Tag Archives: Simon Fraser University (SFU)

March 6, 2024 Simon Fraser University (SFU) event “The Planetary Politics of AI: Past, Present, and Future” in Vancouver, Canada

This is not a free event; they’ve changed the information about fees/no fees and how the fees are being assessed enough times for me to lose track; check the eventbrite registration page for the latest. Also, there will not be a publicly available recording of the event. (For folks who can’t afford the fees, there’s a contact listed later in this posting.)

First, here’s the “The Planetary Politics of AI: Past, Present, and Future” event information (from a January 10, 2024 Simon Fraser University (SFU) Public Square notice received via email),

The Planetary Politics of AI: Past, Present, and Future

Wednesday, March 6 [2024] | 7:00pm | In-person | Free [Note: This was an error.]

Generative AI has dominated headlines in 2023, but these new technologies rely on a dramatic increase in the extraction of data, human labor, and natural resources. With increasing media manipulation, polarizing discourse, and deep fakes, regulators are struggling to manage new AI.

On March 6th [2024], join renowned author and digital scholar Kate Crawford, as she sits in conversation with SFU’s Wendy Hui Kyong Chun. Together, they will discuss the planetary politics of AI, how we got here, and where it might be going.

A January 11, 2024 SFU Public Square notice (received via email) updates the information about how this isn’t a free event and offers an option for folks who can’t afford the price of a ticket, Note Links have been removed,

The Planetary Politics of AI: Past, Present, and Future

Wednesday, March 6 | 7:00pm | In-person | Paid

Good morning,

We’ve been made aware that yesterday’s newsletter had a mistake, and we thank those who brought it to our attention. The March 6th [2024] event, The Planetary Politics of AI: Past, Present, and Future, is not a free event and has an admission fee for attendance. We apologize for the confusion.

Whenever possible, SFU Public Square’s events are free and open to all, to ensure that the event is as accessible as possible. For this event, there is a paid admission, with a General and Student/Senior Admission option. That being said, if the admission fees are a barrier to access, please email us at psqevent@sfu.ca. Exceptions can be made. [emphasis mine]

Thank you for your understanding!

“The Planetary Politics of AI: Past, Present, and Future” registration webpage on eventbrite offers more information about the speakers and logistics,

Date and time

Starts on Wed, Mar 6, 2024 7:00 PM PST

Location

Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema (SFU Vancouver — Woodward’s Building) 149 W Hastings Street Vancouver, BC V6B 1H7

[See registration page for link to map]

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 7 days before event

About the speakers

Kate Crawfordis a leading international scholar of the social implications of artificial intelligence. She is a Research Professor at USC Annenberg in Los Angeles, a Senior Principal Researcher at MSR in New York, an Honorary Professor at the University of Sydney, and the inaugural Visiting Chair for AI and Justice at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. Her latest book, Atlas of AI (Yale, 2021), won the Sally Hacker Prize from the Society for the History of Technology, the ASSI&T Best Information Science Book Award, and was named one of the best books in 2021 by New Scientist and the Financial Times.

Over her twenty-year research career, she has also produced groundbreaking creative collaborations and visual investigations. Her project Anatomy of an AI System with Vladan Joler is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the V&A in London, and was awarded with the Design of the Year Award in 2019 and included in the Design of the Decades by the Design Museum of London. Her collaboration with the artist Trevor Paglen, Excavating AI, won the Ayrton Prize from the British Society for the History of Science. She has advised policy makers in the United Nations, the White House, and the European Parliament, and she currently leads the Knowing Machines Project, an international research collaboration that investigates the foundations of machine learning. And in 2023, Kate Crawford was named on of the TIME100 list as one of the most influential people in AI.

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun is Simon Fraser University’s Canada 150 Research Chair in New Media, Professor in the School of Communication, and Director of the Digital Democracies Institute. At the Institute, she leads the Mellon-funded Data Fluencies Project, which combines the interpretative traditions of the arts and humanities with critical work in the data sciences to express, imagine, and create innovative engagements with (and resistances to) our data-filled world.

She has studied both Systems Design Engineering and English Literature, which she combines and mutates in her research on digital media. She is author many books, including: Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (MIT, 2006), Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (MIT 2011), Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media (MIT 2016), and Discriminating Data: Correlation, Neighborhoods, and the New Politics of Recognition (2021, MIT Press). She has been Professor and Chair of the Department of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, where she worked for almost two decades and is currently a Visiting Professor. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and has also held fellowships from: the Guggenheim, ACLS, American Academy of Berlin, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.

I’m wondering if the speakers will be discussing how visual and other arts impact their views on AI and vice versa. Both academics have an interest in the arts as you can see in Crawford’s event bio. As for Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, in my April 23, 2021 posting where if you scroll down to her name, (about 30% of the way down), you’ll see she was involved with “Multimedia & Electronic Music Experiments (MEME),” History of Art and Architecture,” and “Theatre Arts and Performance Studies” at Brown University.

A February 12, 2024 SFU Public Square announcement (received via email), which includes a link to this Speaker’s Spotlight webpage (scroll down), suggests my speculation is incorrect,

For over two decades, Kate Crawford’s work has focused on understanding large scale data systems, machine learning and AI in the wider contexts of history, politics, labor, and the environment.

