LEARNED FRIENDS: PIASECKI VS. WADE
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Niamh Schmidtke 0:11
Hello, you're listening to Future Artefacts FM radio show hosted by Niamh Schmidtke. And Nina Davies.
Nina Davies 0:19
Earlier this year, several radio frequencies were discovered airing a collection of broadcasts. At first they sounded like regular news stories and interviews. They felt familiar, but also not quite belonging to our present. Slowly, the listeners came to believe that what they were listening to, did indeed belong to their world, just not their time. They were looking into the future through the mundane edges of radio recordings and public service announcements. While this material is still being meticulously studied by researchers in various universities and museums, your hosts have managed to gain access to this collection to air a selection of these broadcasts for you, our listeners.
Niamh Schmidtke 1:00
For full disclosure, we will not be sharing this collection with you, as this introduction is based on a fictional event. In this monthly broadcast, Future Artefacts FM, we will present speculative fiction pieces by artists and writers, followed by conversation with hosts Niamh Schmidtke and Nina Davies. The programme will focus on fictional works intended for broadcast, such as radio plays or fictional interviews, to carve out a better understanding of the now by exploring various interpretations of the future.
Niamh Schmidtke 1:39
Hello, hello, hello.
Nina Davies 1:41
Hello. Welcome back to Future Artefacts FM. As per usual, I'm your presenter, Nina,
Speaker 1 1:48
and Niamh. But actually, you know, you're not presented today, you are the artist today.
Nina Davies 1:53
That is true. I am the artist today, and I'm gonna, guess we'll just get straight into it. Today we've got another guest presenter, which is my very close friend and colleague, Jorge Poveda Yanez who I have had the pleasure of working with over the past, I almost want to say three years now.
Jorge Poveda Yanez 2:16
Yeah, probably even more
Nina Davies 2:18
Yeah, it might be it might be more, which is crazy, because most of our friendship, or like working relationship has all been over zoom. And yet again, today, we're recording this on Zoom again. For the first for the first time, Future Artefacts is on Zoom. But, uh, yeah, again, Jorge and I are speaking together on Zoom, because we've got everyone in different countries. Niamh's in Berlin, Jorge's in California, which is not a country, but may may as well be its own country. And I am in London.
Niamh Schmidtke 2:55
But today's episode is going to be another kind of flipping, we're bringing Nina back as the artist for this episode. She's made a new work we're gonna be talking about this is like a work in progress. In a way, it's like part of development of some new, new commission's or new shows that are coming up, hopefully later in the summer, end of the year, so on kind of, not to reveal too much.
Nina Davies 3:19
Yeah, I think it's gonna lead into a couple of a couple of projects, actually, in the same way that the last episode that I did for Future Artefacts, ended up doing the same thing where kind of the sound work turned into a video and then turned into a performance, sort of, I think this is gonna go down as well. So this is the first moment where the ideas are like entering the universe.
Niamh Schmidtke 3:43
As all of your scripts. It's a really thoughtful and insightful work, I think. And it kind of ties together a lot of topics that, I feel like we had a conversation about this piece about two or three weeks ago. And I remember you, you talking to me about all of the ideas that you had, and thinking, wow, that's all one work, or it's not, it wasn't quite one work. But like even the fact that half that conversation kind of went into one piece is sort of incredible. So I think it's going to be really rich conversation, and especially today with Jorge as well. Because you both have very extensive backgrounds in, in dance and in choreography and kind of no surprise this work deals a bit with choreography,
Nina Davies 4:26
And law as well.
Niamh Schmidtke 4:29
Yeah, and law. How are you? How are you? Jorge, I realised we haven't said hello to you yet.
Nina Davies 4:34
Yeah, we've been told we've been told recently that we don't ask people how they are, which is a big problem. So how are you?
Jorge Poveda Yanez 4:41
I'm good in the moment that you told me okay, you will have to wake up 9am on a Sunday. I was like, okay to get to know another word by Nina. Okay, it's enough motivation. I'll do it.
Nina Davies 4:54
That's so nice. I'm gonna actually kinda should have done this just at the beginning, but I'm just going to give like an official introduction to you Jorge, because we haven't done that yet. Jorge is a dancer, theatre maker, researcher and scholar working with new technologies, human rights, and the arts. He is currently the editor of Ghent University's documented journal, which focuses on theatre and performance studies. His training as a dancer/ anthropologist at UCI in France and performer UCE in Ecuador, social scientists UDLA. So all of these places, led him to enrol in a UCRS Ph. D programme and critical dance studies where he currently works as a teaching assistant and Jorge is actually working under, I don't know whether this is like too fan-girly to say, your supervisor at University of California Riverside is a author, Anthea Kraut, who wrote wrote I would call like a seminal text called Choreographing Copyright, which is about the race and gender politics about copyrighting choreography. But she says something about how it's race and gender politics but always cut, cross cut by class, isn't it? And now Jorge is studying under her. So that's like, really exciting. You're just you've just started your first year there?
Jorge Poveda Yanez 6:14
Yes, my first year and you kind of like were, you were seeing this whole process with me as I applied and as I went through it, so I think you have the best perspective about the whole process in it.
Nina Davies 6:29
Because this is only the introduction. I'm just really excited to have you here talking on the show. I feel really lucky to have two people, two people that know my work the best, all talking together. This is like a dream come true for me. So yeah, the piece is 17 minutes,
Niamh Schmidtke 6:47
What's it called Nina?
Speaker 2 6:49
It's called Learned Friends; Piasecki vs Wade, which is a really boring title. But I like it. And because there's a story behind it, which I'll tell you, after we've listened to the work. The work, I think can be listened to out loud, and headphones, whatever you want. As usual with my work, it's, there's no spoilers here, it's a fictional podcast conversation. So it's not a musical thing, I suggest it's actually best to put on while you're doing something else. So you can listen to it in the background, like you would just a normal podcast.
