• Rebooting NoC 2023!

    Rebooting NoC 2023!

    Rebooting process 2023

  • Global Perspectives and Local Realities: Essay Series Exploring Stories of COVID-19

    Global Perspectives and Local Realities: Essay Series Exploring Stories of COVID-19

    Exploring stories about COVID-19 in real time, creating a snapshot focused on the narratives emerging from local communities in order to paint a global picture. » more

  • Takeaways from a special discussion with Yves Dacccord, former Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross

    Takeaways from a special discussion with Yves Dacccord, former Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross

    On March 19, the NoC convened a special virtual session with Yves Dacccord to discuss the intersection of the Internet and society field with the crisis surrounding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. » more


About the Network of Centers (NoC)

The NoC a collaborative initiative among academic institutions with a focus on interdisciplinary research on the development, social impact, policy implications, and legal issues concerning the Internet. This collective aims to increase interoperability between participating centers in order to stimulate the creation of new cross-national, cross-disciplinary conversation, debate, teaching, learning, and engagement regarding the most pressing questions around new technologies, social change, and related policy and regulatory developments.

Why the NoC was Created

A growing number of academic research institutions are focused on exploring a wide range of important issues concerning the future of the Internet and related technologies. Representing diverse disciplines, methodologies, and viewpoints, these institutions have sought to analyze and understand the growing impact of digital technologies on society and share those findings in such ways that serve the public interest. In the process, they grapple with a complex set of topics and issues of national, regional, and global importance, including policy, regulation and governance, human behavior and social impact, new markets and business models, intellectual property, privacy, and security, and many other issues. Acknowledging a lack of internationally coordinated research and engagement activities in the areas mentioned above, a group of academic centers launched the NoC in 2012, within an international Symposium on Internet-Driven Developments: Structural Changes and Tipping Points (SCTP), hosted by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.

The NoC Secretariat

As a decentralized initiative, the NoC’s coordination periodically alternates among member Centers in the network and has included:

Guiding Principles

Upon joining the Network, participants commit to a set of Guiding Principles, including a set of core values such as openness, collaboration, and diversity. The Network operates independent from governments, political parties and economic interests and does not take formal positions on policy issues.


There are three main focus areas for 2020. We seek to (1) increase the analytical capabilities of the network through its individual nodes as well as cross-network collaboration, i.e. continue to build NoC as a “sensory” system for Internet & society issues across the globe; (2) augment educational capacity across Centers and continents, drawing from the model of  summer schools, fellows programs, and other educational activities across the NoC; and (3) offer practical guidance to policymakers through toolkits, playbooks, and other materials where NoC Centers work closely with governmental, private sector, and civil society stakeholders on problems they face translating values or principles into implementation, drawing inspiration from a new AI Policy Practice program launched by the Berkman Klein Center. 

The 2017-2018 roadmap addresses the challenges of a growing global network of academic institutions. In a highly connected world in which public and private choices are shaping every sphere of individual activity, researchers of Internet and society issues are becoming increasingly important to translate and map ahead the changes. One specific challenge addressed in the roadmap is to reflect on how academia can interact with other stakeholders. What are the objectives, the parameters and the expected outcomes of such interactions? In proposing a framework to deal with this question, the roadmap also indicates focus areas for cross-disciplinary research, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and internet blocking.

The 2015-2016 Roadmap outlines the strategy towards enabling actual exchange between Internet & Society researchers across the globe. In fact, in order to serve the public interest, studying Internet & Society topics calls for a deep analysis of ongoing trends of national, regional, and global importance, including policy, regulation and governance. Cross-disciplinary dialogues and, more in general, an advanced coordination of worldwide research endeavors on Internet & Society can help to neutrally inform global debates, so to achieve a clearer understanding of complex and distributed phenomena that pertain to the Internet, its impact, and its evolution.

The 2014 Roadmap outlines proposed next steps regarding the second phase of collaboration among the participants in the Network. It builds upon the first Symposium on “Internet­ Driven Developments: Structural Changes and Tipping Points” that took place at Harvard University from December 6­-8, 2012 and has been further developed in the subsequent regional Network conversations and meetings that took place in 2013. These include meetings hosted by ICT Law Institute at Bilgi University, Istanbul, by the Center for Technology & Society at FGV School of Law, Rio de Janeiro, and by the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG), Berlin. The Network’s activities in 2014 will scale accordingly with the no ­longer nascent Network, ramping up to include hard research outputs and significant contributions in key policy debates.

The initial year and first phase of development was guided by the NoC's 2013 Roadmap, which outlined a range of enablers such as events, learning calls, or researcher exchanges within the Network. Again, this roadmap fed from the valuable feedback that came out of the Symposium on "Internet-Driven Developments: Structural Changes and Tipping Points" that took place at Harvard University on December 6-8, 2012.



Are you part of a Center interested in joining the NoC?

The NoC is an informal network of peers based on actual collaboration. The network is currently coordinated by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. The NoC encompasses two types of participants:

  • “Participating Centers”, i.e., academic research centers whose agenda is primarily focused on Internet & Society topics;
  • “Affiliated Participants”, i.e., other types of institutions, still with Internet & Society-related open threads, carried out, e.g., as non-academic research centers, policy-support entities, or think tanks.

For more information on how to join the NoC with your center, please reach out to contact@networkofcenters.net. Applications are periodically reviewed by the NoC Steering Committee.


There are many other ways to get involved with the NoC: research opportunities, courses, events, physical and virtual conversations, fellowships and internships, and more. We look forward to learning new ways in which we can together advance our studies and impact.

  • Join a physical or virtual event
  • Learn about our programs (e.g., internships and fellowships)
  • Follow us on Twitter