Her latest book,  Atlas of AI (2021) explores artificial intelligence as the extractive industry of the 21st century, relying on vast amounts of data, human labour, and natural resources. …

One more biographical note about Crawford, she was mentioned here in an April 17, 2015 posting, scroll down to the National Film Board of Canada subhead, then down to Episode 5 ‘Big Data and its Algorithms’ of the Do Not Track documentary; she is one of the interviewees. I’m not sure if that documentary is still accessible online.

Back to the event, to get more details and/or buy a ticket, go to: “The Planetary Politics of AI: Past, Present, and Future” registration webpage.

Or, SFU is hosting its free 2023 Nobel Prize-themed lecture at Science World on March 6, 2024 (see my January 16, 2024 posting and scroll down about 30% of the way for more details).

Simon Fraser University’s (SFU; Vancouver, Canada) Café Scientifique Winter/Spring 2024 events + a 2023 Nobel-themed lecture

There are three upcoming Simon Fraser University (SFU) Café Scientifique events (Zoom) and one upcoming Nobel=themed lecture (in person) according to a January 15, 2024 notice (received via email), Note: All the events are free,

Hello SFU Cafe Scientifique friends!

We are back with a brand new line up for our Cafe Scientifique discussion series.  Zoom invites will be sent closer to the event dates [emphasis mine].  We hope you can join us.

All event information and registration links on this page: https://www.sfu.ca/science/community.html

Café Scientifique: Why Do Babies Get Sick? A Systems Biology Approach to Developing Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Neonatal Sepsis. 

Tuesday, January 30, 5:00-6:30pm over Zoom 

Around the world five newborn babies die each second from life-threatening infections. Unfortunately there is no fast or easy way to tell which microbes are involved. Molecular Biology and Biochemistry assistant professor Amy Lee will share how we can use genomics and machine learning approaches to tackle this challenge.
Register here. https://events.sfu.ca/event/38235-cafe-scientifique-january-why-do-babies-get-sick?

Cafe Scientifique: From data to dollars: A journey through financial modelling
Tuesday, February 27, 5:00-6:30 pm over Zoom 

Financial modelling involves using mathematical and statistical techniques to understand future financial scenarios, helping individuals and businesses make informed decisions about their investments. Join Dr. Jean-François Bégin as he explores how these models can empower us to navigate the complexities of financial markets.

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/763521010897

Cafe Scientifique: Overtraining and the Everyday Athlete
Tuesday, April 30, 5:00-6:30 pm over Zoom 

What happens when we train too hard, don’t take enough time to recover, or underfuel while exercising, and how that applies to both elite athletes and just your “everyday athlete.” Join Dr. Alexandra Coates from our Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology Department in this interesting discussion.

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/763521010897

Missed our last Café Scientifique talk [Decoding how life senses and responds to carbon dioxide gas] with Dustin King? [SFU Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Assistant Professor Dustin King’s Indigenous background is central to his work and relationship with the biochemical research he conducts. He brings Indigenous ways of knowing and a two-eye seeing approach to critical questions about humanity’s impact upon the natural world …] Watch it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCHTSbF3RVs&list=PLTMt9gbqLurAMfSHQqVAHu7YbyOFq81Ix&index=10

The ‘2023 Nobel Prize Lectures’ being presented by SFU do not feature the 2023 winners but rather, SFU experts in the relevant field, from the January 15, 2024 SFU Café Scientifique notice (received via email),

BACK IN-PERSON AT THE SCIENCE WORLD THEATRE!

Location: Science World Theatre 1455 Quebec Street Vancouver, BC V6A 3Z7

NOBEL PRIZE LECTURES  

Wednesday, March 6, 2024 

6:30-7:30 pm Refreshments, 7:30-9:30 pm Lectures 

Celebrate the 2023 Nobel awardees in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine!

SFU experts will explain Nobel laureates’ award-winning research and its significance to our everyday lives. 

Featured presenters are

*Mark Brockman from Molecular Biology and Biochemistry for the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology;

*Byron Gates from Chemistry for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry; and

*Shawn Sederberg from the School of Engineering Science for the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/nobel-prize-lectures-tickets-773387301237

For anyone who has trouble remembering who and why the winners were awarded a 2023 Nobel Prize, here’s a nobleprize.org webpage devoted to the 2023 winners.

XoMotion, an exoskeleton developed in Canada causes commotion

I first stumbled across these researchers in 2016 when their project was known as “Wearable Lower Limb Anthropomorphic Exoskeleton (WLLAE).” In my January 20, 2016 posting, “#BCTECH: being at the Summit (Jan. 18-19, 2016),” an event put on by the province of British Columbia (BC, Canada) and the BC Innovation Council (BCIC), I visited a number of booths and talks at the #BC TECH Summit and had this to say about WLLAE,

