This special issue of spheres contributes to a critical engagement with the politics of reproduction, and as this relates to digital cultures in particular. Job losses, foreclosures, homelessness and dispossession, indebtedness, and rising precarity have shaped the realities of many in the wake of the Great Recession of the late-2000s. Although for many of course, an economic crisis – a crisis in the capacity to meet needs and desires in the context of scarce resources – long predates this point. It is these crises of social reproduction, and the emergence of social movements and struggles from within them, that provides the context in which much recent scholarship on the politics of reproduction has been produced and has circulated. It is also what has given it much of its urgency.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is arguably the new spectre of digital cultures. By filtering information out of existing data, it determines the way we see the world and how the world sees us. Yet the vision algorithms have of our future is built on our past. What we teach these algorithms ultimately reflects back on us and it is therefore no surprise when artificial intelligence starts to classify on the basis of race, class and gender. With this issue of spheres we want to focus on current discussions around AI, automation, robotics and machine learning, from an explicitly political perspective. Instead of invoking and, therefore, perpetuating the spectre of artificial intelligence as a ‘programmed vision’ built on our past, we are interested in tracing human and non-human agency within automated processes, discussing the ethical implications of machine learning, and exploring the ideologies behind the imaginaries of AI.
Our Issue #2: Ecologies of Change has received two new submissions: In an interview with Peter Krapp, Full Professor in the Department of Film & Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine, Eduardo Luersen and Guilherme Malo Maschke enter into conversation around his most recent book Noise Channels: Glitch and Error in Digital Culture (2011). In his accompanying comment “Visual, Ergonomic, and Fragmentary“, João Martins Ladeira traces Peter Krapp’s vision about the digital within his work. Have a look!