Track 05
Internet of things:
Dystopian Artificial Intelligence, Black Boxes.

Track chairs Alia Ghaddar (International University of Beirut), Fadi Yammout (International University of Beirut), Helena Nikonoli.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly integrated with the daily life real world. It is playing an essential role in the advancement of living spaces from smart buildings to smart cities. Beyond the current hype, IoT is undoubtedly affecting all sectors at a rapid pace: companies, industries, and the economy. This track looks to address the critical role that IoT plays in the next generation information and communication systems. The aim is to highlight the opportunities that IoT creates for new products, services, and business models and how people harness its potential (creating smarter products, delivering intelligent insights and providing new business outcomes).

AI technology merges with the IoT from smart thermostats to wearable healthcare devices to smart-camera and server for surveillance systems integrating AI face-recognition capable of detecting gender, age, and emotions. Every image uploaded to the internet is first seen by a machine’s eyes before human ones, we can say the same about many devices within the Internet of Things: many streams from IP-cameras are processed by machine vision: registered, analyzed, recognized, or even judged. And very soon, all content and information from the physical world captured by the ubiquitous IoT devices will be perceived by AI cloud processing. IoT is not a merely a step towards smart cozy houses and cities, but rather a means to gather data of our presence and actions in the physical world.

IoT and AI together become a potential new tool for algorithmic regulation. This track explores the IoT not only as Michel Foucault’s Panopticon but rather as a tool of biopolitics, a system of surveillance and control and a way of nudging citizens towards preferable behavior, instead of trying to understand and deal with the root causes of social problems.

The current impetus to ‘open the black box’ of contemporary machine learning has so far left unaddressed the timelier challenge of operationalizing the opacity of these systems. By investigating the modes of governmentality and cultural practices embedded in machine learning devices, this track will aim at reconstituting some of the conditions through which these systems perceive, classify, and operate upon the objects and subjects they engage with. As a way to trouble the cultural imaginaries around machine learning, this track will investigate the larger political aesthetics of the data practices at the heart of today’s digital infrastructures and cultures.

While first conceived by cyberneticists as a functional model of heterogeneous systems (Ashby 1956, Wiener 1948), the black box has become a key concept to account for opaque media objects including machine learning (Mackenzie 2017) and algorithms of all kinds (Bratton 2016). Behind the impetus to ‘open the black box’ (Latour 1987) however lurks the assumption that there is indeed something to be seen within these opaque systems, reinstating visual knowledge as the privileged way to know objects that otherwise resist visuality and representation (Chun 2011). The persistence of the black box as a theoretical concept thus calls for a larger investigation of the visual bias underpinning how opacity is conceived and operationalized in fields like algorithmic art, generative modeling, and media studies.

POM Beirut Tracks

(based on the call for topics)

Based on the first call for topics, the call is now open for individual submissions within the following tracks:

01.Track: Arab revolutions: Refugees, Communication technology, Mobile connectivity.
02.Track: Terrorism machines: Art production, Sociopolitical implications.
03.Track: Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0): Art, Cyberphysics, Automated creativity.
04.Track: The Battlefield of Vision: Perceptions of War and Wars on Perception.
05.Track: Internet of things: Dystopian Artificial Intelligence, Black Boxes.
06.Track: Living machines: Wars within living organisms.
07.Track: Artificial intelligence for art AIA: Computational creativity, Neural networks, Simulating human activity.
08.Track: Permanent Telesurveillance: Privacy, data protection, panopticon.
09.Track: The Politics of Evidence: Refugees, Frictions, Sound-representation.
10.Track: Body-politics of the machines: Troubles WITH/IN/OUT art, body, perception, politics, and technology.
11.Track: The Ecosystem Analogy: Machinery of Nature, Borrowed landscapes, Anthropology of the near.

Submission information

last updated January 8th, 2019

Notification of acceptance will be announced by the end of March 2019.

Individual proposals should consist of a 300-word abstract.

All submissions will be reviewed, according to the highest international academic standards.

Submitters should also upload a short bio file, no longer than a ½ page per person.

Please note that there will be a conference fee payable by all participants and delegates of the conference (Fees and packages will be announced in January 2019).

POM Beirut 2019 committees

last updated January 8th, 2019

POM Series executive committee
Dr. Morten SØNDERGAARD and Dr. Laura BELOFF.

POM Beirut 2019 Steering Committee
Dr. Morten SØNDERGAARD, Dr. Laura BELOFF, Dr. Hassan CHOUBASSI, Mr. Joe ELIAS, and Mrs. Sahar CHARARA.

POM Beirut 2019 Organizing Committee
Dr. Hassan CHOUBASSI, Mr. Joe ELIAS, Mrs. Sahar CHARARA, Dr. Fadi YAMMOUT, Dr. Walid RAAD, Ms. Fatima ABOU NASSIF, and Mr. Tarek Mourad.