“The Wearable Lower Limb Anthropomorphic Exoskeleton (WLLAE) – a lightweight, battery-operated and ergonomic robotic system to help those with mobility issues improve their lives. The exoskeleton features joints and links that correspond to those of a human body and sync with motion. SFU has designed, manufactured and tested a proof-of-concept prototype and the current version can mimic all the motions of hip joints.” The researchers (Siamak Arzanpour and Edward Park) pointed out that the ability to mimic all the motions of the hip is a big difference between their system and others which only allow the leg to move forward or back. They rushed the last couple of months to get this system ready for the Summit. In fact, they received their patent for the system the night before (Jan. 17, 2016) the Summit opened.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any pictures of WLLAE yet and the proof-of-concept version may differ significantly from the final version. This system could be used to help people regain movement (paralysis/frail seniors) and I believe there’s a possibility it could be used to enhance human performance (soldiers/athletes). The researchers still have some significant hoops to jump before getting to the human clinical trial stage. They need to refine their apparatus, ensure that it can be safely operated, and further develop the interface between human and machine. I believe WLLAE is considered a neuroprosthetic device. While it’s not a fake leg or arm, it enables movement (prosthetic) and it operates on brain waves (neuro). It’s a very exciting area of research, consequently, there’s a lot of international competition. [ETA January 3, 2024: I’m pretty sure I got the neuroprosthetic part wrong]

Time moved on and there was a name change and then there was this November 10, 2023 article by Jeremy Hainsworth for the Vancouver is Awesome website,

Vancouver-based fashion designer Chloe Angus thought she’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life after being diagnosed with an inoperable benign tumour in her spinal cord in 2015, resulting in permanent loss of mobility in her legs.

Now, however, she’s been using a state-of-the-art robotic exoskeleton known as XoMotion that can help physically disabled people self-balance, walk, sidestep, climb stairs and crouch.

“The first time I walked with the exoskeleton was a jaw-dropping experience,” said Angus. “After all these years, the exoskeleton let me stand up and walk on my own without falling. I felt like myself again.”

She added the exoskeleton has the potential to completely change the world for people with motion disabilities.

XoMotion is the result of a decade of research and the product of a Simon Fraser University spinoff company, Human in Motion Robotics (HMR) Inc. It’s the brainchild of professors Siamak Arzanpour and Edward Park.

Arzanpour and Park, both researchers in the Burnaby-based university’s School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering, began work on the device in 2014. They had a vision to enhance exoskeleton technology and empower individuals with mobility challenges to have more options for movement.

“We felt that there was an immediate need to help people with motion disabilities to walk again, with a full range of motion. At the time, exoskeletons could only walk forward. That was the only motion possible,” Arzanpour said.

A November 15, 2023 article (with an embedded video) by Amy Judd & Alissa Thibault for Global News (television) highlights Alexander’s story,

SFU professors Siamak Arzanpour and Edward Park wanted to help people with motion disabilities to walk freely, naturally and independently.

The exoskeleton [XoMotion] is now the most advanced of its kind in the world.

Chloe Angus, who lost her mobility in her legs in 2015, now works for the team.

She said the exoskeleton makes her feel like herself again.

She was diagnosed with an inoperable benign tumor in her spinal cord in 2015 which resulted in a sudden and permanent loss of mobility in her legs. At the time, doctors told Angus that she would need a wheelchair to move for the rest of her life.

Now she is part of the project and defying all odds.

“After all these years, the exoskeleton let me stand up and walk on my own without falling. I felt like myself again.”

There’s a bit more information in the November 8, 2023 Simon Fraser University (SFU) news release (which has the same embedded video as the Global News article) by Ray Sharma,

The state-of-the-art robotic exoskeleton known as XoMotion is the result of a decade of research and the product of an SFU spin off company, Human in Motion Robotics (HMR) Inc. The company has recently garnered millions in investment, an overseas partnership and a suite of new offices in Vancouver.

XoMotion allows individuals with mobility challenges to stand up and walk on their own, without additional support. When in use, XoMotion maintains its stability and simultaneously encompasses all the ranges of motion and degrees of freedom needed for users to self-balance, walk, sidestep, climb stairs, crouch, and more. 

Sensors within the lower-limb exoskeleton mimic the human body’s sense of logic to identify structures along the path, and in-turn, generate a fully balanced motion.

SFU professors Siamak Arzanpour and Edward Park, both researchers in the School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering, began work on the device in 2014 with a vision to enhance exoskeleton technology and empower individuals with mobility challenges to have more options for movement. 

“We felt that there was an immediate need to help people with motion disabilities to walk again, with a full range of motion. At the time, exoskeletons could only walk forward. That was the only motion possible,” says Arzanpour. 

The SFU professors, who first met in 2001 as graduate students at the University of Toronto, co-founded HMR in 2016, bringing together a group of students, end-users, therapists, and organizations to build upon the exoskeleton. Currently, 70 per cent of HMR employees are SFU graduates. 

In recent years, HMR has garnered multiple streams of investment, including a contract with Innovative Solutions Canada, and $10 million in funding during their Series A round in May, including an $8 million investment and strategic partnership from Beno TNR, a prominent Korean technology investment firm.

I decided to bring the embedded video here, it runs a little over 2 mins.,

You can find the Human in Robotics (HMR) website here.