NRI 2023: Navigating Risks in the Humanitarian Sector’s Tech Revolution

For decades, humanitarian organisations have been dedicated to helping the most vulnerable populations worldwide, from disaster relief to essential services for refugees and displaced communities. In today’s digitally connected world, humanitarian organisations have adopted new technologies to deliver much-needed assistance to displaced communities in timely and scalable ways. However, with these new technologies come new challenges. 
Many major humanitarian organisations are increasingly relying on AI tools and Financial Technology to streamline aid distribution and humanitarian efforts, collecting and processing vast amounts of personal data including personal information, health records and financial data of individuals.  Questions have arisen as to  whether these technologies are actually benefiting those displaced communities they are intended to help, or rather increase their vulnerability by placing their sensitive and identifying data at risk of breaches. For these vulnerable populations, compromise of personal data can have far-reaching consequences.
In 2017, a digital platform used by 11 major NGOs and UN agencies was breached, exposing data relating to names and locations of displaced individuals receiving financial assistance. In 2022, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported two breaches on their servers, nearly 70 days after the breaches had occurred. These events exposed the names, locations, and contact information of more than 500,000 people worldwide. The implications of these data breaches are far-reaching and it has become more crucial to minimise the risk within the humanitarian sector. 
There is a high risk that this data could be misused. A prime concern is  that displaced communities may easily fall prey to cybercriminals or information could be exploited for fraudulent activities. While there has been no evidence of these consequences, such risks are imminent. The ​​International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that they had to shut down their servers and systems which hampered their ability to provide essential services to the displaced communities.
Continuous data breaches within humanitarian organisations pose a significant and multi-faceted risk towards vulnerable communities. These go beyond privacy concerns and have the potential to erode the trust in the impartiality of delivering humanitarian assistance by humanitarian organisations. Trust is the cornerstone of humanitarian work and the erosion of it could have dire consequences, particularly for donors and funding partners. Consequently, safeguarding humanitarian data becomes a crucial aspect of the provision of humanitarian aid. The Network Readiness Index highlights trust towards technology as an important aspect as it is closely tied to reliability and security. Users need to trust that their information will be used as intended, securely and will not lead to unauthorised access and or data breaches. Existing regulatory frameworks and principles could ensure that these risks are mitigated. Importantly, assessing the Do No Harm principle as it relates to the use of technology in the humanitarian sector would be vital especially in instances.
The Do No Harm principle aims to ensure that humanitarian efforts do not have adverse impacts on, or create new risks for individuals and the vulnerable communities they serve. It helps to identify the unintended consequences of humanitarian interventions. While technology is being used in good faith, their risks can have adverse effects and cause harm to the beneficiaries.
In line with the Do No Harm principle, humanitarian organisations should adopt stringent data policy mechanisms to safeguard sensitive data and risks are mitigated. These include, limiting access to sensitive data to authorised personnel, continuously monitoring and updating security protocols to address vulnerabilities and threats which may emerge. Importantly, there are various data protection regulations and policies which provide clear guidelines for responsible data management.
Fortunately, humanitarian organisations such as the UN have been adopting Data Privacy, Ethics and Protection guidelines to assist with handling and processing of sensitive data by humanitarian organisations. Should they be effectively implemented, together with data regulatory principles, then risks and harm would be significantly reduced.
Striking the right balance between leveraging technology and safeguarding data is essential to ensure that humanitarian efforts continue to make a positive impact while minimizing the risks associated with data breaches. A first step would be to conduct a risk assessment to identify potential vulnerabilities within the system. Also, integrating data protection and privacy policies and guidelines within the system could also ensure adequate security and lower risks and impact of the exposed data.
Data breaches within the humanitarian sector are a concerning issue that can have profound implications for both organizations and the vulnerable populations they serve. While the use of technology introduces new challenges, it also offers opportunities to enhance efficiency within the humanitarian sector. It’s important to leverage on these opportunities without risking human lives.
The 2023 edition of the Network Readiness Index, dedicated to the theme of trust in technology and the network society, will launch on November 20th with a hybrid event at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Register and learn more using this link
For more information about the Network Readiness Index, visit https://networkreadinessindex.org/

Samantha Msipa is a passionate researcher and has actively engaged on various projects on law and technology throughout her career. She has a Bachelor of Laws degree as well as a Master of Laws in International Commercial Law from the University of Johannesburg. Her affiliation with Research ICT Africa as an AI Research Fellow allows her to delve deeper into the complexities of AI and its implications on the African continent. 
The post NRI 2023: Navigating Risks in the Humanitarian Sector’s Tech Revolution appeared first on Portulans Institute.

Portulans Institute
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Digitale Dreifaltigkeit - Planet Digital

Digitale Dreifaltigkeit - Planet Digital

Media Change & Innovation Division, IKMZ, University of Zurich
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Vidéo – Conférence « L’innovation fait-elle la loi ? Réguler la technologie entre techno-normes etnormes juridiques » de Pr Benjamin Lehaire

Vous trouverez ci-dessus la conférence du Pr Benjamin Lehaire (TELUQ) dans le cadre du cycle de conférences annuelle de la Chaire Lexum « Cycle annuel 2023-2024 de conférences Chaire LexUM : La géopolitique de la régulation du numérique – Enjeux normatifs et stratégiques. »


Benjamin Lehaire est professeur titulaire et enseigne le droit des affaires depuis 2014 à l’Université TÉLUQ (Université du Québec). Il détient un doctorat en droit privé de l’Université Laval (Québec) obtenu suite à une thèse en cotutelle réalisée avec l’Université de La Rochelle (France). Spécialisé en droit de l’entreprise, il s’intéresse à différents sujets touchant la vie des affaires comme les sociétés de personnes, les marques de commerce, les clauses de non-concurrence et l’interaction entre le droit des affaires et le droit des obligations. Sa thèse portait sur les actions indemnitaires des victimes de cartels. Cette thèse a été récompensée par le Prix Minerve (Meilleur thèse en droit, 2014) et le Prix de l’Association québécoise de droit comparé. Par la suite, en 2016, il publie un livre sur l’action en concurrence déloyale (Éditions Yvon Blais). Il collabore depuis 2022 avec la professeure Charlaine Bouchard au manuel Droit et pratique de l’entreprise (Éditions Yvon Blais) destiné aux avocats, notaires et étudiants des facultés de droit du Québec. Il s’intéresse également à la théorie et à la philosophie du droit. Son livre L’innovation hors-la-loi : les origines de la techno-normativité, paru en 2022 chez Bruylant, dans la collection « Penser le droit », lui a valu une nomination au prestigieux prix Montesquieu (Paris) récompensant le meilleur ouvrage juridique de l’année. Dans ce livre, il explore les liens juridiques et politiques entre l’innovation, notamment numérique, et le droit mettant en garde contre un droit qui serait absorbé dans les logiques techniciennes et techno-libérales du « numérique ».


L’arrivée de ChatGPT fin 2022 a laissé transparaître une panique chez les juristes et les régulateurs sur la façon de réguler l’intelligence artificielle. Cette conférence posera frontalement la question de savoir si l’innovation fait la loi, comment le peut-elle, avec quels appuis idéologiques? Ou bien, est-elle tout simplement hors-la-loi? Par nature hors de la portée des législateurs? Et comment? En utilisant la philosophie politique, la philosophie du droit, la sociologie politique du droit, le conférencier tentera de proposer une lecture du rapport du Droit à l’Innovation dans notre société occidentale pour outiller le public afin de penser cet encerclement, ce débordement de la Loi par l’innovation technologique. Cette conférence sera tirée du livre L’innovation hors-la-loi : Les origines de la techno-normativité, publié chez Bruylant dans la collection « Penser le droit » en novembre 2022. L’ouvrage a été sélectionné pour le prestigieux Prix Montesquieu (Paris), récompensant le meilleur livre de droit pour l’année 2022.

Centre de Recherche en Droit Public
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Bending the Maze: On the Architectures of Digital Enclosures

