Talking Pictures, deep fakes and lizard brains.

‘It seems to me that some of us value information over wonder, and noise over silence. And I feel that we need a lot more wonder and a lot more silence in our lives’.

Fred Rogers.

Changing our mental state through targeted online content and the way that algorithms take control away from the user were the main points of discussion today.

One question that was raised during a discussion around our discomfort with the way in which targeted ads are a version of surveillance and the digital mining of our information was, how might we subvert this to fight against the problem to flip our thinking and turn the problem back on itself. The need to inform the wider global public about targeted info sharing through sound and accurate knowledge (such as in the film The Social Dilemma) is possibly one of the best ways to counteract it but in addition how can we ensure that the message is far reaching and appropriately delivered for different levels of privilege and threat?

 ‘Joy moves faster than sadness or disgust but nothing is speedier than rage’

Researchers from Beijing University

If rage engages us the most-  does the algorithm decide what enrages you the most and push content that feeds that rage? A heady mix of ‘Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and god –like technology’ (Dr E.O.Wilson the father of sociobiology) as we have seen, politically and socially, have pushed society into a state of polarization that it is hard to see how we will be able to re-calibrate and come together – what role will/can machines play in bringing the world to a more equal, egalitarian, kinder place?

Technology is dangerous when it overwhelms human weakness not human strength…..but also brilliant when it provides answers to real life problems such as advancements in medicine or in making people’s lives less arduous – AI prosthetic limbs for instance. In the same way how privileged do we want to be, what do we want to be taken away and what additions will make a positive difference?

Using the tokking heads technology it was obvious to see how easy it is to misinform and manipulate imagery, which we know, but seeing the technology that is freely available to do this was fascinating.

I used a photograph of the women’s rights campaigner and organiser of the suffragette movement Emmeline Pankhurst, who is from my home town of Manchester and who was instrumental in gaining women the right to vote in the UK, and voiced a small section of one of her speeches which the tokking heads programme animated.

I also thought I would have some fun with the programme and also put my voice over my granddaughters and sent it to my daughter (her mother) who was (not unexpectedly) freaked out by it!  

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