AI for salmon recovery

Hopefully you won’t be subjected to a commercial prior to this 3 mins. 49 secs. video about the salmon and how artificial intelligence (AI) could make a difference in theirs and our continued survival,

Video caption: Wild Salmon Center is partnering with First Nations to pilot the Salmon Vision technology. (Credit: Olivia Leigh Nowak/Le Colibri Studio.)

An October 19, 2023 news item on phys.org announces this research, Note: Links have been removed,

Scientists and natural resource managers from Canadian First Nations, governments, academic institutions, and conservation organizations published the first results of a unique salmon population monitoring tool in Frontiers in Marine Science.

This groundbreaking new technology, dubbed “Salmon Vision,” combines artificial intelligence with age-old fishing weir technology. Early assessments show it to be remarkably adept at identifying and counting fish species, potentially enabling real-time salmon population monitoring for fisheries managers.

An October 19, 2023 Wild Salmon Center news release on EurekAlert, which originated the news item, provides more detail about the work,

“In recent years, we’ve seen the promise of underwater video technology to help us literally see salmon return to rivers,” says lead author Dr. Will Atlas, Senior Watershed Scientist with the Portland-based Wild Salmon Center. “That dovetails with what many of our First Nations partners are telling us: that we need to automate fish counting to make informed decisions while salmon are still running.” 

The Salmon Vision pilot study annotates more than 500,000 individual video frames captured at two Indigenous-run fish counting weirs on the Kitwanga and Bear Rivers of B.C.’s Central Coast. 

The first-of-its-kind deep learning computer model, developed in data partnership with the Gitanyow Fisheries Authority and Skeena Fisheries Commission, shows promising accuracy in identifying salmon species. It yielded mean average precision rates of 67.6 percent in tracking 12 different fish species passing through custom fish-counting boxes at the two weirs, with scores surpassing 90 and 80 percent for coho and sockeye salmon: two of the principal fish species targeted by First Nations, commercial, and recreational fishers. 

“When we envisioned providing fast grants for projects focused on Indigenous futurism and climate resilience, this is the type of project that we hoped would come our way,” says Dr. Keolu Fox, a professor at the University of California-San Diego, and one of several reviewers in an early crowdfunding round for the development of Salmon Vision. 

Collaborators on the model, funded by the British Columbia Salmon Recovery and Innovation Fund, include researchers and fisheries managers with Simon Fraser University and Douglas College computing sciences, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Gitanyow Fisheries Authority, and the Skeena Fisheries Commission. Following these exciting early results, the next step is to expand the model with partner First Nations into a half-dozen new watersheds on B.C.’s North and Central Coast.

Real-time data on salmon returns is critical on several fronts. According to Dr. Atlas, many fisheries in British Columbia have been data-poor for decades. That leaves fisheries managers to base harvest numbers on early-season catch data, rather than the true number of salmon returning. Meanwhile, changing weather patterns, stream flows, and ocean conditions are creating more variable salmon returns: uncertainty that compounds the ongoing risks of overfishing already-vulnerable populations.

“Without real-time data on salmon returns, it’s extremely difficult to build climate-smart, responsive fisheries,” says Dr. Atlas. “Salmon Vision data collection and analysis can fill that information gap.” 

It’s a tool that he says will be invaluable to First Nation fisheries managers and other organizations both at the decision-making table—in providing better information to manage conservation risks and fishing opportunities—and in remote rivers across salmon country, where on-the-ground data collection is challenging and costly. 

The Salmon Vision team is implementing automated counting on a trial basis in several rivers around the B.C. North and Central Coasts in 2023. The goal is to provide reliable real-time count data by 2024.

This October 18, 2023 article by Ramona DeNies for the Wild Salmon Center (WSC) is nicely written although it does cover some of the same material seen in the news release, Note: A link has been removed,

Right now, in rivers across British Columbia’s Central Coast, we don’t know how many salmon are actually returning. At least, not until fishing seasons are over.

And yet, fisheries managers still have to make decisions. They have to make forecasts, modeled on data from the past. They have to set harvest targets for commercial and recreational fisheries. And increasingly, they have to make the call on emergency closures, when things start looking grim.

“On the north and central coast of BC, we’ve seen really wildly variable returns of salmon over the last decade,” says Dr. Will Atlas, Wild Salmon Center Senior Watershed Scientist. “With accelerating climate change, every year is unprecedented now. Yet from a fisheries management perspective, we’re still going into most seasons assuming that this year will look like the past.”

One answer, Dr. Atlas says, is “Salmon Vision.” Results from this first-of-its-kind technology—developed by WSC in data partnership with the Gitanyow Fisheries Authority and Skeena Fisheries Commission—were recently published in Frontiers in Marine Science.

There are embedded images in DeNies’ October 18, 2023 article; it’s where I found the video.

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Wild salmon enumeration and monitoring using deep learning empowered detection and tracking by William I. Atlas, Sami Ma, Yi Ching Chou, Katrina Connors, Daniel Scurfield, Brandon Nam, Xiaoqiang Ma, Mark Cleveland, Janvier Doire, Jonathan W. Moore, Ryan Shea, Jiangchuan Liu. Front. Mar. Sci., 20 September 2023 Volume 10 – 2023 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2023.1200408

This paper appears to be open access.

