Virtual Futures presents a discussion on technologies of surveillance, the infringements on privacy by the state, restrictions of individual freedom and the mutation of identity.
Underlying the platforms that make digital communication possible are massive stealth efforts in social profiling. This reality has become passively accepted by a user base who are sold the promise of personalisation and customisation in exchange for allowing increased data extraction and analysis.
Corporations target social life itself, aiming to monitor their users ever more effectively and regulate certain types of action. As identity, social interaction and profit overlap it threatens core human values such as freedom and privacy, as well as posing new ontological questions concerning what constitutes identity.
Join an artist who has been described as ‘a disciplined advocate of a transgressive social and political anarchy,’ a professor who is exploring the impact of digital media on society and politics, a journalist who specialises in privacy, and an expert on corporate data monopolies to discover how we might develop a toolset for escaping the ever-intensifying surveillance and monitoring of our society.
Heath Bunting, Artist
Heath Bunting is known as an early practitioner of the net.art movement. As his online biography reports, “He is banned for life from entering the USA for his anti-genetic and border crossing work. He has had multiple works of art censored and permanently deleted (including all copies and backups) by the UK security services.
He has had an artwork exploded by the SAS and is prevented from talking about this in public. He has been detained, arrested multiple times and classified as a terrorist by UK security services for his art projects. He is subject to constant global state and corporate hostile interventions. He is denied full access to the internet and is almost constantly unemployed as a result of being politically blacklisted. In an environment where the UK Ministry of Defence can publicly state that their primary global adversary is the non-state individual artist, he now produces his art projects securely and in secret.
He has been approached by both state and corporate security organisations on several occasions, but mostly declined these offers of work, especially when it involved the assassination of social justice activists. His main work, The Status Project, involves using artificial intelligence to search for artificial life in societal systems. Aside from this, he is currently training artists in security and survival techniques so they can out-live organised crime networks in the forest during the final crisis.
Prof. David Berry, Co-Director of the Sussex Humanities Lab and the Research Centre for Digital Materiality, University of Sussex (@BerryDM)
Prof. Berry researches the theoretical and medium-specific challenges of understanding digital and computational media, particularly algorithms, software and code. His work draws on critical theory, political economy, medium theory, software studies, and the philosophy of technology.
Heath Bunting, Artist
Early practitioner of the net.art movement.
Wendy M. Grossman, Technology Journalist (@wendyg)
Freelance technology writer specializing in computers, freedom, and privacy. She has written for the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, Scientific American, New Scientist, Infosecurity Magazine, and Wired, and was the 2013 winner of the Enigma award for lifetime achievements.
Roger Taylor, Chair, Open Public Services Network (@RTaylorOpenData)
Roger Taylor is an entrepreneur, regulator and writer. He is chair of Ofqual, the qualifications regulator, and works with The Careers & Enterprise Company on the use of technology and data in career decisions. He has written two books: God Bless the NHS (Faber & Faber 2014); and Transparency and the Open Society (Policy Press 2016) which outlines the dangers of government and corporate data monopolies. He founded and chairs the Open Public Services Network at the Royal Society of Arts; he is a trustee of SafeLives, the domestic abuse charity; and he sits on the advisory board to HM Inspectorate of Probation. He has worked with governments, NGOs and leading media organisations globally on the use of open data and public reporting. Roger began his career as a journalist working as a correspondent for the Financial Times in the UK and the US and, before that, as a researcher for the Consumers’ Association.
Dicussion moderated by:
Luke Robert Mason, Director of Virtual Futures (Moderator) (@LukeRobertMason)