, Faculty of Arts & Design, University of Canberra

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