Toronto’s ArtSci Salon hosts October 16, 2023 and October 27, 2023 events and the Fourth Annual Small File Media Festival in Vancouver (Canada) Oct. 20 – 21, 2023

An October 5, 2023 announcement (received via email) from Toronto’s ArtSci Salon lists two events coming up in October 2023,

These two Events are part of the international Leonardo LASER series
LASER Toronto is hosted by Nina Czegledy and Roberta Buiani

The Anthropocene Cookbook on October 16, 2023

[downloaded from: https://artscisalon.com/coms4208/]

From the Toronto ArtSci Salon October 5, 2023 announcement,

Oct 16 [2023], 3:30 PM [ET] 
The Anthropocene cookbook

with authors 
Zane Cerpina & Stahl Stenslie
Cerpina and Stenslie are the authors of
The Anthropocene Cookbook. How to survive in the age of catastrophes 

Join us to welcome Cerpina and Stenslie as they introduce us to their
book and discuss the future cuisine of humanity. To sustain the
soon-to-be 9 billion global population we cannot count on Mother
Earth’s resources anymore. The project explores innovative and
speculative ideas about new foods in the field of arts, design, science
& technology, rethinking eating traditions and food taboos, and
proposing new recipes for survival in times of ecological catastrophes.

To match the topic of their talk, attendees will be presented with
“anthropocene snacks” and will be encouraged to discuss food
alternatives and new networks of solidarity to fight food deserts,
waste, and unsustainable consumption.

This is a Hybrid event: our guests will join us virtually on zoom.
Join us in person at Glendon Campus, rm YH190 (the studio next to the
Glendon Theatre) for a more intimate community experience and some
anthropocene snacks. If you wish to join us on Zoom, please

register here

This event is part of a series on Emergent Practices in Communication,
featuring explorations on interspecies communication and digital
networks; land-based justice and collective care. The full program can be found here

This initiative is supported by York University’s Teaching Commons Academic Innovation Fund

Zane Cerpina is a multicultural and interdisciplinary female author,
curator, artist, and designer working with the complexity of
socio-political and environmental issues in contemporary society and in
the age of the Anthropocene. Cerpina earned her master’s degree in
design from AHO – The Oslo School of Architecture and Design and a
bachelor’s degree in Art and Technology from Aalborg University. She
resides in Oslo and is a project manager/curator at TEKS (Trondheim
Electronic Arts Centre). She is also a co-founder and editor of EE:
Experimental Emerging Art Journal. From 2015 to 2019, Cerpina was a
creative manager and editor at PNEK (Production Network for Electronic
Art, Norway).

Stahl Stenslie works as an artist, curator and researcher specializing
in experimental media art and interaction experiences. His aesthetic
focus is on art and artistic expressions that challenge ordinary ways of
perceiving the world. Through his practice he asks the questions we tend
to avoid – or where the answers lie in the shadows of existence.
Keywords of his practice are somaesthetics, unstable media,
transgression and numinousness. The technological focus in his works is
on the art of the recently possible – such as i) panhaptic
communication on Smartphones, ii) somatic and immersive soundspaces, and
iii) design of functional and lethal artguns, 3D printed in low-cost
plastic material.He has a PhD on Touch and Technologies from The School
of Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway. Currently he heads the R&D
department at Arts for Young Audiences Norway.

If you’re interested in the book, there’s the anthropocenecookbook.com, which has more about the book and purchase information,

The Anthropocene Cookbook is by far the most comprehensive collection of ideas about future food from the perspective of art, design, and science. It is a thought-provoking book about art, food, and eating in the Anthropocene –The Age of Man– and the age of catastrophes.

Published by The MIT Press [MIT = Massachusetts Institute of Technology]
| mitpress.mit.edu

Supported by TEKS
Trondheim Electronic Arts Centre
| www.teks.no

*Date changed* Streaming Carbon Footprint on October 27, 2023

Keep scrolling down to Date & location changed for Streaming Carbon Footprint subhead.

From the Toronto ArtSci Salon October 5, 2023 announcement,

Oct 27, [2023] 5:00-7:00 PM  [ET]
Streaming Carbon Footprint

with 
Laura U. Marks
and
David Rokeby

Room 230
The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences
222 College Street, Toronto

We are thrilled to announce this dialogue between media Theorist Laura U. Marks and Media Artist David Rokeby. Together, they will discuss a well known elephant in the room of media and digital technologies: their carbon footprint. As social media and streaming media usage increases exponentially, what can be done to mitigate their impact? are there alternatives?

This is a live event: our guests will join us in person.

if you wish to join us on Zoom instead, a link will be circulated on our website and on social media a few days before the event. The event will be recorded

Laura U. Marks works on media art and philosophy with an intercultural focus, and on small-footprint media. She programs experimental media for venues around the world. As Grant Strate University Professor, she teaches in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Her upcoming book The Fold: From Your Body to the Cosmos will be published I March 2024 by Duke University Press. 

David Rokeby is an installation artist based in Toronto, Canada. He has been creating and exhibiting since 1982. For the first part of his career he focussed on interactive pieces that directly engage the human body, or that involve artificial perception systems. In the last decade, his practice has expanded to included video, kinetic and static sculpture. His work has been performed / exhibited in shows across Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia.

