Decolonising Machine Vision: Algorithmic Anxieties and Epistemic Violence
Although regularly presented as an objective “view from nowhere”, Artificial Intelligence (AI) perpetuates a regime of western power that maintains neo-colonial violence. This is evident in the technological evolution and martial deployment of AI in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Lethal Autonomous Weapons systems (LAWs). Programmed into the such systems, the operative and rationalising logic of algorithms are complicit with reductive determinations of what constitutes life and death in conflict zones. Predicating the ascendant “black box” logic of AI, the historical evolution of autonomous image production continues to be central in, if not fundamental to, these processes and standard operating procedures. To critically address these and other concerns, we need to observe the extent to which colonial technologies—including triangulation mapping, aerial photography, photogrammetry and, more recently, “operational images”—invariably involve the delegation of the ocular-centric, corporeal and proprioceptive event of seeing (and thinking) to the autonomous realms of machine vision. The devolution of deliberative forms of seeing and thinking to algorithms not only reveals, this talk will propose, the calculated rendering of subjects in terms of their disposability, it also discloses a causal, if not fatal, link between colonial technologies of representation and the opaque realm of unaccountable apparatuses.
All photos: Miha Fras / Aksioma