Virtual Discussion

Co-Opting AI: Photography

03/24 Thursday | 12pm

RSVP is required. Please RSVP here.

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge, the 370 Jay Project, and the NYU Tandon Department of Technology, Culture and Society invite you to a new discussion in the series “Co-Opting AI.

This event will examine the evolving relationship between photography, images, representation, and AI. 

Lorna Roth, Ph.D. is a Distinguished Professor Emerita and former Chairperson of the Department of Communication Studies, Concordia University, Montreal. Dr. Roth has been involved in Canadian broadcasting policy development and analysis, and has consulted with indigenous and multicultural/multiracial groups since the late seventies on issues of technology access, fair portrayal practices, bandwidth infrastructure distribution, human resource diversity, and minority representation at the level of employment. She is the author of Something New in the Air: The Story of First Peoples Television Broadcasting in Canada (2005). She has a long-standing interest in minorities in public and private media sectors, and has written extensively about the (de)construction of cultural and racial diversity in the media, as well as about identity persistence. Her current work examines how culturally-inflected design decisions are linked together in visual technologies and products that have a sense of flesh tone as central to their representation. A range of her articles document the historical and evolving ways in which skin color, as originally imagined and embedded in analog film emulsion and photographic lab practices, as well as in the iconic Shirley color-balance cards, have been color-adjusted and continue to challenge digital camera designers in an attempt to undo long-existing biases of light skin and create a wider range of skin tone colors as a new normal. Her second book “Color Balance: Race, Representation, and “Intelligent Design” which not only focuses on media, but discusses the biographies of a range of flesh-toned products, is in progress and will elaborate her original notion of cognitive equity, a new way of considering coded equity.

Rashed Haq is a Bangladeshi-American artist, scientist and technologist. He learned photography in the darkroom in Rochester, NY and was trained as a mathematical physicist, going on to do research in quantum cloaking, quantum computing and the physics of black holes. He then worked in Silicon Valley developing innovative applications of artificial intelligence, robotics and advanced analytics. He was nominated for the AI Innovator of the Year Award by AI Business in 2019, and published his book “Enterprise AI Transformation” with Wiley Press in 2020.  Rashed uses a combination of photography and software algorithms in his artistic practice, many of the techniques having been used in software engineering. He has recently had over 40 solo and group exhibitions across North America, and his work is in various private and corporate collections. He won the Art+Science award from Lenscratch, COMPAS photography award from Oxford University, and received honorable mention for the Carol Crow Fellowship at the Houston Center for Photography. A selection of his photographs were published by the “Center for American Architecture and Design”. An accomplished analytics and technology visionary, he has spent over 20 years helping companies transform and create sustained competitive advantage. With an eye toward the future and what’s possible at the intersection of technology, business, data, and algorithms, Rashed has spearheaded advanced analytics work to help companies create new products and services, generate revenue, cut costs, and reduce risk. He is the Vice President of Robotics at Cruise, one of the leading autonomous vehicle companies. Previously he was the Global Head of AI & Robotics and Group Vice President at Publicis Sapient, a global leader in digital transformation. Prior to Sapient, he conducted research in physics at the Los Alamos National Lab and the Institute for Theoretical Science. He has previously served on the AI Advisory Board of the Computing Technology Industry Association, and on the Board of Directors of FotoFest.

Mikael Owunna is a queer Nigerian American multi-media artist, filmmaker, and engineer. Exploring the intersections of visual media with engineering, optics, Blackness, and African cosmologies, his work seeks to elucidate an emancipatory vision of possibility that pushes people beyond all boundaries, restrictions, and frontiers. Owunna’s work has been exhibited across Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America and been collected by institutions such as the Nasher Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Equal Justice Initiative; Duke University Pratt School of Engineering; and National Taiwan Museum. His work has also been featured in media ranging from the New York Times to CNN, NPR, VICE, and The Guardian. He has lectured at venues including Harvard Law School, World Press Photo (Netherlands), Tate Modern (UK), and TEDx. Owunna has published two monographs: Limitless Africans (FotoEvidence, 2019) and Cosmologies (ClampArt, 2021). Owunna’s multi-media practice includes film, and in 2021 he directed the dance film Obi Mbu (The Primordial House): An Igbo Creation Myth with Marques Redd. Owunna’s work has been commissioned for major public art installations by organizations including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Foundation, Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh, Pittsburgh International Airport, and Orange Barrel Media.

Mona Sloane, Ph.D. is a sociologist working on design and inequality, specifically in the context of AI design and policy. She is a Senior Research Scientist at the NYU Center for Responsible AI, Faculty at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, a Fellow with NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge (IPK) and The GovLab, and the Director of the *This Is Not A Drill* program on technology, inequality and the climate emergency at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is principal investigator on multiple research projects on AI and society, and holds an affiliation as postdoctoral scholar with the Tübingen AI Center at the University of Tübingen in Germany. Mona founded and runs the IPK Co-Opting AI series at NYU and currently serves as editor of the technology section at Public Books. She holds a PhD in Sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Follow her on Twitter @mona_sloane.

The Co-Opting AI event series is convened by Mona Sloane. It is hosted at IPK and co-sponsored by the 370 Jay Project, and the NYU Tandon Department of Technology, Culture and Society.

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