Awards include the first BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award for Interactive Art in 2000, a 2002 Governor General’s award in Visual and Media Arts and the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica for Interactive Art 2002. He was awarded the first Petro-Canada Award for Media Arts in 1988, the Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction for Interactive Art (Austria) in 1991 and 1997.

I haven’t been able to dig up any information about registration but it will be added here should I stumble across any in the next few weeks. I did, however, find more information about Marks’s work and a festival in Vancouver (Canada).

Fourth Annual Small File Media Festival (October 20 -21, 2023) and the Streaming Carbon Footprint

First, let’s flip back in time to a July 27, 2021 Simon Fraser University (SFU) news release (also published as a July 27, 2021 news item on phys.org) by Tessa Perkins Deneault,

When was the last time you watched a DVD? If you’re like most people, your DVD collection has been gathering dust as you stream movies and TV from a variety of on-demand services. But have you ever considered the impact of streaming video on the environment?

School for the Contemporary Arts professor Laura Marks and engineering professor Stephen Makonin, with engineering student Alejandro Rodriguez-Silva and media scholar Radek Przedpełski, worked together for over a year to investigate the carbon footprint of streaming media supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

“Stephen and Alejandro were there to give us a reality check and to increase our engineering literacy, and Radek and I brought the critical reading to it,” says Marks. “It was really a beautiful meeting of critical media studies and engineering.”

After combing through studies on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and making their own calculations, they confirmed that streaming media (including video on demand, YouTube, video embedded in social media and websites, video conferences, video calls and games) is responsible for more than one per cent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. And this number is only projected to rise as video conferencing and streaming proliferate.

“One per cent doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s significant if you think that the airline industry is estimated to be 1.9 per cent,” says Marks. “ICT’s carbon footprint is growing fast, and I’m concerned that because we’re all turning our energy to other obvious carbon polluters, like fossil fuels, cars, the airline industry, people are not going to pay attention to this silent, invisible carbon polluter.”

One thing that Marks found surprising during their research is how politicized this topic is.

Their full report includes a section detailing the International Energy Association’s attack on French think tank The Shift Project after they published a report on streaming media’s carbon footprint in 2019. They found that some ICT engineers state that the carbon footprint of streaming is not a concern because data centres and networks are very efficient, while others say the fast-rising footprint is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Their report includes comparisons of the divergent figures in engineering studies in order to get a better understanding of the scope of this problem.

The No. 1 thing Marks and Makonin recommend to reduce streaming’s carbon footprint is to ensure that our electricity comes from renewable sources. At an individual level, they offer a list of recommendations to reduce energy consumption and demand for new ICT infrastructure including: stream less, watch physical media including DVDs, decrease video resolution, use audio-only mode when possible, and keep your devices longer—since production of devices is very carbon-intensive.    

Promoting small files and low resolution, Marks founded the Small File Media Festival [link leads to 2023 programme], which will present its second annual program [2021] of 5-megabyte films Aug. 10 – 20. As the organizers say, movies don’t have to be big to be binge-worthy.

Learn more about Marks’ research and the Small File Media Festival: https://www.sfu.ca/sca/projects—activities/streaming-carbon-footprint.html

And now for 2023, here’s a video promoting the upcoming fourth annual festival,

The Streaming Carbon Footprint webpage on the SFU website includes information about the final report and the latest Small File Media Festival. Although I found the Small File Media Festival website also included a link for purchasing tickets,

The Small File Media Festival returns for its fourth iteration! We are delighted to partner with The Cinematheque to present over sixty jewel-like works from across the globe. These movies are small in file size, but huge in impact: by embracing the aesthetics of compression and low resolution (glitchiness, noise, pixelation), they lay the groundwork for a new experimental film movement in the digital age. This year, six lovingly curated programs traverse brooding pixelated landscapes, textural paradises, and crystalline infinities.

TICKETS AND FESTIVAL INFO

Join us Friday, October 20 [2023] for the opening-night program followed by a drinks reception in the lobby and a dance party in the cinema, featuring music by Vancouver electronic artist SAN. We’ll announce the winner of the coveted Small-File Golden Mini Bear during Saturday’s [October 21, 2023] award ceremony! As always, the festival will stream online at small​file​.ca after the live events.

We’re most grateful to our future-forward friends at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Canada Council for the Arts, and SFU Contemporary Arts. Thanks to VIVO Media Arts, Cairo Video Festival, and The Hmm for generous distribution and exhibition awards, and to UKRAïNATV, a partner in small-file activism.

Cosmically healthy, community-building, and punk AF, small-file ecomedia will heal the world, one pixel at a time.

TICKETS

There we have it. And then, we didn’t

*Date & location change* for Streaming Carbon Footprint event

From an October 27, 2023 ArtSci Salon notice,

Nov 7, [2023] 5:00-7:00 PM 
Streaming Carbon Footprint

with 
Laura U. Marks
and
David Rokeby
 

Tuesday, November 7 [2023]
5:00-7:00 pm
The BMO Lab
15 King’s College Circle, room H-12
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3H7

Good luck to the organizers. It must have been nervewracking to change the date so late in the game.