A famous inscription above the temple of Apollo in Delphi reads: “Know thyself, you, that walks down this hallway.”  It implies responsibility and the weight of agency. And that’s the thing: I always felt responsible for my actions, opinions and tastes. It is what I was always taught, probably because it encouraged a more ethical and autonomous existence. It’s just that, I can’t know myself, without knowing the hallway I walk.
The connection between the designed spaces I inhabit, the hallway I walk, my deeper sense of self and the shallower thought patterns these spaces produce has been known since the Apollo of Delphi was built. And the hallway I walk, with its numerous chambers, is a winding maze, so where does that leave me?
I am lost, but my breathing is even and slow. I try to track my steps. I remember that one time I was told that to find my way out of a maze I must keep my right hand on the wall as I walk, so I lift my hand, and glide it along the surface as I continue. A labyrinth is different from a maze because it has only one possible path, which leads directly to the center. A maze on the other hand has multiple choices of path and direction and a variety of ways to maneuver from the entrance to the exit. So, to be clear: I am stuck in a maze. What is not clear about the maze is where it is located and what exactly it is made of. It feels material, and the walls seem solid under my hand, but the structure could easily be mediated by a more fluid interface, a convincing mirage. I want to know more about the media and interface I am dealing with. I want to explore the chambers of the maze and examine the objects they hold which solidify their existence and character. I want to see if the maze is real while finding my way toward the exit.
In the Autumn of 2022, I lived in Tbilisi, Georgia, where I subleted a very small, dark and old apartment in a rundown neighborhood close to the river Kura. It was a one-room brick circular hut, with a shower that was a simple shower head located above the toilet. It was rented out by an old man and his mother, squeezed into the shadowy garden of their larger and nicer house. In that period I purposefully started reading literature on how architecture affects mood, creativity, focus and even health. One of the books I came across was called Medium Design written by Keller Easterling, an architect, urbanist, and professor. Easterling uses a spatial lens to explicate bizarre and contemporary connections between me, the individual, us “the community”, and the media we negotiate daily. She writes; “Media are vessels and environments, containers of possibility that anchor our existence and make what we are doing possible.”1
I could track in real-time the constriction of my possibility spaces, based on how I felt in this tiny, dark house: how low my energy levels were, how long I slept, how the shadows seemed deeper on the ground floor and how deeply disconnected I felt.  It was the first time I longed to live high above the city, the first time I understood the appeal of skyscrapers. This is the clearest time my privileged self experienced the effects of economic and architectural segregation, the first time my network had not compensated for my net worth and how in turn this affected my sense of self.
“The sealing of the lifeworld explicates how technologies, by constantly extending their application to us, seal, that is shrink and condense, the possibility spaces encountered in our life-worlds. As our existential space becomes more and more sealed by technologies (via engineering, design, and architecture), so is the space for our possible self-interpretations.”2 The only things that anchored my self-interpretation and identity in this dark hut were my favorite objects I brought along, like this amethyst stone that belonged to my grandmother and a special tray I place my creams and perfume on.
I saw how I am constantly confronted with instructions on how to auto-poetically define myself through design, architecture and objects. It is not only physical architecture that affects and defines my possibility spaces, my attitude, opinion, stance and taste, but also the virtual architecture I spend time in. The identity-constructing items and memory anchors that I fill them with co-create my self-interpretation, and these items can be found in both the physical and virtual chambers I inhabit.  On a micro level, the segregation of virtual chambers is discernable in my references, my memes, my knowledge and sources, as well as the selection of sponsored content I witness. These too can be counted as objects and declarations, weaving in and out of physical and virtual spaces, morphing along the way with each translation. They are experienced quite differently based on where in the process of transmutation I catch them and in which chamber of the maze I am located.  “A maze continually presents you with disturbing choices, dead ends, and new territories. You do not know how long the solution will take or how many twists and turns will get you out.”2
Filip Čustić, 2022
The virtual chambers I inhabit remind me of a digital metropolis. Cyberspace is spatial in how it is perceived and named, and it influences me in similar ways that urban spatial design does. The extension of virtual architecture into physical spaces and the hardware of the physical into the construction of the virtual is so deeply ingrained that often problems that are discussed concerning one sphere can easily and immediately be transferred into the other. Alfredo Mela, a researcher of social exclusion and built environments, describes the physical separation between specialized fragments of urban public space aimed at different social and consumer groups. It reminds me of the sorting mechanisms search engines use and the individually tailored content targeted at specific groups of users on social media platforms. These groups are delineated by economic class, taste, access to space or lack thereof and consequential access to power.
Mela continues to explain the capsulization of metropolitan areas by their fragmentation into a series of closed, controlled and specifically accessorized zones defending the occupants from unwanted stimuli and regulating their behavior. 4 This same concept could be applied to the fragmented virtual sprawl with its digital enclosures and insulated chambers that function as binary feedback loops of information.
Both the architectural plains of the physical and the digital are heavily splintered, isolated into a series of separate loops of reference and sectors of existence, each equipped with a particular set of items to reinforce and support the chamber walls. These items are often public lifestyle references and projected objects of need and belonging, like music festival promotions, vacation location discounts, specific political party slogans, home appliance commercials, or brands that encapsulate a desired way of life. Members of different virtual chambers or urban areas rarely converge because of the design of the given media and infrastructure, showing that the ideological and aesthetic sealing of lifeworlds and possibility spaces is an architecturally encouraged form of urban organization.
On a macro level the most obvious example of how digital and physical architecture are codetermining and more importantly polarizing agents and conduits for ideological narratives and lifestyles, is the classic case of Cambridge Analytica. Digital thought chambers were identified using behavioral data, which is essential data on how people maneuver the virtual maze and what content they consume and produce.  Members of these separate thought chambers were targeted by how convincible they were evaluated to be, and how possible it was to push their opinion in a predetermined direction, in this case towards radicalizing and voting pro-Brexit. This is a concrete and well-documented case of how virtual design and architecture affect citizens sense of self in society and the possibility spaces of change. In turn, this has an effect on further spatial polarization whereby the negative economic effects witnessed after Brexit resulted in businesses shutting down and leaving England, construction projects halting, and policy towards migrants completely changing which affected the design of infrastructure dedicated to housing, administration and integration. The resulting fiscal and political fiasco is also one of the reasons the UK continues to be one of the most unaffordable places to live in (ex)European countries.  This particular chain of events remains a perfect demonstration of how using digital strategies targeting specific thought chambers affects virtual and physical divisions.
Ken Isaacs, 1962
I decide to peek into the next room I come across, hearing the murmuring of a dinner party and a flickering light reflecting on the floor in front of the entrance. Inside the chamber, I see a group of figures who seem to be in the process of consuming themselves.
 The self-consuming figures are interested in their symbolic flesh. They only desire themselves and have never been curious about much else. Of course, self-consumers try at times to taste other things but the taste is too different, both bland and bitter. Bland because no network of memories, histories, or emotive past experiences connects them to the new taste. Bitter for similar reasons: it does not resonate and comfort.  And so self-consumers decide against diversifying their palette. It is easier, self-consumers conclude, to remain in their comfort zone. And the question arises, of course, as to why self-consumers should push their boundaries. Self-consumer know what they like and what they don’t like, and have a whole company of other self-consumers who do the same, side by side, and share their time of self-consumption. And what a pleasure it is because there are no disputes. They lounge in the chamber and contort themselves to reach their juiciest bits. The chamber echoes with the sounds of contemplative consumption and low laughter. The feeling of friends spending time together, reinforcing and amplifying each other’s beliefs. A never-ending feast.
Withdrawing in astonishment I recognize a pattern of consumption that I often replicate. The scene leaves a coated milky taste in my mouth as I continue down the hallway.
Klara Debeljak, 2022
Often, I find myself being in a room of people I mostly agree with, talking about things we mostly agree on, with enthusiasm and righteousness. The institutions I engage with are so narrow in their diversity of opinion and positioning, I am in a constant state of self-censorship, despite having similar political orientations. Thus, I find myself stuck in a self-referential, naval-gazing virtual and physical chambers full of echoes, where I need to find elaborate metaphors to hint at some of my unconventional questions. Which is unfortunate, because I find that I cognitively evolve most during an unfiltered discussion, by cultivating a sense of understanding for the position of someone I do not agree with completely and who shares less of an overlap with my stance.
As Easterling writes; “Favoring successive rather than coexistent thoughts or practices, the new right answer must kill the old right answer. The newest redemptive technology will make you free, but the freedom of one group must rob another of its freedom.”5 The obsession with producing, consuming, and distributing content that directly relates to me, my image, my opinion, the aesthetic I believe to be my unique and chosen one, an assumption I seldom question, are habits that are infrastructurally and spatially encouraged. Such closed-off chambers are titled echo chambers, functioning as binary feedback loops of self-enforcing information that form radicalized media bubbles. Self-consumers consume what they and others in their chamber produce, which is an understandable inclination, regardless of its architectural conditioning. The issue with radicalized self-consumers is that they are caught in a particular echo chamber and cannot see beyond, or perhaps are not even aware of the closed confines of the chamber but imagine it as the totality of the world.
Tbilisi, 2022
Echo chambers are digital enclosures that increase social and political polarization and extremism by amplifying beliefs through communication and repetition inside a closed system. This closed binary feedback loop is what Keller Easterling describes as an ideological narrative and also as a reinforcing group behavior where only compatible or convenient evidence is circulated. The insular environments have also been described as a “patchwork” of theme-based, closed-off, and ultimately safe spaces with mini-audiences that produce the “ideological chaos” of the web. The problem is that the diverging opinions that would have to be discussed and debated to build an inclusive and equal future are more than just simple disagreements but rather “different ways of making sense of the world”. No wonder it seems increasingly difficult to, first, find spaces where people from polarized and opposing sides of the political spectrum could converge, confront each other, and discuss ideas of communal reconstruction and development, and second, to avoid the so-called “dialogue of the deaf” that is the result of existing in insular environments where alternative viewpoints are demonized. 6
The fragmented “ideological chaos” of the web calls for a robust public sphere where these echo chambers can be made more porous and the process of identifying a common foe can start, rather than insular political bubbles blaming each other for the degradation of their possibility spaces. But once challenged to find the virtual and physical public sphere I find it difficult to cohesively locate it. I realize physical public space is available mostly to people who are passing through and don’t want to inhabit it or use it for convening and communicating, with resting areas and benches often designed in a way that prevents loitering. Most activities in the public sphere, especially if communal and in larger groups, must be announced and confirmed. In Italy and Spain, new regulations have been rolled out in 2022 that prevent large congregations akin to protests and parties with penalties including years of jail time.7 It seems that the public sphere is managed in a way that is not conducive to any type of multi-chamber gatherings.
The “dialogue of the deaf” does not go unnoticed and nor does the cracked and blurred public sphere. There are plenty of attempts to bridge this chasm or reinvigorate the public sphere, especially in the art and critical theory world, although no attempts go as far as to address or facilitate a communion of diverse chambers, short of so called democratic elections and referendums. There has also been an increase in community-based art projects and participatory creativity but often by artists for artists. It could be argued that projects which encourage public dialogue are constructed within and for insular interest zones and specific political orientations, and thus do not succeed in bringing together diverse spheres of the population. However, the sentiment they express can be powerful, especially when the works are displayed and accessible in the public sphere. It’s the triggering of the thought processes that reverberate; “A parlor can transform into a cage, and a tent into a palace.”8
Andreas Angelidakis, 2018
Andreas Angelidakis, a Greek artist and architect who “doesn’t build” works with urban memory, architecture, and the bridge between physical and digital media. Angelidakis and his work confront the degradation and fracturing of the public sphere, both virtual and physical.   Angelidakis was at the forefront of Internet urban planning and some of his projects in the 1990s involved making online spaces where his colleagues and friends could draw and design buildings, and users could visit each other’s drawings mid-construction, walk around the space giving feedback or just chat.
Later, he started building real life spatial installations titled “Soft Ruins”, to accommodate gatherings reminiscent of discussion platforms in ancient Greece. These installations straddle the disciplines of art, architecture, and psychology and are flexible spaces that can be adapted to participants’ needs. They are made out of light foamy blocks that can be easily moved around and arranged in a variety of ways, perfectly fitting together into the different sitting formations that Angelidakis designed, but also enabling visitors to construct their own spaces in countless ways, even if at times all the blocks are simply piled in the middle of a room like soft Tetris ruins. He designed different iterations of his so-called “soft ruins” over the years, but the idea remains the same. 9 The blocks are covered in material printed in pink marble, gray stone, or army print, depending on the context, and are meant to be used in a participatory way, with viewers building a discussion arena where they can come together as citizens and collectively address political matters and in this act, in theory, battling “the dialogue of the deaf”. In practice, of course, the arena of debate is accessible to a particular echo chamber and the debate is thus either self-referential or self-censored.
The digital public sphere is perhaps easier to define, as it is “available” and there seems to be more open-source communication than in real life. But when thinking of the digital public sphere it seems indistinguishable from my private one. I am faced with the notion that not only is there an architectural fragmentation of society along economic and political fault lines but the cracked public sphere has started to blend in with my private one. The intimate environment of my phone, my YouTube selection, my Google searches, and the online portals I frequent as spaces to bond and communicate, essentially my living spaces and the declarations, objects and accessories that fill them, have become commercial and regulated environments.
Hans Hollein, 1969
My virtual would-be public sphere is simultaneously my private one, with a purposefully designed interface to encourage and direct consumption of information, ideological narratives and material products which are tailored to my tastes and accessibility based on the digital enclosure I am in. It is not unlike the ballooning real estate prices forcing me further and further from the city center and into industrial zones where similarly economically situated vagabonds make their home. My private sphere is the public sphere and it is micro-managed by the government but primarily commercial enterprises to maximize profits and regulate the masses. The boundary between citizen and consumer in this context is by name only. Divide and conquer type of thing, but also make money. That is how insular ideological thought chambers also have economic advantages for commercial and media enterprises; an impassioned and avid target audience with a delineated and narrow set of preferences and access, easy to serve and take advantage of. Perhaps a step in the right direction and an acknowledgment of the polarizing and damaging effects of the digital echo chambers is a new set of regulation the EU announced in the summer of 2023. Users of social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram will have the option to disable the ‘for me’ personalized content feed and advertisements that rely on AI profiling and surveillance-based attention targeting. It is important to mention that the option to disable the personalised content feed does not apply in England. 10
Echo chambers and self-consumption refers to informational and content-related self-consumption rather than literal, physical auto-cannibalism of course.  Although there is an additional element of visual self-consumption in the negotiation of the digital spatial sphere and the (echo) chambers of the maze. Thinking back to when I felt uncomfortable and poor in my humble rental in Tbilisi, and how my self-soothing process was channeled through the beautiful objects that solidified my sense of self and rooted my identity, an aesthetics-oriented and slightly narcissistic core emerges. The objects I used are innocent memory anchors on their own, but when emulating a certain idea and class, there is a deeper aspirational aspect to their presence.
I think of a Guardian article I recently read about how members of the younger generation have “lost the plot” with people in their twenties overdoing cosmetic treatments, Botox, and fillers, in an attempt to recreate filtered social media aesthetics in real life. 11 This trend arose during the Covid pandemic as people mostly worked online, meeting on Zoom, while constantly looking at their double-chinned reflections. Starting with purchasing physical or projecting digital backdrops of full library shelves, or a sleek office space with panorama windows of Swiss mountainous scenery, the parallel rise in cosmetic enhancements seems almost logical. What an unusual chain of events. I cannot help but be reminded of the close connection between self-consumption, narcissism and the echo.
John William Waterhouse, 1903
Finally, I encounter another chamber that I hear before I can see it: the sound of a trickling stream and the buzz of a forest. My step quickens. Once in the chamber, I am faced with a much larger space than the one with the self-consumers; a huge hall with ceilings so high and rounded they give the impression of an artificial sky. The air is warmer and thicker here. There is a mossy forest with a stream and a small pond between the trees.
I sit on the mossy ground and lean against a tree, suddenly hearing a shimmering voice reverberating in the space, introducing herself as Echo. She says she will guide me through the history of this particular chamber, the Greek myth of Echo and Narcissus.
Echo was a forest nymph, who lived in the forest bathing in the pond with her sisters. Sometimes though, Zeus came down from his mountain to disturb their peace, chase the nymphs and fuck them on the soft moss. Because of her fluid and endless ability to chat Echo was assigned the task of distracting Hera, Zeus’ wife. Soon enough Hera found out and became angry with Echo for purposefully distracting her, so she cursed the talkative nymph with what she imagined would be the most painful affliction: the inability to talk. Henceforth, Echo was only able to echo the last sentence she heard. Worse still, not long after her words had been stolen, she saw a young hunter riding through the woods and fell deeply in love with him. His name was Narcissus. Ah, the adrenaline that flooded her body as she hid behind a tree and watched him. He was calm, and confident, with beautiful skin and a straight back. She watched the curve of his neck and shoulders, the hollow between his collarbones, and imagined the words she would like to whisper in his ear. Her skin prickled with excitement.
 Unfortunately, Narcissus, like many hunters, was proud and vain. He sensed that someone was watching him, and called out: “who’s there?”. Echo felt this was her opportunity and came out from behind the trees, but she could only repeat his words: “who’s there?”. She tried to embrace him but he recoiled from her touch, put off by the echoed words and her spying ways. She felt ashamed and rejected, and miserably mourned her curse. Echo retreated into the caves above the edge of the forest where she suffered in silence as her bones turned to stone, only her heartbroken echoes lingering in the air. Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, observed the story unfold and decided to curse the self-absorbed Narcissus by making him fall in love with his reflection. When Narcissus leaned over the pond to wash himself, he saw his mirrored image and fell in deep and obsessive love with himself. He could not move from the edge of the pond, could not eat, could not sleep. He stared at his reflection, gliding his fingertips on the surface of the pond, dipping his nose and mouth into the cool water. Eventually, he realized that his love and adoration would not be reciprocated and he slowly and sadly transformed into a white and golden flower, delicate and elegant, dripping over the edge of the pond. Narcissus bloomed every spring, reminding the remaining nymphs of the beautiful hunter, their lost sister Echo, and the danger of infatuation, narcissism and the echo.
In her essay “Beyond Representation” Mexican writer, lecturer, and translator, Irmgard Emmalhainz describes the echoes and the narcissism, the visual and symbolic self-consumption as a process that is closely linked with digital enclosures in the context of a neoliberal capitalist order. “This process occurs and repeats to the point that our ‘normal’ now consists of living in a world in which we all have the right to retreat to our private worlds of meaning, tailored by the algorithms of digital interfaces that constantly adapt to each user’s individual needs. The possibility of a world in common has been replaced by myriad niches for the private consumption of digitalized content.” 12 My position in the maze and my exposure to particular chambers construct my agency and influence the feeling that my opinion, my taste and that of my friends and colleagues in this chamber is the only correct one, and a chosen one at that. The corporate significance of my aesthetic and political orientation has been addressed in various ways in the past, but this knowledge has not managed to initiate agency or empathy. The deepening of divides through tailor-made algorithmic realities makes it difficult for users to lift their heads above the walls of the maze.

