Co-Opting AI: Music

06/03 Thursday | 5pm

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NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge, the NYU Center for Responsible AI, and the 370 Jay Project invite you to a discussion on games in the series “Co-Opting AI.

This event will examine how music is entangled with technological innovation, and AI in particular, and how this is linked to the making and re-making of societal structures.

Thomas Irvine is a global historian of music with special interests in the British Empire, modern Germany, jazz, and Science and Technology Studies. He is currently a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute in London, the UK’s national research center for data science and artificial intelligence, where he leads the project “Jazz as Social Machine.” Irvine is a Non-Executive Director of the Southampton Web Science Institute. His monograph Listening to China: Sound and the Sino-Western Encounter 1770-1839 was published by University of Chicago Press in April 2020. This project was supported in 2015-2016 by a Mid-Career Fellowship of the British Academy. His co-edited book (with the historian Neil Gregor), Dreams of Germany: Musical Imaginaries from the Concert Hall to the Dance Floor, was published in 2018 by Berghahn Books.

Robin James is Associate Professor of Philosophy at UNC Charlotte and co-editor of The Journal of Popular Music Studies. She is author of three books: The Sonic Episteme: acoustic resonance, neoliberalism, & biopolitics (Duke University Press, 2019), Resilience & Melancholy: pop music, feminism, and neoliberalism (Zero, 2015), and The Conjectural Body: gender, race and the philosophy of music (Lexington Books, 2010). Her work on feminism, race, contemporary continental philosophy, pop music, and sound studies has appeared in venues such as The Guardian, LARB, BELT Magazine, The New Inquiry, SoundingOut!, Hypatia, differences, and the Journal of Popular Music Studies. She is currently working on three book projects: First, The Future of Rock and Roll: 97X WOXY and the fight for true independence. (Under contract with UNC Press). This is a book about the philosophy behind former modern rock radio station 97X FM/woxy.com. The station and its programming was driven by the idea that true independence is possible only when practiced with and for other people. The book argues that this idea of independence is what we need to fight the 21st century corporate mainstream, which is driven by the false idea that real independence is being left to fend for yourself. Second, Vibes, Moods and Feels: on the culture of speculative neoliberalism. This book is in many ways the follow-up to The Sonic Episteme. It argues that discourses of “vibez,” “mood,” “aesthetic,” and the like translate the calculative practices behind speculative (i.e., post-Gaussian) finance capitalism into the terms of popular culture. Third, a book on The B-52’s Cosmic Thing as a work of sonic speculative fiction. She loves dogs, gardening, running, and face-melting industrial techno.  You can listen to recordings of some of her lectures here. She is also a digital sound artist and musician, and also works as a member of citation:obsolete.

SAMMUS (Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo) is a rap artist and producer from Ithaca, NY with a PhD in science and technology studies from Cornell University. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Brown in the music department where she teaches courses on rap songwriting and feminist sound studies. Since 2010 SAMMUS has written, produced, and recorded three full-length albums (one of which has charted on Billboard), three EPs, a collaborative video-game themed concept album with the MC Mega Ran, a critically acclaimed beat tape, and countless one-off collaborations with artists from a variety of genres as well as video game developers, podcasters, and filmmakers. Her story as an artist at the intersections of academia and Afrofuturism has led to performances and speaking engagements at a range of conferences, conventions, festivals and campus events about her experiences as a hip hop artist, black feminist, Afrofuturist thinker, and artist/academic. Her live shows, characterized by her explosive energy and the inclusion of elements of cosplay, bring together a diverse array of activists, hip hop heads, punks, and self-identified nerds and geeks, among others. As noted by the Los Angeles Times, SAMMUS “has a gift for getting a message across.” Beyond her creative work, Enongo’s research interests include Black feminist sound studies, video game music and sound design, and hip hop studies and performance. Her doctoral research, which she completed in 2019, focuses on the sociotechnical dynamics that shape the development and use of “community-studios”—recording studios that provide high-quality recording tools, professional sound engineering services, and audio training to communities that often lack financial or social access to these resources. She is currently thinking and writing about the market dynamics that shape life for rap artists who work within video game music scenes. Since joining the game studio Glow Up Games as the Director of Audio in 2019, she has also been working with a team of artists and engineers to develop a rap composition feature in a mobile-game for the HBO scripted series Insecure. In the summer of 2020 she became a member of theKEEPERS, a Hip Hop collective that is currently developing the most comprehensive digital archive to map the international contributions of womxn and girls across Hip Hop’s 50-year history.

Mona Sloane is a sociologist working on inequality in the context of AI design and policy. She frequently publishes and speaks about AI, ethics, equitability and policy in a global context. Mona is a Fellow with NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge (IPK), where she convenes the Co-Opting AI series and co-curates the The Shift series. She also is a Senior Research Scientist at the NYU Center for Responsible AI, an Adjunct Professor at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, and is part of the inaugural cohort of the Future Imagination Collaboratory (FIC) Fellows at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Mona is the technology editor of Public Books, and is a fellow at The GovLab. Her most recent project is Terra Incognita: Mapping NYC’s New Digital Public Spaces in the COVID-19 Outbreak which she leads as principal investigator. Mona currently also serves as principal investigator of the Procurement Roundtables project, a collaboration with Dr. Rumman Chowdhury (Director of Machine Learning Ethics, Transparency & Accountability at Twitter, Founder of Parity), and John C. Havens (IEEE Standards Association) that is focused on innovating AI procurement to center equity and justice. Mona also works with Emmy Award-winning journalist and NYU journalism professor Hilke Schellmann on hiring algorithms, auditing, and new tools for investigative journalism and research on AI. With Dr. Matt Statler (NYU Stern), Mona is also leading the Public Interest Technology Convention and Career Fair project that looks to bring together students and organizations building up the public interest technology space. Mona is also affiliated with the Tübingen AI Center in Germany where she leads a 3-year federally funded research project on the operationalization of ethics in German AI startups. She has written for The Guardian, MIT Technology Review, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, OneZero Medium, and other outlets. Mona holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science and has completed fellowships at the University of California, Berkeley, and at the University of Cape Town. Follow her on Twitter @mona_sloane.

The Co-Opting AI event series is convened by Mona Sloane. They are hosted at IPK and co-sponsored by the 370 Jay Project and the NYU Center for Responsible AI.

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