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Decolonizing Technologies

Speculative Fiction Workshop

Saturday, 07 Mar 2020

Contemporary information and communication technologies pretend to bind the whole world together enforcing permanent contentedness and “always-online” as the only right way of living. The IT enthusiasts promote apps, AIs, bots and other web-based tools as “ubiquitous” solutions to almost every problem that our planet is facing today. But what if these problems are symptoms of the paradigm in which these technologies have been thought and built? What if their very design and ontology bears in itself the cultural hegemony of the Global North?

In this workshop we want to propose a collective deconstruction of contemporary Internet-based technologies in terms of their cultural, racial, ethnic and other biases. This deconstruction will happen in three stages:

First, we will start with a brief introduction on history and philosophy of “western science and technology”, unboxing the attitude to Nature as an “object” (res extensae), as a “tool” to reach ambitious goals of the expanding civilization. We will then question the contemporary “humanitarian tech”, that has never really abandoned the paradigm of Enlightenment, with dozens of “missionary” startups that pretend to bring high tech solutions to “third world” problems.

Second, we will compare the “making for” and “making with”, as two different attitudes to designing technologies. We will present several projects that have been developing together by and with the indigenous populations of Mexico, India and other “non-western” countries. We will show a few pictures and videos from these projects and discuss what makes them different from the colonizing “start-up” approach mentioned before.

Third, we will engage the audience into speculative fiction process: we will propose a few challenges faced by several “non-western” regions (including environmental crisis, gender-related problems, economic difficulties) and will split into three groups to imagine a decolonizing tech solution to the given challenges. In the end of the workshop we will get together again to show our ideas and share critiques and feedback.

This workshop is part of Re-Imagine Europe.

Re-Imagine Europe

Foto (c): David Alabo

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