A nice review of the Automate All The Things! symposium in Ljubljana, written by writer and curator Aude Launay, is now available on the Frech free magazine 02, both in print (Spring 2020, pp. 88 – 89) and online. Held on January 14 and 15, 2020 at the The Academy of Fine Arts and Moderna galerija, Ljubljana, Automate All The Things! is part of Hyperemployment programme.
“At the end of 2006, when everyone was starting to benefit from their 15 minutes of pixelated celebrity with the advent of the social network that we know, another platform was making a place for itself on another market, not that of hyper-individualization but, on the contrary, of the invisibilization of individuals, turning them into a crowd of anonymous dogsbodies exploited at will: Amazon Mechanical Turk. This “global, on-demand, 24×7 workforce,” as the website of the giant of the neo-gig economy1proclaims, is conceived as an actualization of the deception that was already simulating artificial intelligence in 1770,the famous Mechanical Turk who amazed the European elite by surpassing them in chess. Two and a half centuries later, artificial intelligence is still artificial and humans are still in the machine.Total automation remains a trick, so what has changed?It is around this question of humans “as invisible slaves of the machines” that curators Domenico Quaranta and Janez Janša brought together a panel of artist-researchers for an exciting symposium in mid-January, as part of the the year-long Hyperemployment programme they are organising for Aksioma, the ultra-dynamic project space in Ljubljana.” Go on reading on 02 magazine’s website.
In the current phase of late capitalism, we are experiencing a crucial contradiction every day. On the one hand, the increasing automation of productive processes is apparently making John Maynard Keynes’s promise of a post-work society not only more real, but also closer; on the other hand, labour – far from disappearing – is colonising and altering any given moment and aspect of our existence. The rise of precarious labour has freed us from the alienation of a permanent job, but has also made our lives more unstable and anxious, and is producing new social diseases. The increasing automation has made us more unemployed – a condition we are frantically trying to escape with micro-labours, turning us into “entrepreneurs of the self”.
After 25 years of the World Wide Web it has become commonplace that our life also happens in digital communication spaces.
But unease spreads in this digital life. While we’re using products by Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and find them useful and indispensable, we’ve become aware of the dominance of such big players. Their services form our thoughts and commodify the ideas of frienship and exchange. We do not surf the wild web anymore, but are fed with feeds, receiving more and more of the same, based on algorithmic extrapolations of our preferences. With the social media account we rent services, which we pay with our data and attention. With Edward Snowden’s disclosures awareness on the excessive government-surveillence and their link to private actors has also reached a broader public.