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Participants: Derya Akbaba * Ben Allen * Natalia-Rozalia Avlona * Kirill Azernyi * Erin Kathleen Bahl * Natasha Bajc * Lucas Bang * Tully Barnett * Ivette Bayo * Eamonn Bell * John Bell * kiki benzon * Liat Berdugo * Kathi Berens * David Berry * Jeffrey Binder * Philip Borenstein * Gregory Bringman * Sophia Brueckner * Iris Bull * Zara Burton * Evan Buswell * Ashleigh Cassemere-Stanfield * Brooke Cheng* Alm Chung * Jordan Clapper * Lia Coleman * Imani Cooper * David Cuartielles * Edward de Jong * Pierre Depaz * James Dobson * Quinn Dombrowski * Amanda Du Preez * Tristan Espinoza * Emily Esten * Meredith Finkelstein * Caitlin Fisher * Luke Fischbeck * Leonardo Flores * Laura Foster * Federica Frabetti * Jorge Franco * Dargan Frierson * Arianna Gass * Marshall Gillson * Jan Grant * Rosi Grillmair * Ben Grosser * E.L. (Eloisa) Guerrero * Yan Guo * Saksham Gupta * Juan Gutierrez * Gottfried Haider * Nabil Hassein * Chengbo He * Brian Heim * Alexis Herrera * Paul Hertz * shawné michaelain holloway * Stefka Hristova * Simon Hutchinson * Mai Ibrahim * Bryce Jackson * Matt James * Joey Jones * Masood Kamandy * Steve Klabnik * Goda Klumbyte * Rebecca Koeser * achim koh * Julia Kott * James Larkby-Lahet * Milton Laufer * Ryan Leach * Clarissa Lee * Zizi Li * Lilian Liang * Keara Lightning * Chris Lindgren * Xiao Liu * Paloma Lopez * Tina Lumbis * Ana Malagon * Allie Martin * Angelica Martinez * Alex McLean * Chandler McWilliams * Sedaghat Payam Mehdy * Chelsea Miya * Uttamasha Monjoree * Nick Montfort * Stephanie Morillo * Ronald Morrison * Anna Nacher * Maxwell Neely-Cohen * Gutierrez Nicholaus * David Nunez * Jooyoung Oh * Mace Ojala * Alexi Orchard * Steven Oscherwitz * Bomani Oseni McClendon * Kirsten Ostherr * Julia Polyck-O'Neill * Andrew Plotkin * Preeti Raghunath * Nupoor Ranade * Neha Ravella * Amit Ray * David Rieder * Omar Rizwan * Barry Rountree * Jamal Russell * Andy Rutkowski * samara sallam * Mark Sample * Zehra Sayed * Kalila Shapiro * Renee Shelby * Po-Jen Shih * Nick Silcox * Patricia Silva * Lyle Skains * Winnie Soon * Claire Stanford * Samara Hayley Steele * Morillo Stephanie * Brasanac Tea * Denise Thwaites * Yiyu Tian * Lesia Tkacz * Fereshteh Toosi * Alejandra Trejo Rodriguez * Álvaro Triana * Job van der Zwan * Frances Van Scoy * Dan Verständig * Roshan Vid * Yohanna Waliya * Sam Walkow * Kuan Wang * Laurie Waxman * Jacque Wernimont * Jessica Westbrook * Zach Whalen * Shelby Wilson * Avery J. Wiscomb * Grant Wythoff * Cy X * Hamed Yaghoobian * Katherine Ye * Jia Yu * Nikoleta Zampaki * Bret Zawilski * Jared Zeiders * Kevin Zhang * Jessica Zhou * Shuxuan Zhou

