Tag Archives: politics

Let’s make friends with the robots

I wrote this post for Life | Art | Us on 17 May 2011. Click on the link at the bottom to read the full post.

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In his session Where the robots work, James Bridle led a provocative and inspiring talk about the role of robots in today’s society, and why he thinks we should make friends with them – sooner rather than later.

The proposition at the heart of James’ talk was the idea that for centuries we’ve built our cities and towns around our needs, but as technologies have advanced, the design of the world around us has started to shift towards the needs of our inventions, such as automobiles, electricity, networks, data and robots. The question is, have we managed to keep people at the centre of our decision-making? And do we really understand the implications of setting robots to work, behind closed doors.

Robots race camels

In 2005 the starting gun was fired for robotic jockeys in Qatar, as they set off on their very first camel race. Controlled by jockey operators from the sidelines, this premier fleet of robotic jockeys were instructed to pull reins to change direction and whip their camels to go faster and win!

Robot jockey racing in Quatar

Robot jockey racing in Quatar

Although this may sound and look quite ridiculous, the use of robots as camel jockeys represents an astonishing development in technology and human rights. The owners of racing camels in many regions of the Middle East have traditionally used children as jockeys because of their light weight; sometimes children as young as four years old. Faced with heightening pressure from human rights groups, Qatar outlawed the practice of child jockeys and looked to technology to keep their popular camel racing culture alive. The robotics firm K-Team in Switzerland came up with this ground-breaking solution and a new robot was born. Robot jockeys weigh-in at 57 pounds (26 kilograms) and cost about U.S. $5,500 each.

Interestingly, since Qatar handed their camel racing reigns over to robotic jockeys, both the United Arab Emirates and Oman have followed suit. So, in the last decade, robots have helped to ensure the future of this entertaining pass-time, and helped to end the exploitation of children involved in this activity. Go robots! Right?

Read this pot in full: Let’s make friends with the robots.

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The Future Of Money: Stowe Boyd talks to Christian Nold about The Bijlmer Euro

I wrote this post for InterventTech on 01 July 2009. Click on the link at the bottom to read the full post.

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BLOG EXTRACT – Stowe Boyd has launched a new interview series examining the future of money. He’s planning to talk with all sorts of people including artists (like Christian Nold), futurists (like Jamais Cascio), writers (like Bruce Sterling and Steven Berlin Johnson), economists, philanthropists, and all sorts of other people interested in where this is headed.

Here’s the second interview in this series with Christian Nold. Christian talks with Stowe about a recent project called The Bijlmer Euro, based in the Bijlmer District in South East Amsterdam. Commissioned by Imagine IC,

The Bijlmer Euro examines how cash transfer and trust networks function in the Bijlmer area. The aim of the project is to develop a prototype system for an alternative local currency that could support local development and work in conjunction with the Euro.

Watch the interview – The Future Of Money: Stowe Boyd talks to Christian Nold about The Bijlmer Euro.

Digital futures at Futuresonic 2009

I wrote this post for InterventTech on 19 May 2009. Click on the link at the bottom to read the full post.

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BLOG EXTRACT – Kicked off and driven by Stow Boyd, the Digital futures session at Futuresonic 09 was beautifully optimistic. The session explored new visions for the future based on behaviours and trends emerging from networked culture and raised some tricky questions about the importance of shared vision and collective decision making in successfully shaping the future we want.

Leading on this platform, Stow Boyd introduced the term Edglings to the Futuresonic audience.  Boyd first introduced Edglings on his blog /Message back in 2006 as a metaphor for a new kind of citizen. A citizen that he saw emerging as a result of the web. In Boyds view, this new kind of citizen is defined by a new worldview made possible by the internet and the possibility of extended interaction between many. Edglings hold a ‘glocalised’ perspective on the world (simultaneously local and global rather than national) and are attracted online because it provides a more egalatarian view of the world, the possibility to produce, consume and take part. On top of this networked communication online also provides a sense of personal empowerment that other publishing mediums cannot on the same scale, it enables people to talk about what matters to them, connect up with others and potentially ‘make a difference’ in some way. In terms of impact Boyd described Edglings as a movement underpinned by a common set of values. These values Boyd expressed, will help drive us toward a web culture that offers broader hope for humanity and the possibility of a survivable future. Wowser.

Read this post in full | Digital futures at Futuresonic.

Lynn Hershman Leeson in conversation with claire_w

I wrote this post for InterventTech on 28 February 2009. Click on the link at the bottom to read the full post.

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BLOG EXTRACT – If you visit InterventTech regularly or you’re connected to me on twitter, you’ll know that some of my time in the last couple of weeks has been spent interviewing the wonderful Lynn Hershman Leeson. The following interview took place in February 09 and occurred in an on-and-off fashion, via the magic of email!

Introducing ‘Curing the Vampire’

curing the vampire


Curing the Vampire by Lynn Hershman Leeson was commissioned by Kelli Dipple, curator of the Tate Intermedia Art programme. The work combines four interviews with a selection of inspiring guests, including Gilberto Gil, Elena Poniatowska, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Lawrence Lessig. The interviews are shot in a range of locations around the world and in the virtual world of Second Life.

Mixing networked interviews with the simulated environment, the interviewees and contributers explore interwoven themes of revolution, empowerment, technology and REMIX. Each interview examines how new and mass media mechanisms have generated change and how cultural and technological infrastructures have shaped the ability of individuals to have social and political impact.

Read this interview in full | Lynn Hershman Leeson in conversation with claire_w.

People Power: Art and Bio Ethics

I wrote this post for InterventTech on 9 November 2008. Click on the link at the bottom to read the full post.

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BLOG EXTRACT –

Arriving approximately 1hr late to BioCentre’s The Role of Arts in Democratic Policy Making event, I was none-the-less welcomed by event organisers, kindly shown to my seat and handed the obligatory ‘conference pack.’

On arriving at the National Theatre for this mini-con I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. On the one hand I knew I had a decent understanding and growing interest in the visual art and bioethic space (so I follow the work of Orlan, Marc Quinn, Stelarc and Critical Art Ensemble quite closely), but I also knew that I felt pretty clueless about how this afternoon would play out. What I would ultimately come away with. I’m pleased to say I was pleasantly surprised! The event was great, and attracted a really cross cutting audience.

Read this post in full | People Power: Art and Bio Ethics.