I think it is important to emphasize the need to transcend final declarations and right answers. Keller Easterling in Medium Design describes the need to be right: “In the most general terms, maybe the modern mind is addicted to a common, stubborn desire to be right or to ‘know that’. In the earliest moments of development, adults hammer into the minds of children the need to provide the right answer, just as they themselves go to bed every night telling themselves that they are right all along.”  It is not about collapsing the walls of the echo chambers or flattening the maze into a uniform experience, which would be a futile task anyway. This text is not dedicated to reinstating some type of universalism or preventing people from spending time with communities they identify with and objects they like. Rather, it is about analyzing the structures that affect the radicalization of the chambers we exist in, which in turn prevent mutual debate and understanding, the very definition of the public sphere.
Mark Sealy, a curator and cultural historian who explores image-making and social change is particularly good at framing the radical, multi-modal existence that provides the agency we seek. He describes the less rigid space of a more flexible maze, which necessarily implies the coexistence of multiple realities, as external and internal multiverse spaces. He describes the state of embracing and loving all that is unfamiliar, cultivating respect and hospitality as an act of restorative care. 13 Indeed, unexpected demonstrations of empathy and support is truly when the physical and virtual public sphere comes alive, and is perhaps the only way to invigorate it.
Trying to imagine a more peaceful future, one in which empathy can be a mode of existence that is not extended only to people within one’s particular echo chamber, demands a certain adjustment of the structure of the maze. We must reintroduce agency by bending the maze into a more fluid and porous structure, joining adjacent chambers, lowering the walls of the maze in certain areas, digging connecting tunnels, and constructing alternative methods of finding our way.
>>If you want to know more about the author you can reach out here: https://www.instagram.com/klara.deb/
>>If you want to read this text in the Slovenian translation it is avalible here: https://www.disenz.net/ukrivljanje-blodnjaka-o-arhitekturah-digitalnih-ograd/
1 Easterling K. (2021) Medium Design: Knowing How to Work on the World. London: Verso Books.
2 Ed. Hauptmann D., Neidich W. (2010) Cognitive Architecture: From Biopolitics to Noopolitics Architecture & Mnd in the Age of Communication and Information. Delft: Delft School of Design Series in Architecture and Urbanism.
3 Sternberg M. E. (2009) Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being. Harvard, Massachussetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
4 Melo A. (2014) Urban public space between fragmentation, control and conflict. City, Territory, Architecture 1, 15. //doi.org/10.1186/s40410-014-0015-0
5 Easterling K. (2021) Medium Design: Knowing How to Work on the World. London: Verso Books.
6 Badouard R., Mabi C., Monnoyer-Smith L. (2016) Arenas of Public Debate: On the Materiality of Discussion Spaces. Translated by Dickinson R. Questions De Comunication, 30. //doi.org/10.4000/questionsdecommunication.11000
7 Giuffrida A. (2022) ‘Freedom-killing monster’: illegal rave crackdown in Italy draws criticism. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/nov/02/freedom-killing-monster-it...
8 Ed. Hauptmann D., Neidich W. (2010) Cognitive Architecture: From Biopolitics to Noopolitics Architecture & Mnd in the Age of Communication and Information. Delft: Delft School of Design Series in Architecture and Urbanism.
9 Axel N. (2019) Letting Go, Andreas Angelidakis. E-flux, Architecture. www.e-flux.com/architecture/positions/287537/letting-go/
10 Emma Roth (2023) The EU’s Digital Services Act goes into effect today: here’s what that means. The Verge. www.theverge.com/23845672/eu-digital-services-act-explained
11 Bryant M. (2022) ‘They’ve lost the plot’: leading cosmetic doctor says under-30s are overdoing Botox and fillers. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/dec/18/cosmetic-surgeon-botox-fill...
12 Emmelhainz I. (2020) Can We Share a World Beyond Representation? E-flux, Journal. Issue #106. https://www.e-flux.com/journal/106/314167/can-we-share-a-world-beyond-re...
13 Sealey M. (2022) Photography – Race, Rights and Representation. London: Lawrence & Wishart Ltd.

