What the Robot Saw


Date: 2021-01-15


What The Robot Saw by Amy Alexander
Online gallery@calit2 exhibition and opening
Friday, January 15, 2021
Host: Amy Alexander
Time: 10:00am-12:00pm PST
10:00am Artist Talk with Amy Alexander
10:30am Introduce panelists and presentations on topic: Algorithmic bias and social media ranking algorithms with Memo Akten, Dr. Sophie Bishop, Dr. Aylin Caliskan, and Dr. Daniel James Joseph
11:15am Panel Discussion
11:45am Q&A

gallery@calit2 exhibition dates: 
Jan 15-March 12, 2021


Zoom Registration link: 

Live Stream link: 


Does the Internet suck? Or do just the parts we get to see suck?

Who gets seen on the internet and who doesn’t? What do we human and robot audiences make of one another’s performances as the talking heads we’ve become?

‘What the Robot Saw’ is an endless documentary by a social media robot. It’s a Sunday drive through the awkward intersections of performance, surveillance, voyeurism, and robots — in the age of the talking head. It depicts and describes the people and scenes it encounters — in the ways its algorithms have been trained to perceive them. It’s also a massively durational online robo-performance and archive.

A social media AI turned documentary filmmaker, the Robot continuously makes its way through the world of low engagement online video, carefully organizing and describing the people and scenes it features in its documentary. The film is constantly curated, edited, titled and archived algorithmically from among the least viewed and subscribed YouTube videos uploaded over the past several hours.

While on the one hand a robot documentary and generative durational performance, “What the Robot Saw” also documents the complicated relationship between the world’s surveillant and curatorial AI robots and the humans who are both their subjects and their stars.

More info at what-the-robot-saw.com.

Artist Bio:

Amy Alexander is an artist and professor who has been making computationally-based art projects since the mid-1990s. Over the years, Alexander has worked in net art, software art, computationally-based installation, audiovisual performance, film, video, music and information technology. Her research and practice focuses on how contemporary media – from performative cinema to social media – changes along with cultural and technological shifts. She has a particular interest in the cultural impact algorithmic bias and subjectivity and the potential for individual responses. Alexander has exhibited at museums, international festivals, in clubs and on the streets. She has written and lectured on software art, software as culture, and audiovisual performance, and she has served as a reviewer for festivals and commissions for new media art and computer music. She is a Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego. Alexander has a Master of Fine Arts in Film/Video from California Institute of the Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Rowan University of New Jersey.

Alexander’s projects have been exhibited at venues including The Whitney Museum, Prix Ars Electronica, Transmediale, SIGGRAPH, ISEA, Zero1, the New Museum, NIME, International Conference on Live Coding, and International Conference on Live Interfaces as well club performances including Sonar (Barcelona), First Avenue (Minneapolis) and Melkweg (Amsterdam). She has performed on the streets of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Zürich, and Aberdeen, Scotland. Her work has been discussed in publications including Wired, The New York Times, Slashdot, Ecrans, Leonardo, The Boston Globe and the Washington Post.

Speaker Bios:

Memo Akten is an artist, researcher and philomath from Istanbul, Turkey. He works with emerging technologies and computation to create moving images, compositions, large-scale responsive installations and performances. Fascinated by trying to understand the nature of nature and the human condition, he brings together fields such as biological and artificial intelligence, computational creativity, information theory, perception, consciousness, neuroscience, fundamental physics, cosmology, ritual and religion.

Akten received the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica for his work ‘Forms’ in 2013. He has exhibited and performed internationally at venues such as The Grand Palais’s “Artistes & Robots” in 2018 (Paris FR), The Barbican’s “More than human” in 2017 (London UK), the Victoria & Albert Museum’s landmark “Decode” exhibition in 2009 (London UK), the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (Moscow RU), Shanghai Ming Contemporary Art Museum (Shanghai CN), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo JP), Royal Opera House (London UK) and many others. He has also collaborated with celebrities such as Lenny Kravitz, U2, Depeche Mode and Professor Richard Dawkins.

Alongside his practice, Akten has currently completed a PhD (awaiting his Viva) at Goldsmiths University of London in artificial intelligence and expressive human-machine interaction (Meaningful Human Control of Generative Deep Neural Networks). He has also recently joined the Visual Arts department at University of California San Diego (UCSD) as Assistant Professor of Computational Arts.

Sophie Bishop is a Lecturer at King’s College London in Digital Marketing and Communications, in the Department of Digital Humanities. Her research looks at the feminist political economy of creative content production contingent to social media platforms. At the moment Bishop has two projects - one looking at discrimination enacted by brand safety software in influencer marketing industries, and one looking at the use of targeted Facebook advertising by female artists and creative practioners. Her work has been published work in academic journals including New Media & Society, Social Media + Society and Convergence. She organised the International symposium Algorithms for Her in 2020, and edited a special issue of the journal based on the symposium, which is now out in Feminist Media Studies. She has written for publications like Real Life, The Conversation, Paper Magazine and has appeared on podcasts for the BBC.
Aylin Caliskan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science, Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics at George Washington University. Caliskan's research interests lie in artificial intelligence (AI) ethics, AI bias, computer vision, natural language processing, and machine learning, with a strong interest in human computer interaction. She studies the impact of machine intelligence on society, especially threats to fairness, privacy, and democracy.  She investigates the reasoning behind biased AI representations and decisions by developing explainability methods that uncover and quantify human-like biases learned by machines. Building these transparency enhancing algorithms involves the use of machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision to interpret AI's co-evolution with society and gain insights on artificial and natural intelligence.
Dr. Daniel Joseph is a Senior Lecturer of Digital Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he researches the political economy and consumption of games, apps, and platforms. Joseph's prior research has focused on a variety of topics such as cultural and industrial policy related to the production of games, the politics of the digital game distribution platform Steam, and the role digital technology plays in Marxist crisis theory. He is a member of the App Studies Initiative, an international research network, where his current research focuses on digital inequalities and the effects of economic and cultural imperialism on the production and consumption of digital culture. Joseph has published articles in Social Media + Society, Games and CultureThe Canadian Journal of CommunicationTriple C, and Loading. He also is a freelance writer for magazines such as Motherboard, Jacobin, Real Life Mag, and Briarpatch.