Guests: Kayla Adams * Sophia Beall * Daisy Bell * Hope Carpenter * Dimitrios Chavouzis * Esha Chekuri * Tucker Craig * Alec Fisher * Abigail Floyd * Thomas Forman * Emily Fuesler * Luke Greenwood * Jose Guaraco * Angelina Gurrola * Chandler Guzman * Max Li * Dede Louis * Caroline Macaulay * Natasha Mandi * Joseph Masters * Madeleine Page * Mahira Raihan * Emily Redler * Samuel Slattery * Lucy Smith * Tim Smith * Danielle Takahashi * Jarman Taylor * Alto Tutar * Savanna Vest * Ariana Wasret * Kristin Wong * Helen Yang * Katherine Yang * Renee Ye * Kris Yuan * Mei Zhang
Coordinated by Mark Marino (USC), Jeremy Douglass (UCSB), and Zach Mann (USC). Sponsored by the Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab (USC), and the Digital Arts and Humanities Commons (UCSB).

Code Critique: Feminist decolonial, Indigenous, and queer STS Approaches to AI and the Human

Much of my work is at the nexus of feminist decolonial, Indigenous, and queer STS; African studies; and socio-legal studies. We are currently working on a project that conducts a discourse analysis of how media sources directed at and by audiences across the continent of Africa are articulating and giving meaning to technologies of artificial intelligence and machine-learning. In reading across several sets of literature for this project, I have been considering two questions:

  1. How does the field of critical code studies draw upon and diverge from feminist decolonial, Indigenous, and queer STS? I wonder what intellectual geneaologies are informing the "critical" in critical code studies?

  2. How might the study of source code enable new understandings of the human and the normative body, while also offering possbilities for building alternative ways of knowing and becoming?

In our research, we have found that media sources, as producers of culture, promote an understanding of AI technologies through a language of modernity and progress. For example, media sources promise that AI will be fast, efficient, productive, adaptable, certain, and precise. How does this inform our conceptions of what it means to be valued as human and/or devalued as less than human?

What would an alternative vision of AI technologies look like? Is it possible to imagine a more inclusive AI future with source code that enables slower movement, sideways thinking (Puar), queer use (Ahmed), situated knowledges (Haraway), queer failure (Halberstam)?

  • Laura


  • edited February 2020

    "How does this inform our conceptions of what it means to be valued as human and/or devalued as less than human?"
    The supremacy of human intelligence (in which I do not believe, I do not think humans are the most intelligent beings) has been measured by the human's ability to control the machine (plow, factory, algorythm) and increasingly, our humanity is growing to be measured by our ability to become at One with the machine. Embodiment is changing.

    The thing is that although embodiment changes, the rules around it most likely will retain existing power relations.

    Our social compass in the West has been centered around notions of Human Rights. Long before the UN formalized stipulations of Human Rights, this term was coined by a person of color, George Washington Williams, in a letter written in 1890 to King Leopold of Belgium, asking the King to cease the enslavement, murder, maiming, and labor malpractices happening in the "congo free state", Leopold's personal colony. It's one of the earliest examples we have of image leaks as we know it today; and one of the earliest examples of photographs changing policy (See Sealy Harris photography collection).

    So, when we talk about human value we are really talking about classifications of humans and what is ascribed to each classification. Bodies racialized as non-white were enslaved and exploited despite being as human as white aristocrats and kings. I'm bringing all this up because inevitably, hierarchies are formed and that is where I situate the beginning of any injustice. So, to question how humans are valued or devalued within a social superstructure that views AI as "fast, efficient, productive, adaptable, certain, and precise"—each of these are concepts/assessments based on a hierarchic structure. Can humans every escape hierarchic structures as a mode of relations?

    If we abandon the orders we know and form smaller groups of decentralized order based on shared affinities/goals/processes, will that increase or decrease how much value is ascribed to each human? Would this "break" from Dominant Order create an opportunity to define value outside of post-industrial/capitalistic value systems (fast, efficient, productive) or will it lessen our humanity, and lower our adaptability, our capacity for precision?

    Suggested reading regarding the Congo Free Reform: King Leopold's Ghost, Hochchild, 1999.

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