Institute of Network Cultures
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Conférence McGill AI & Law – The Implications of Generative AI for Legal Services

When: Monday, November 27th, 2023 – 12:00 – 13:00

Where: Online

Price: Free

Zoom Registration: https://mcgill.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0sf–trzouE9bfkVDT50tCJ056QeMo665K


This talk will discuss the impact of generative AI on the legal industry. It will include a description of what generative AI is, how legal professionals can use it (and how they shouldn’t), and what it all means for the future of legal services. The talk will include a demonstration of existing technology along with suggestions for how legal professionals and law schools should adapt.

About the speaker:

Andrew Perlman is the dean of Suffolk University Law School and a recognized voice in the United States on the future of legal education and law practice. Among other leadership roles, he served as the chief reporter of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Ethics 20/20, the vice chair of the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, and the inaugural chair of the ABA Center for Innovation. He is currently serving as a member of the advisory committee for the ABA Task Force on the Law and Artificial Intelligence.

Dean Perlman’s scholarship has included numerous articles on professional responsibility and legal innovation that have appeared in some of the nation’s leading law reviews. Dean Perlman has further served as a presenter or panelist at more than 100 academic, judicial, and other professional programs in more than 20 U.S. jurisdictions, three continents, and six countries. He clerked for a federal district court judge in Chicago and practiced as a litigator there. He is an honors graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School, and he received his LL.M from Columbia Law School.