Simon Fraser University’s (SFU; Canada) Café Scientifique Fall 2023 events: first event is Sept. 26, 2023

From a September 7, 2023 SFU Café Scientifique announcement of their Fall 2023 event schedule (received via email),

We hope you had a great summer and are all excited for a brand new fall line-up:

SFU Café Scientifique lectures and discussions on Zoom 

Tuesdays from 5:00-6:30pm, Zoom invites are sent to those who register.

Email cafe_scientifique@sfu.ca for inquires.

Sept 26, 2023 Vance Williams, Chemistry

Title: (Un)Natural Beauty: Art, Science and Technology

Description: While art is often described in opposition to science and technology, in reality, these disciplines are mutually supporting and reinforcing explorations of the natural and constructed world. In this presentation, I will examine the intersection of art and science and the often blurry distinction between the scientist and the artist.

[Register here for September 26, 2023 event]

October 24, 2023 Ailene MacPherson, Mathematics

Title: Who, What, Where, When, and Why: the power of genomics in public health

Description: Within days of first being identified the full genome sequence of SARS Cov-2 was published online. Here we discuss the extraordinary power and limitations of genomics for understanding disease spread and for designing effective public health interventions.

[Register here for October 24, 2023 event]

November 28, 2023 Dustin King, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Title: Decoding how life senses and responds to carbon dioxide gas.

Description: Dustin King’s Indigenous background is central to his work and relationship with the biochemical research he conducts. He brings Indigenous ways of knowing and a two-eye seeing approach to critical questions about humanity’s impact upon the natural world. 

Join Dr. King on a microscopic journey into intricate cellular systems, which make use of CO2 in incredible ways. The presence of CO2 on Earth has given rise to a diverse evolutionary tree, with plants and animals developing ingenious methods for harnessing and using CO2 in their unique habitats. We travel from the depths of the ocean floor to the air we breathe, to understand the implications of increasing CO2 levels in nature and in daily human life.

[Register here for November 28, 2023 event]

I wouldn’t have thought art/science or, as it sometimes called, sciart was a particularly obscure concept these days but it’s a good reminder that much depends on the community from which you draw your audience.

Metacreation Lab’s greatest hits of Summer 2023

I received a May 31, 2023 ‘newsletter’ (via email) from Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Metacreation Lab for Creative Artificial Intelligence and the first item celebrates some current and past work,

International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expressions | NIME 2023
May 31 – June 2 | Mexico City, Mexico

We’re excited to be a part of NIME 2023, launching in Mexico City this week! 

As part of the NIME Paper Sessions, some of Metacreation’s labs and affiliates will be presenting a study based on case studies of musicians playing with virtual musical agents. Titled eTu{d,b}e, the paper was co-authored by Tommy Davis, Kasey LV Pocius, and Vincent Cusson, developers of the eTube instrument, along with music technology and interface researchers Marcelo Wanderley and Philippe Pasquier. Learn about the project and listen to sessions involving human and non-human musicians.

This research project involved experimenting with Spire Muse, a virtual performance agent co-developed by Metacreation Lab members. The paper introducing the system was awarded the best paper award at the 2021 International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME). 

Learn more about the NIME2023 conference and program at the link below, which will also present a series of online music concerts later this week.

Learn more about NIME 2023

Coming up later this summer and also from the May 31, 2023 newsletter,

Evaluating Human-AI Interaction for MMM-C: a Creative AI System for Music Composition | IJCAI [2023 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence] Preview

For those following the impact of AI on music composition and production, we would like to share a sneak peek of a review of user experiences using an experimental AI-composition tool [Multi-Track Music Machine (MMM)] integrated into the Steinberg Cubase digital audio workstation. Conducted in partnership with Steinberg, this study will be presented at the 2023 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI2023), as part of the Arts and Creativity track of the conference. This year’s IJCAI conference taking place in Macao from August 19th to Aug 25th, 2023.

The conference is being held in Macao (or Macau), which is officially (according to its Wikipedia entry) the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (MSAR). It has a longstanding reputation as an international gambling and party mecca comparable to Las Vegas.

Support Our Science and the mass student walkout of May 1, 2023

It’s hard to tell how many students and staff participated in yesterday’s (May 1, 2023) Canada-wide walkout. The University of British Columbia (UBC) counted 300 in their walkout (from a May 1, 2023 article by Amir Ali for The Daily Hive). The total number is not available but there is a Nationwide Walkout page on the Support Our Science website with a list of over 30 participating institutions.

I didn’t pay much attention to the concerns from the academic community about the lack of support for Canadian research in my April 24, 2023 posting “The 2023 Canadian federal budget: science & technology of the military and cybersecurity and some closing comments (2 of 2)”; see the”Always a little disappointment” subhead featuring excerpts from a Universities Canada response and Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences briefing on the 2023 federal budget.

Thankfully, others have filled in the gap. Brian Owens wrote an April 28, 2023 article for Nature about the then proposed walkout and the reasons for it, Note: Links have been removed,

“Pay for grad students hasn’t increased in 20 years, while there has been 50% inflation over the same period,” says Sarah Laframboise, a biochemistry PhD student at the University of Ottawa and executive director of Support Our Science, a student-led campaign group that is organizing the walkout.

