Dulce Canha

By Dulce Canha

A capitalism system that revolves around perpetual economic expansion on a planet with finite resources closely explains the health, climatic, and ecological crises we are experiencing.

Every day we feel the effects of this crisis age. COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most visible manifestation of this. Beyond the public health emergency, there is also the economic repercussions, which, when placed on top of an already very uneven and unfair economic system, has had different consequences on different classes and social groups. The COVID crisis is not the cause, but a symptom of this crisis, having revealed ecological, social, and political problems.

The roots, structure, and implications of the capitalist system must be addressed. The two big systemic challenges we are confronted with, economic and environmental, are two sides of the same coin. One cannot be solved without solving the other. It is extremely difficult for communities to cope successfully with environmental challenges if they are also dealing with issues of economic insecurity. Economic stability is needed to be able to fight for environmental policies.

The fossil fuel sector is a major contributor to the climate crisis and the pollution that is currently affecting so many communities. Sentencing for the long term, decarbonizing the economy can result in a net gain in jobs and environment. Coal and other fossil fuel extraction jobs should be replaced by  renewable energy ones like solar and wind industries.

In this sense, it is important to accept the challenge of the near-term socioecological transition. The health, climatic, and ecological crisis human society is experiencing require radical behavioral, economic and political changes.

And what can we do as humanity and on what terms? A kind of premises have to be changed in ourselves in order to then change the economic system and ecological behavior: it requires respect for one another as humans, and care for the ecosystem we all depend on and where everybody (not only humans!) matters for its continuity. It seems simple, and yet…

How are AI and machine learning changing society and art?

The nature of creative processes is changing dramatically as a result of new technology emergency, particularly artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Computers are becoming increasingly important in creative processes including music, architecture, visual arts, and science. Artists and exhibition venues have begun to investigate the possibility of AI as a creative instrument, a non-human collaborator, mediating between forms of technology processing and objects of cultural imagination.

Do people value a painting, or another art piece produced by a computer as much as they value the human produced ones? Society is still catching up about this. However, computational creativity has already emerged as a new discipline. Creativity can be studied, simulated, and used for the benefit of society, but is important to help the general public to be critical about the value of these computer creations by describing the methods employed by the software to create them.

AI’s rapid penetration into many facets of life is affecting organizational decision-making and increasing efficiency. However, these advancements present significant policy, regulatory, and ethical concerns. Because technological and science advancements affect not only material and energy flows, but also information and knowledge, consciousness and emotion, it is evident that broad, interdisciplinary platforms for dialogue and research projects are required.

One of the big challenges we are confronted with is the climate crisis. Concerning this, machine learning and AI are being used to: predict weather patterns, contributing to the study of climate changes; identify the optimal times to use renewable energy sources to maximize the system’s sustainability while avoiding power disruptions; or help find the most efficient use of environmental resources for farming. The use of GPUs to run machine learning algorithms, on the other hand, has been linked to higher CO2 emissions (training AI models demands a lot of energy). This way, AI has the potential to both benefit and harm the environment, being critical, in the near future, to study these aspects and move forward.

Porous Beings (in the age of machines), Nayab Ikram