Marking the passing of a challenging year with a small dedication to everyone working hard on causes of transparency, democracy and openness. Let us celebrate the intertwining of communities and initiatives having positive impact on society today – and, setting aside our differences, so much potential in years to come. Let us entertain familiars of the past, respond to the present, look towards a defragmented future.
Another year of astounding public breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligences, initiating debate and involvement in topics of data ethics like never before, finally lets us make christmas cards like this with massively remixed art. The base layer above was made with the help of Stable Diffusion - an open source artificial intelligence algorithm based on the LAION dataset, the core of which is sketched on the blackboard. The image above was run on Nightcafé, and has a much different quality than the one above, made on DreamStudio - even though they are run with the same base query and algorithms. Choose your tool and journey forth in this new frontier.
In these busy times, it is not easy to visualize the complex network of organizations competing for volunteers, attention and donations - as we try to align on visions and joint initiatives of our digital society that may even seem contradictory, like the EMBaG Consultation from March and Data Protection Festival in December. Our common culture is the basis for mutual understanding. Their symbols were downloaded in SVG format, and overlaid with the open source tool Inkscape, and post-processing done in GIMP.
No logos or trademarks are meant any harm in the image - they are borrowed with artistic intent. Every one of those symbols is a gift, a group of people that I relate to in the recent past with gratitude, and look up to with anticipation. Did you find all 24? I plan to update this blog post with hints and links on January 1. Feel free to zoom into a 2022 x 2023 pixel rendering and sources (CC BY-SA). You can also find a NO LOGO version on Deviantart.
Through dreams and artistic visions, we are reminded of the people we are here to support, today. As part of a project creating safe spaces for homeless and displaced women, a person living down the road in Bern wrote some deep thoughts in Journal B, translated below with help of DeepL, another artificial intelligence amplifying and mediating cultures:
Give unconditionally. Support with heart and soul. Stay patient.
Put your needs aside sometimes.
Yet, always in such a way that you remain in balance.
You are not helping anyone if you are not looking after your own wellbeing.
Be gentle with yourself, and others.
By understanding the psychology of conflict and practicing mediation in everyday situtions, we can take steps to rebuild our peace. Then we can come out. And only then, we can unite against hate (UN 21.12.22), counteract the new era of violence we live in, prepare for a future of climate change becoming "all-pervasive, affecting everyone, and insinuating itself into every aspect of our lives" (WIRED 24.12.22).
Perhaps AI could help us prioritise our giving: as a small act of kindness, please consider sparing what you can to alleviate suffering and trauma of a brutal winter in nearby Ukraine, or support other humanitarian response projects that document their impact well. I used QuillBot's summarizer to boil down the stories of several fundraisers to one paragraph, to choose this one:
We are raising money to buy generators for at-risk Ukrainians, particularly in the east of the country. Generators are used for basic amenities and communication in areas near the frontline, in rural communities and in field hospitals. They are currently extremely hard to source and very expensive in Ukraine. The supply of generators - even outside Ukraine - is very limited at the moment. If we cannot source generators the money will be spent on other items, for example lithium batteries or sleeping bags.
In a Christmas lunch with friends and family, the topic of ChatGPT came up (of course). So I started chatting to it about our concerns, asking some pointed questions about what to expect in years to come. For instance, on trusting machines with decisions ...
On fair attribution ...
Or good challenges for a hackathon ...
Or even some festive coding (Source)...
Symbols - whether iconic, written or encoded - are reminders of our shared culture, and can be a first step towards reconnecting and trusting. Let's just remember to lift the corner, look under the sticker, and consider the past, present and future of our cause. This, coupled with a shared culture and artistic vision, might help us to be less of a Scrooge with data - sharing the wealth in digitally humane ways.
Write me a note on email or Mastodon with something on your mind - or your A.I.'s. Wishing you and yours a peaceful, rejuvenating and fulfilling holiday ☄️