AI and the Law Series:

The AI and the Law Series is hosted by the Montreal Cyberjustice Laboratory, and the Private Justice and the Rule of Law Research Group. We would like to thank our sponsors: the Autonomy Through Cyberjustice Technologies and AI Project, and the McGill Student Collective on Technology and Law.

Centre de Recherche en Droit Public
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NRI 2023: Translating AI Principles Into Industry Practice

AI is here to stay
The term “artificial intelligence” (AI) was coined over 50 years ago at Dartmouth College for a workshop proposal that defined AI as “the coming science and engineering of making intelligent machines“. Since then, the field has had its ups and downs, but re-emerged into the limelight a decade ago with revolutionary advances in deep learning, and now the deployment of generative adversarial networks (GANs), variational autoencoders, and transformers.
These various techniques are now sufficiently sophisticated to meet Darmouth’s stated ambition of creating intelligent machines. Open AI is a good example; built on transformer-based generative AI language learning models, the OpenAI software suite, (ChatGPT, DAlle-E and Codex) is already paving the way for new drug discovery, replacing software engineers to code, conducting sophisticated conjoint-based market research, and dramatically improving customer service. Other recent studies also demonstrate significant productivity gains thanks to generative AI.
The essentials
With all the hype surrounding them, the many benefits of AI may seem suspect to some. More appropriately, Gartner’s anticipation cycle might suggest that we’re entering a phase of “exaggerated expectations”. Whatever the case, the many benefits of AI need to be balanced against new social, ethical and trust challenges.
As with any technology, its widespread use will only occur if it benefits society, rather than being used in dangerous or abusive ways. From beneficial AI to responsible AIethical AItrustworthy AI, or explainable AI, terminological variants always remind us that AI needs fundamental trust to thrive.
Today, many governments and international public organizations have developed their own frameworks. Private institutions are also taking the lead. Google’s AI principles, for example, are “Be socially beneficial”, “Avoid creating or reinforcing AI biases”, “Be built and tested for safety” and “Be accountable to people”. SAP has set up an AI Ethics Steering Committee and an AI Ethics Advisory Group. But the key question now is how players translate AI principles into actual organizational practices within the company. After all, most big-name companies have faced serious problems with the use of AI, for example when Microsoft’s chatbot risks spreading hate speech or Amazon’s online recruitment favors a certain gender or race.
The AI journey
Even if putting these principles into practice is complex, the merit of companies succeeding in this operational translation will benefit both society and their business objectives.
I recently worked with a leading consultancy to assess how major global companies rate their AI journey – in particular, how they have implemented trustworthy organizational practices.
Our sample comprised over 1,500 companies, spread across 10 major countries, including the USA, China, India, EU member states, Brazil, South Africa, and beyond.
Here are the five main takeaways:

  1. Companies are not standing still: around 80% of them have launched some form of trustworthy AI.
  2. However, companies rarely adopt a wide range of practices that form the backbone of trustworthy AI. On average, companies use 4 out of 10 organizational practice reviews, and only 2% of companies adopt all practices.
  3. None of these practices has yet become widespread (table 1).
  4. Country and sector appear to play a role in the degree of operationalization. Europe lags behind Asia (India and Japan), Canada is ahead of the USA, and high-tech is not ahead of other sectors.
  5. Operationalizing trustworthy AI is a top priority for around 30% of companies, though not necessarily to expand efforts, but rather to catch up with their peers.

The leaders
Nevertheless, if we compare the top 10% of companies with the 30% that have yet to implement trustworthy AI, we can find some hope. There is no visible correlation (yet) between responsible AI practices and AI ROI, whether in terms of revenues or investments made, or the profitability of AI projects. However, trustworthy AI is implemented, and with greater priority on other actions, the more AI use cases are exploited within large companies, and the more they have spent on AI.
Table 1: Trustworthy AI practices, 1500 of the world’s largest listed companies

The 2023 edition of the Network Readiness Index, dedicated to the theme of trust in technology and the network society, will launch on November 20th with a hybrid event at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Register and learn more using this link
For more information about the Network Readiness Index, visit https://networkreadinessindex.org/

Jacques Bughin is the CEO of Machaon Advisory and a professor of Management. He retired from McKinsey as senior partner and director of the McKinsey Global Institute. He advises Antler and Fortino Capital, two major VC/PE firms, and serves on the board of multiple companies. He has served as a member of the Portulans Institute Advisory Board since 2019.
The post NRI 2023: Translating AI Principles Into Industry Practice appeared first on Portulans Institute.

Portulans Institute
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Nanosatellit soll neuartige KI-Technologien testen

Nach über zwei Jahren Entwicklungszeit steht der Nanosatellit SONATE-2 kurz vor dem Start. Voraussichtlich im März 2024 wird er mit einer Rakete in den Orbit gebracht. Designt und gebaut wurde der Satellit von einem Team um den Raumfahrttechniker Professor Hakan Kayal von der Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg.
Seit rund 20 Jahren entwickelt die JMU Kleinsatelliten-Missionen. SONATE-2 markiert nun einen weiteren Höhepunkt.
Der Satellit wird neuartige Hard- und Softwaretechnologien der Künstlichen Intelligenz (KI) im erdnahen Weltraum testen. Ziel ist es, damit zukünftig automatisch Anomalien auf Planeten oder Asteroiden zu erkennen. Das Bundeswirtschaftsministerium fördert das Projekt mit 2,6 Millionen Euro.
Training der KI an Bord des Satelliten
Vergleichbare Projekte gebe es nur wenige, man könne sie an einer Hand abzählen, sagt Hakan Kayal: „Einzigartig an unserer Mission ist, dass die KI an Bord trainiert wird.“ Normalerweise passiert dieses Training aufwändig auf der Erde mit leistungsstarken Computern. Doch diese Strategie passt nicht zu den Plänen, die der JMU-Professor im Auge hat.
Kayal nennt ein Beispiel: „Nehmen wir an, ein kleiner Satellit soll zukünftig beispielsweise einen neuen Asteroiden im Sonnensystem untersuchen. Für diese Aufgabe kann er nicht am Boden trainiert werden, denn das Objekt der Untersuchung ist ja weitgehend unbekannt. Es gibt keine Trainingsdaten, so dass die Messungen und Aufnahmen vor Ort gemacht werden müssen.“
Diese Daten erst zur Erde zu schicken und die KI dann mittels Fernsteuerung zu trainieren, würde bei erdfernen Missionen sehr lange dauern. Eine durch KI unterstützte höhere Autonomie direkt an Bord wäre da leistungsfähiger. Sie würde dazu führen, dass sich interessante Objekte und Phänomene auf dem Asteroiden deutlich schneller aufspüren lassen.
SONATE-2 testet viele weitere Technologien
Ob sich solche Szenarien grundsätzlich realisieren lassen, will das Team um Kayal auf SONATE-2 mit neu entwickelten Verfahren und Methoden testen, zunächst im Erdorbit. Vier Kameras an Bord liefern die für das Training nötigen Bilder: Die KI lernt damit zunächst unter anderem herkömmliche geometrische Muster auf der Erdoberfläche kennen. Dieses Wissen hilft ihr dann dabei, selbstständig Anomalien zu finden.
Mit an Bord von SONATE-2 befinden sich weitere Kleinsatelliten-Technologien, die im Orbit getestet werden sollen. Darunter sind ein System zur automatischen Detektion und Aufnahme von Blitzen sowie ein elektrisches Antriebssystem, das in Kooperation mit der Universität Stuttgart entstand. „Von der Komplexität her sucht SONATE-2 unter den Nanosatelliten seinesgleichen“, so Kayal.
Missionskontrollzentrum auf dem Uni-Campus
Wenn das Projekt weiterhin nach Plan läuft, startet SONATE-2 im März 2024 mit einer SpaceX-Rakete von der Westküste der USA in den Orbit. Dass er den extremen Bedingungen einer Weltraummission standhalten kann, hat der Satellit in den vergangenen Wochen bei diversen Härtetests bewiesen. Bei einer Startsimulation zum Beispiel hielten alle Schrauben, Lötstellen und Klebeverbindungen den enormen mechanischen Belastungen eines Raketenstarts stand.
Bei SONATE-2 handelt es sich um ein sogenanntes 6U+ Cubesat-Modell. Es ist etwa so groß wie ein Schuhkarton und hat eine Masse von rund 12 Kilogramm.
Nach dem Start wird die Kommunikation mit dem Satelliten von Würzburg aus laufen. Wie schon beim Vorgängermodell SONATE wird auch dieser Satellit vom Missionskontrollzentrum auf dem Hubland-Campus betrieben. Das Team peilt eine Betriebszeit von einem Jahr an. „Wir hoffen aber, dass der Satellit länger funktioniert“, so Kayal.
Satellitenprojekt bietet Arbeitsfeld für Studierende
An der Entwicklung des Satelliten und der Bodensysteme hat ein Team aus sechs Personen mitgewirkt; Projektleiter ist Dr. Oleksii Balagurin. Zusätzlich waren viele Studierende beteiligt, etwa als wissenschaftliche Hilfskräfte oder im Rahmen ihrer Abschlussarbeiten. Studierende können auch weiterhin an der Satellitenmission mitarbeiten: In der Betriebsphase wird vom Kontrollzentrum stetig neue Software auf SONATE-2 implementiert und getestet.
Das Projekt SONATE-2 wird vom Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) mit Mitteln des Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz (BMWK) aufgrund eines Beschlusses des Deutschen Bundestags finanziert (FKZ 50RU2100).
Prof. Dr. Hakan Kayal, Professur für Raumfahrttechnik, Institut für Informatik, Universität Würzburg, T +49 931 31-86649, hakan.kayal@uni-wuerzburg.de

