Pedion Areos - Atene
24 / 06 / 2021 – 18 / 07 / 2021

As AI starts to shape our everyday lives, who shapes AI? How are we affected by machines making decisions we might not even be aware of?

You and AI: Through the Algorithmic Lens is a three-week festival by Onassis Stegi, with a public space exhibition, exploring how and by whom algorithmic systems are constructed and defined, and how they can impact and reshape society and our perception of the world.

The festival is centered around a physical exhibition at Pedion tou Areos park in Athens; a historically, politically, socially and environmentally important site, a public gathering and leisure space, but also a barometer of socioeconomic changes. With a program featuring online experiences, live events and debates, You & AI aims to initiate much needed conversation around an increasingly technological society and the challenges of the wide adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), algorithmic systems and machine decision making processes in everyday life.

From personal and home devices (smart assistants, light and temperature sensors, robot vacuum cleaners etc), AI applications have been rapidly expanding into public space. Systems that monitor and identify us, from surveillance, facial recognition and thermal imaging cameras to Wi-Fi tracking include some of the visible and invisible ways through which AI is implemented in public space. In a society often characterised by inequality, racism and unfairness, algorithmic systems and machine decision making processes are used to monitor, profile and categorise the world creating a more predictable and controllable version of it. If AI and algorithmic systems are largely owned and controlled by a few, how can we reclaim this space creating infrastructures that are more transparent, fair, equitable and caring?

The public space exhibition at Pedion tou Areos park is divided in three thematic areas, presenting 25 works that include video and sound installations, as well as prints and physical objects:

AI, civic space, participation and democracy presents works that show worlds through artificial, invisible systems and new digital bureaucracies. Worlds that are increasingly quantified and categorised by algorithmic systems. Do we control the machine, or does the machine control us? Are we experiencing our surroundings differently through the eyes of the technologies that try to make sense of it?

Seeing and being seen through algorithms is exploring how algorithmic systems can usually interpret what they see in limited or monocultural ways, just like humans often do. AI is not neutral. Could we learn with machines to better understand our cosmos? Can AI become more fair or diverse?

Artificial, intelligence and nature raises questions around intelligence, creativity and our relationship with other species. In a contradictory way, AI as a consuming power of huge amounts of energy and environmental and human resources, it is often being deployed to understand or respond to environmental change. Can AI help us reimagine human and non-human relationships, “better” the planet, or recover lost species?