Scholarships from the federal government provide an annual stipend of Can$17,500 (US$12,800) for master’s degree students, either $23,000 or $35,000 for PhD students, and $45,000 for postdoctoral fellowships. That leaves many researchers in a precarious financial position, says Laframboise. A survey that she and her colleagues conducted of more than 1,000 Canadian graduate students found that almost half of respondents either frequently struggled to make ends meet or were forced to make sacrifices to afford necessities, and 30% had considered leaving their studies because of financial hardship1.

Support our Science has three main demands. First, it wants master’s scholarships to increase in value to $25,900 (a rise of 48%), postdoctoral fellowships to increase to $59,200, and the two levels of PhD scholarship to be equalized at $35,000. Second, it wants a 50% increase in the number of scholarships funded each year, and a doubling in the number of fellowships. Finally, it wants the size of federal research grants to increase by 50%, to allow professors to increase pay for students and postdocs who do not have a federal scholarship. The organization says that these demands are in line with recommendations from the government’s own advisory panel on the research-support system, which published its report in March [2023].

You can find the March 2023 Report of the Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System mentioned in Owens’s article here.

That report and more are mentioned in a March 24, 2023 Support Out Science press release issued in response to the 2023 Canadian federal budget,

Support Our Science (SOS) has worked tirelessly over the last year to advocate for increased funding to graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. We are disappointed that the Government of Canada’s Budget 2023 does not include any new investments for the next generation of research and innovation leaders driving Canada’s economy. We recognize the fiscal challenges our nation is currently facing; however, Budget 2023 will have drastic impacts on current graduate and postdoctoral scholars in Canada and will negatively impact the retention and attraction of top talent for years to come.

Of the G7 nations, Canada already makes among the lowest investments in research, development and training. This is documented in the report by the Advisory Panel on the Federal Research Support System, the 2017 Fundamental Science Review, and the 2021 Degrees of Success Report by the Canadian Council of Academies. This budget puts Canada even further behind. Our ability to advance green technologies, cybersecurity, quantum technologies, disease prevention, and many other areas of critical and urgent need are being hampered by the Government of Canada’s lack of investment in the next generation of researchers.

A May 1, 2023 article (with files from Mike Crawley, Joel Ballard and Maurice Katz) on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) news website details some of the hardships faced by graduate and postgraduate students, Note: Links have been removed,

A Canada graduate scholarship from one of the three federal research funding agencies is $17,500 per year for a master’s student or $21,000 per year for a doctoral student.

Luis Ramirez, a master’s student at Simon Fraser University (SFU), says the amount he is afforded is barely enough to cover his rent, tuition and food. 

“We’re getting less than $30,000 [per year], even the PhD students.

“We have to pay rent, we have to pay tuition, and we have to pay groceries and clothing and so on. So it’s almost impossible to continue with this. We are on the poverty line right now.” 

UBC graduate student Katrina Bergmann says the low scholarship amounts are “unacceptable.”

“We are the major workforce for Canadian science and innovation,” she said. 

Nancy Forde, a professor at SFU, said federal funding is not meant to make anyone rich but is instead there to ensure researchers can focus on their work without worrying about finances. 

But, she says no one can survive on the amount provided in these scholarship funds, adding that many are using food banks [emphasis mine] to get by. 

“I have students in my own research group who are leaving research because they can’t afford to live,” she said. “They came into the program with savings, and they’ve depleted their savings.”

“Only the privileged can survive.”

In December [2022], Champagne [François-Philippe Champagne, the minister of science, innovation and industry] said he was aware of the call for more funding for graduate researchers and that it would be part of discussions with the finance minister.

“It’s clear that if we want to own the podium, we need to do more to support the researchers, the students and the scientists,” Champagne said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the federal Science Ministry said it had provided $114 million over five years in the 2019 budget to granting agencies to create 500 master’s scholarships every year, in addition to an $813.6 million increase to student grants in the most recent budget.

The spokesperson did not specifically respond to a question about whether the scholarship amounts would increase. [emphases mins]

It seems students are not the only ones using food banks, from an April 23, 2023 article “UBC staff will no longer be able to access AMS Food Bank due to rising costs” by Nikitha Martins for The Daily Hive,

Kathleen Simpson is a Senior Manager at AMS [Alma Mater Society] and tells Daily Hive the student union’s decision to end support for UBC staff was not one it took lightly.

However, the rising cost of food has driven more people to need support from the AMS food bank and simultaneously made it more expensive to purchase food to operate the food bank.

Last year, the AMS food bank served 7,496 people. By the end of this policy year, the student union expects to help 15,861 people.

“In the last month alone, we saw a 1,000% spike over the previous month, quite unusual, but we are really facing some very high business numbers, and when you combine that with some of the costs of food that have been rising for some of our staple items,” Simpson explained.

AMS has put in a funding request to UBC for $350,000.

“Next year, our cost of groceries alone is projected to cost around $449,000,” Simpson said. “So we’re hoping to hear back… whether or not that full funding will be allocated.”

AMS is asking for nearly double what it received last year from UBC.

I wish them good luck in getting long overdue increases.For the curious, Support Our Science can be found here.