Bericht der JMU-Pressestelle über den Abschluss des Vorgängerprojekts SONATE (2020)
JMU-Bachelorstudiengang „Luft- und Raumfahrtinformatik“
JMU-Masterstudiengang „Luft- und Raumfahrtinformatik“
JMU-Masterstudiengang „Satellite Technology“

Würzburg Centre for Social and Legal Implications of Artificial Intelligence (SOCAI)
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Entropyposting or the Art of Sabotaging Your Online Self

In an ocean of perfectly constructed auto narrations, users draft an ode to the ” non-readable” in search of the only method to reappropriate the entropic and spectral side of the Internet.
I remember scrolling through Yung Lean‘s Instagram profile meant trying to decode the rules of a universe nobody knew anything about. Pages full of distorted shapes, ultra-bright objects, mysterious textures and blurry surfaces of dubious origin that create confusion in the comments section. In a virtual ocean of packaged and well-structured Instagram feeds, Lily-Rose Depp – nepo baby on the rise – was posting blurry pictures of herself and her friends. Ugly, unpolished photos, depicting actions far more ordinary than was expected of someone her status. Her profile repelled—and at the same time fed—the frenzied appetite for gossip.  Translated into a spasmodic hunt for clues that would reveal her luxurious lifestyle, fans were digging into the folds of her personal online narrative. Why were these people using Instagram in the exact opposite way it was meant to? Why were they, on purpose, offering their audience something so ambiguous and unreadable?
Today’s users have more than absorbed the aesthetics of the undecipherable, causing its rules to be able to spill over into every field of the visual landscape: design, fashion, beauty, performative and figurative art. But the intense adoration for entropyposting—the impulse of sharing non-decodable and unreadable information online—goes far beyond the luminescent hyperpop-esque imagery cleverly manufactured by Drain Gang. And far deeper than any product that lo-fi aesthetics has ever spawned. As much as I recollect its form, entropyposting doesn’t even resemble the primitive act of “Instagram dumping”, sometimes affiliated with Shitposting. The latter is about an effortless, unbothered, post-ironic narration: it is about merging into the chasm of images online. Entropyposting is exactly the opposite. It is cryptical, mysterious, sorcerous, and complex: it forces you to stop and take a pause from the chasm, trying to decrypt something. It is – if anything – closer to a method of pushing technology to its limits, generating useless content and making social interactions less clear and progressively more complicated.

There is something about the anti-glamourous attitude of these celebrities sharing unappealing, blurry, badly cropped, crooked, or extremely pixelated images that are reminiscent of the uncommitted and often boring way of dressing that some super-rich people like to be seen in public. As Caroline Busta writes in The internet didn’t Kill counterculture-you just won’t find it on Instagram: “Away from the parades, palaces, and disproportionate girths of modern-day strongmen like Viktor Orbán, Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, the most iconic features you’ll find among the big tech set are more likely to be a black turtleneck, a Patagonia fleece jacket, and the absence of handbags.” Busta suggests that “real power keeps a low profile because it doesn’t need a social media presence: it owns it.” This is one hypothesis: celebrities do not need to try. Their game has already been played, and their engagement stays unchanged. They do not follow the algorithm: they shape it.
The truth is that one cannot think of entropyposting (as we know it today) only as a way to betray the platform. Like every other Internet trend, entropyposting is far from being a rebellion against technological hegemony: rather, it is once again a disposable way of representing oneself online; a modus operandi ready to catch up with users all over the world until it disappears to make way for the next trend.
However, there is no limit when unreadability becomes the Zeitgeist: if it’s true celebrities narrate themselves in lowkey terms to betray their audience’s craving for information, the final stage of entropyposting resembles anything but a way to go unnoticed. The denial of gossip, glitz, and information pornography to the voyeuristic user has shown the latter something unfamiliar: if the ‘degree of disorder’ rises, it increases its non-readability and unpredictability. A rise in disorder corresponds to an increase in entropy, and entropy—understood as the measure of the complexity in a message—creates information. Clear information gives less information than a glossy non-entropic narrative would. Instead, a complex narrative generates curiosity, answers unasked questions, doesn’t stop at the surface, and triggers the creation of infinite possible worlds.
The key, then, is to find something that forces a break in the flow, that demands more attention. And in a world of perfectly structured Instagram reels, TikTok formats and trends, pre-packaged branded posts with their appropriate #adv hashtag, and social media management courses that teach step-by-step how to beat the algorithm, content slips by our attention as if it never laid on it before. The only way to resist? Increase the degree of disorder. Force the user to pause for more than the 2.5 seconds of maximum attention span calculated by social media analytics. Add entropifying to one’s own online narrative.

