How art, games and stories can help us develop ethical machine vision

Jill Walker Rettberg
10:15 - 11:15
Visual Computing Forum

Professor Jill Walker Rettberg is the principal investigator of “Machine Vision in Everyday Life: Playful Interactions with Visual Technologies in Digital Art, Games, Narratives and Social Media”, a five year, ERC-funded project that explores how new algorithmic images are affecting us as a society and as individuals.

In this talk Rettberg will describe how she and her team are using distant reading and network analysis to develop a big picture of cultural discourse about machine vision technologies. These new technologies are developing faster than discussions about how we want to use them in society, and the implementation is leading to many challenges for society and individuals. Should facial recognition be regulated or banned outright? Should schools or employers use data gleaned from emotion detection of students’ faces to discipline them, for instance for not paying attention, or sniggering inappropriately? How should we handle deepfake videos of politicians during an election campaign? Many of these dilemmas are explored in fiction, art and games well before real-world situations arise. For instance, the 2019 movie Spiderman: Far From Home explores the implications of combining advanced augmented reality technologies with military drones. The art/game/app TendAR (Samantha Gorman, 2018) allows users to tend a virtual fish that must be fed facial expressions. In games like Watchdog and Republique the whole gameplay is controlled through surveillance cameras.

The Machine Vision project team is building a database with information about many examples of movies, novels, games and artworks that either use or reference machine vision technologies. They are developing a coding scheme to capture the attitudes to machine vision in different situations in these works, and to capture information about which technologies are represented, and what kinds of people are represented as using the technologies or being involved with them. In this talk, Rettberg will show examples of works and discuss early results from the network analysis of the data being collected. She will also explain how this part of the project will be supplemented by theoretical and historical research, by close readings of art, games and narratives, and by an ethnographic survey of users and developers of machine vision technologies. The ultimate goal of the Machine Vision project is to provide knowledge needed to support the development of more ethical, fair technology.

JILL WALKER RETTBERG is Professor of Digital Culture at the University of Bergen and Principal Investigator of the ERC Consolidator grant Machine Vision in Everyday Life: Playful Interactions with Visual Technologies in Digital Art, Games, Narratives and Social Media (2018-2023). She is the author of Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves (Palgrave 2014), Blogging (Polity 2008, 2nd ed 2014) and co-editor of Digital Culture, Play, and Identity: A World of Warcraft Reader (MIT Press 2008). Jill has won awards for her use of social media in research dissemination, and been a research blogger at since 2000. She is @jilltxt on most social media.

Location:Thormøhlens gate 51 (VilVite), Konferanserom C MazeMap