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  • I'm an artist and an engineer.

  • And lately, I've been thinking a lot about how technology mediates

  • the way we perceive reality.

  • And it's being done in a superinvisible and nuanced way.

  • Technology is designed to shape our sense of reality

  • by masking itself as the actual experience of the world.

  • As a result, we are becoming unconscious and unaware

  • that it is happening at all.

  • Take the glasses I usually wear, for example.

  • These have become part of the way I ordinarily experience my surroundings.

  • I barely notice them,

  • even though they are constantly framing reality for me.

  • The technology I am talking about is designed to do the same thing:

  • change what we see and think

  • but go unnoticed.

  • Now, the only time I do notice my glasses

  • is when something happens to draw my attention to it,

  • like when it gets dirty or my prescription changes.

  • So I asked myself, "As an artist, what can I create

  • to draw the same kind of attention

  • to the ways digital media -- like news organizations, social media platforms,

  • advertising and search engines --

  • are shaping our reality?"

  • So I created a series of perceptual machines

  • to help us defamiliarize and question

  • the ways we see the world.

  • For example, nowadays, many of us have this kind of allergic reaction

  • to ideas that are different from ours.

  • We may not even realize that we've developed this kind of mental allergy.

  • So I created a helmet that creates this artificial allergy to the color red.

  • It simulates this hypersensitivity by making red things look bigger

  • when you are wearing it.

  • It has two modes: nocebo and placebo.

  • In nocebo mode, it creates this sensorial experience of hyperallergy.

  • Whenever I see red, the red expands.

  • It's similar to social media's amplification effect,

  • like when you look at something that bothers you,

  • you tend to stick with like-minded people

  • and exchange messages and memes, and you become even more angry.

  • Sometimes, a trivial discussion gets amplified

  • and blown way out of proportion.

  • Maybe that's even why we are living in the politics of anger.

  • In placebo mode, it's an artificial cure for this allergy.

  • Whenever you see red, the red shrinks.

  • It's a palliative, like in digital media.

  • When you encounter people with different opinions,

  • we will unfollow them,

  • remove them completely out of our feeds.

  • It cures this allergy by avoiding it.

  • But this way of intentionally ignoring opposing ideas

  • makes human community hyperfragmented and separated.

  • The device inside the helmet reshapes reality

  • and projects into our eyes through a set of lenses

  • to create an augmented reality.

  • I picked the color red, because it's intense and emotional,

  • it has high visibility

  • and it's political.

  • So what if we take a look

  • at the last American presidential election map

  • through the helmet?

  • (Laughter)

  • You can see that it doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican,

  • because the mediation alters our perceptions.

  • The allergy exists on both sides.

  • In digital media,

  • what we see every day is often mediated,

  • but it's also very nuanced.

  • If we are not aware of this,

  • we will keep being vulnerable to many kinds of mental allergies.

  • Our perception is not only part of our identities,

  • but in digital media, it's also a part of the value chain.

  • Our visual field is packed with so much information

  • that our perception has become a commodity with real estate value.

  • Designs are used to exploit our unconscious biases,

  • algorithms favor content that reaffirms our opinions,

  • so that every little corner of our field of view is being colonized

  • to sell ads.

  • Like, when this little red dot comes out in your notifications,

  • it grows and expands, and to your mind, it's huge.

  • So I started to think of ways to put a little dirt,

  • or change the lenses of my glasses,

  • and came up with another project.

  • Now, keep in mind this is conceptual. It's not a real product.

  • It's a web browser plug-in

  • that could help us to notice the things that we would usually ignore.

  • Like the helmet, the plug-in reshapes reality,

  • but this time, directly into the digital media itself.

  • It shouts out the hidden filtered voices.

  • What you should be noticing now

  • will be bigger and vibrant,

  • like here, this story about gender bias emerging from the sea of cats.

  • (Laughter)

  • The plug-in could dilute the things that are being amplified by an algorithm.

  • Like, here in this comment section,

  • there are lots of people shouting about the same opinions.

  • The plug-in makes their comments super small.

  • (Laughter)

  • So now the amount of pixel presence they have on the screen

  • is proportional to the actual value they are contributing to the conversation.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • The plug-in also shows the real estate value of our visual field

  • and how much of our perception is being commoditized.

  • Different from ad blockers,

  • for every ad you see on the web page,

  • it shows the amount of money you should be earning.

  • (Laughter)

  • We are living in a battlefield between reality

  • and commercial distributed reality,

  • so the next version of the plug-in could strike away that commercial reality

  • and show you things as they really are.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • Well, you can imagine how many directions this could really go.

  • Believe me, I know the risks are high if this were to become a real product.

  • And I created this with good intentions

  • to train our perception and eliminate biases.

  • But the same approach could be used with bad intentions,

  • like forcing citizens to install a plug-in like that

  • to control the public narrative.

  • It's challenging to make it fair and personal

  • without it just becoming another layer of mediation.

  • So what does all this mean for us?

  • Even though technology is creating this isolation,

  • we could use it to make the world connected again

  • by breaking the existing model and going beyond it.

  • By exploring how we interface with these technologies,

  • we could step out of our habitual, almost machine-like behavior

  • and finally find common ground between each other.

  • Technology is never neutral.

  • It provides a context and frames reality.

  • It's part of the problem and part of the solution.

  • We could use it to uncover our blind spots and retrain our perception

  • and consequently, choose how we see each other.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

I'm an artist and an engineer.

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テクノロジーが現実をどのようにフレーム化するかを明らかにするアート|李家宝 (Art that reveals how technology frames reality | Jiabao Li)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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