But the music industry is the cradle of more than just one aesthetic shift: the creepy Instagram profile of Sacramento trio Death Grips lends itself to entropyposting theories to such an extent that it may provide a visual essay for it. With music videos and album covers designed to trigger the madness and curiosity of Reddit users worldwide, the trio pioneered the art of entropyposting by paving the way for the L’Âge d’Or it is undergoing today (yes, all your friends have shared a still from the Guillotine video at least once, no matter the context). These are semantic stimuli that are impossible to categorize, and complex to approach except with a cynical, sneering, post-ironic attitude: authorless remnants on the fringes of that glossy Internet that you believe you rule at the click of a button, with its reassuring windows, annoying pop-ups and well-distributed hierarchies; interfaces whose every secret we are certain to know. 
The idea of the ‘digital wreckage’ has been pondered most of all by English experimental musician and visual artist Dean Blunt. It is shocking to trace his influence in so many musical scenes that have arisen in the very last few years in Europe: godfather of a certain sub-genre of avant-garde pop and, since 2012, founder of the music label World Music, Blunt is considered one of the most prolific figures in Internet music, famous for always imagining his production in a contradictory, ubiquitous, multifaceted aesthetic flow, where different stimuli overlap, refusing the dynamics of a market that conceives a musical product as a well-packaged object dictated by the reins of majors. 
Starting in the 2010s, the Insta account World Music released covers of hundreds of singles and mixtapes drawing on unprecedented art direction: pixelated screenshots from Facebook homes, photos downloaded from Google Images in the worst possible quality, underwhelming graphics created in Paint, triumphs of Comic Sansstretched emojis, and stock images. With those projects with such ambiguous visual identities released on Bandcamp, World Music declared itself against a hierarchy of images, – and music – poking fun at the somewhat clumsy care with which artists curated their projects, underestimating the fact that they would be dispersed across the web along with all the other nomadic images and sounds that take part in the stream. Dean Blunt and World Music caused a détournement: instead of trying to emerge, they were preoccupied with blending perfectly into the cacophonous landscape of information of all types and forms, to navigate the Web aimlessly, authorless, recipientless. That is, until the abstraction of the Black Metal album (apologies to Kanye West and his Donda, which came much later).

Direct descendants of Dean Blunt’s heritage, the Spanish visual artist duo Fomotrauma, associated with the Spanish label Rusia IDK, is the best example of the impact of world music operations on digital natives: a new school of artists that take their cue from the exauthoring of newly created images, ready instead to give context back to the precious digital junk that is destined to be lost and rediscovered in an endless cycle of downloads and screenshots.

 from Fomotrauma’s Instagram profile.
In the paranoid loop of content suggested to users according to their darkest inclinations, new generations of users are interested in bringing backscattered images, giving entropy to the interface to try and break free from a constrained system, and bringing uncertainty back into preconfigured patterns. The Internet has always been spoken of as something extremely close to magic, a black box of spectres that has more in common with ghosts than with codes. But how much abstraction is allowed in a system made of interfaces?
Entropyposting is a practice of compressions, reiterations, confused processes, of fascination with all visual impulses that are difficult to place, with no point of departure and therefore no point of arrival. Something that resembles the immateriality of a GAN-generated image or a portrait by Gerhard Richter, who worked on that inaccessibility that only mass-media reproduction can give to an image. Or even as in the case of American photographer Thomas Ruff’s JPEGs series, – composed of images downloaded from the Internet and resized to worsen their quality to the maximum – or the spray paintings by Turin-based artist WOC, which crudely reproduces iconic pop culture images by worsening something we’d be able to enjoy in 4K. 
The world of art microcelebrities has more than absorbed the spirit of the times of which entropyposting is the child: the highly followed profiles of art director Ben Ditto (or as Interview Mag recently called him, “The Renaissance Man of the Internet Age“) seem like dark portals to gore, horror, and ironic images, all fused together in an exquisitely pop way. The founder and editor-in-chief of Coeval MagazineDonald Gjoka, holds the same power: his Internet activity enraptures and confuses, portraying an online dimension where AI-created images, post-ironic memes, and childish drawings coexist on the same surface.

 JPEG, Thomas Ruff
Debunking the idea that every trend is destined to disappear over time, the aesthetic trend that has most powerfully devirtualized the practice of Entropyposting is definitely permanent: tattoos. The aesthetic has translated its hallmarks into messy, twisted, web-like designs that resemble time-worn manuscripts or the glitchy interface of a poorly designed website. In the world of moving images, director Ryan Trecartin embodies the beating heart of entropyposting practices by presenting himself as a leader of chaotic imaginaries and a narrator of worlds of absolute digital schizophrenia, where every scene seems to come straight from a home video shot by teenagers caught in collective hysteria, or from the darkest corners of the deep web. 
For the same reasons, meme culture has begun to revolve around cryptic infographics and all-text images. As Biz Scherbert explains in the essay Intimacy and the Machine: Godposting – or: New Internet Esotericism, today’s kabbalistic graphics macerate and reject hyper-readability by swallowing perfectly curated, user-friendly blocks of text and turning them into something deliberately hard to read, something viscous enough to tickle the brain’s grooves before thought slips over them and is already clicking on the next story.” In Talk Magazine, writer Alexi Alario adds, “that’s why the unnecessary complexity and baroqueness of these charts are so appealing: because they force us to spend time decoding something.” 
Sans Serif? Out. Deep-fried fonts and overlapping elements? In. And no, sorry, you will not be able to consume this meme in 0.3 seconds. You’ll have to wait and read the whole thing before (maybe) you can be rewarded with a dopamine rush.

dai profili @3rd.world.elite, @welcometomymemepage, @paranoiastate
The visual landscape has completely changed. Tired of the vulgar, didactical, and all-too-obvious content that TikTok stars keep shoving down our throats, we now know that we have to aim for closure, restlessness, mystery, for silence. We want to decode, not be decoded.
In the essay In Defense Of The Poor Image, published in November 2009 for Issue #10 of e-flux, artist Hito Steyerl defined the implications of sharpness in establishing class privilege, where the “poor” image”, “a rag or a rip, an AVI or a JPEG, a file whose name is deliberately misspelled” is opposed to the privileged position of high resolution, (“Focus is identified as a class position”), legitimizing itself in opposition with the violent dislocation and circulation of audio-visual debris without credibility.
It is Hito Steyerl herself who points to an essential change, a major semiotic shift where the phenomenon of poor images fits perfectly: “On the one hand, [the poor image] works against the fetish value of high resolution. On the other hand, this is precisely why it ends up fitting perfectly into an information capitalism that thrives on compressed attention spans, on impression rather than immersion, on intensity rather than contemplation, on previews rather than visions.”
Born in response to the privatization of online narratives – where every post is commodified and serves to give a very specific piece of information – entropyposting is not structured to signify, but to counter-signify. Seeking to diverge, however, the territory of poor imagery lends itself to the more distinctive dynamics of capitalism: narratives lose matter and gain speed, and their inability to focus makes room for submissiveness.
Restoring importance to the magma of pixels by making fun of those same images and the way they spread so quickly is a way of feeling like the Web Makers of one’s own destiny, of restoring the Internet to something fickle, imperfect, failing, and non-corporate. If the promise of Web 3.0 is a user-centred Internet, the natural motion is to break up the interface or to go against it to the point of interference. But if the interface adapts, it grows new limbs, like a multifaceted self-regenerating monster.
Please, beware of your entropyposter friends who suddenly delete all the photos from their social media accounts, change their user name to an endless code of letters and numbers and suddenly share a blurry screenshot of a video game interface or the overexposed photo of a garbage dumpster seen on a back road to their parents’ house.
On the Internet, nothing is truly spontaneous or dictated by instinct. Our profiles are no different from the walls of an art gallery or museum: everything posted is a symbol of something that can be deciphered and understood in its context. Just like a ready-made that acquires new meaning when displayed in a fancy gallery, each of our enigmatic contents hides a secret message. We’re aiming to be obscure, to convince ourselves that we have finally come to understand something that no one else can ever come close to grasp. We have had enough of internet microtrends, the endless little niches that suddenly turn mainstream. We are tired of coming face to face with the fact that we are all, hopelessly, inevitably, the same. We long for individuality, not globalization. And the saddest thing? Instagram is far from saving us. Because nothing, absolutely nothing is too complex for users. And if entropy is the Zeitgeist, there is no secret anymore: we’ve discovered it already.

 Arianna Caserta (Rome, 2001) is a writer and researcher working with visual art, focusing on online identities and hybridization between cinema and internet culture. She holds a BA in cinema and is currently doing an MA in film studies at Roma Tre. 

Institute of Network Cultures
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