Niamh Schmidtke 7:25
I would suggest maybe not doing loads and loads of things. Some of the material in it is a little bit dense, like in a good way. I mean, that's part of what we're going to unpack here today.
Nina Davies 7:35
That's fair to say.
Niamh Schmidtke 7:36
It's kind of the there's a lot of entanglement in it before we kind of settled into listening to it for anyone who's like a new listener or maybe doesn't know or it's been quite a few episodes since Nina has been on the show. I'm gonna read out a short bio. I mean, Nina is typically co presenter, that's kind of Nina and I co founded this this radio show, but I'll read out a little bit about, kind of what you've been up to in the last since since Bionic Step since episode six. We're now on episode 14. So it's been a bit of a journey.
Nina Davies 8:10
Niamh Schmidtke 8:12
Nina Davies is a Canadian British artist who considers the present moment through observing dance in popular culture, how it's disseminated, circulated, made and consumed. She recently graduated from Goldsmiths MFA fine art, where she was awarded the Almacantar Studio Award and the Goldsmiths Junior fellowship position. Her work has recently been exhibited and shown at Transmediale, Akademy der Kunst Berlin, Seventeen in London, Matts Gallery the Mattflicks film programme, Circa X Dazed class of 2022 Piccadilly Lights in London, Limes in Berlin, K-Pop Square in Seoul, Fed Square, Melbourne; Overmorrow House, Battle; and Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, Hawick. In 2021 she co-founded Future Artefacts FM with artist Niamh Schmidtke and was awarded an Arts Council Project Grant to produce their 2022 programme. Also with thanks to the Elephant Trust, who helped us commission all of the artists to do their amazing works, big thanks to them. And this, this episode is our pro bono?
Nina Davies 9:22
Yes, it's an unfunded episode which is hence why you're hearing from me a third time. Third time
Nina Davies 9:33
I think we should probably get into the work so we can save as much time for chatting on the other end. So enjoy and we'll see you on the other side.
Learned Friends; Piasecki vs Wade work
Riley: Welcome back everyone to Learned Friends, this is Riley here
Devon: And Devon
Riley: Today we’re going to be looking at a pending case that has been re-opened after 24 years
Devon: Yes….. this is a super interesting one. Now, this is fairly normal isn’t it to have a case pending this long right?
Riley: Oh yeah, I actually looked into this, and the longest a case was pending for was 180 years
Devon: What? [laughs]
Riley: No, I’m serious. It first happened in 1804 and was settled in… get this… 1984.
Riley: Uh huh
Devon: I’m speechless… So this is nothing
Riley: What… the?
Devon: Piasecki vs Ward
Riley: Right yeah. I think it’s actually uncommon for cases to be reopened. Like for for no reason.
Devon: Sure, sure
Riley: So I did my research, as always…
Devon: As always….[tuts in a sarcastic way]
Riley: Wait? what? Do you still think I don’t do my research?
Devon: I didn’t say that…
Riley: This is ridiculous, so I just wanna say for the record, I always do…. the most….
Riley: ….extensive….. [laughs]…. research…. Apart from this one time….
Devon: Sorry I need to tell this story
Riley: So, like there was this one time, where we were messaging the night before we were gonna record an episode. and I was telling Devon about the points I wanted to hit when we spoke, and…
Devon: Basically Riley didn’t understand the assignment [laughs]
Riley: Yeah…. I mean it’s pretty embarrassing, but we were doing an episode about stationary security, which I’m sure some of you will remember. It was a computer game where you would detect security anomalies. and it turned out the people playing the game were…. or sorry… let me rephrase that….
who thought they were playing the game… we actually doing free labour for security services.
Devon: [laughs] And Riley…. thought that….. [laughs]
Riley: [sighs] … I had found a case from like ages ago about a stationery security incident, where the stationery from an insurance company
Devon: Sorry we need to just clarify here that you’re talking about stationery as in…
Riley: Pens, and pencils, yeah… they went missing on the day a new client had
opened an account with this insurance company , so the policy was written in pencil. Which resulted in the insurance company not being liable for anything on this account.
Devon: [laughs] Such a niche case. And like so old…. we’re talking before computers, before laser printing, and when things were recorded only by hand using wet ink.
Riley: You know what, I was so proud of the research I had made. And Devon did not allow.
Devon: [laughs] because it was boring dude. The law is already boring enough. [laughs]
Riley: Fair enough, I’m still waiting for the chance for this to re-emerge. But …I don’t think it’s gonna happen.
Devon: But let’s get into it….
Riley: ….Piasecki vs. Ward
Devon: I think maybe before we do, we should probably explain why it’s been re- opened right?
Devon: Now this is actually how we initially came across the case, and some of you might have heard about this more recent case against the app e-chemist for malpractice where people were being diagnosed with depression based on the way they moved.
Riley: And am I right in saying that these people weren’t actually depressed?
Devon: Well, it’s hard to say, depression is common, so I think in most cases it was probably correct. But as you know the original feature of e-chemist was to provide prescriptions for low-risk medications as a way to reduce appointments with over subscribed medical practices.
Riley: That’s right…
Devon: And they eventually started providing diagnoses using various AI technologies.
Devon: And some of these technologies were bought by the app in their early stages of development…. Including Nervous Movement which is a generative model, and is meant to detect whether you might be at risk of depression based on your body movements.
Riley: So it like – it basically says “you have bad posture, you might be depressed”
Devon: I mean I think it’s more complex than that
Devon: But basically yeah. But there’s no definitive sad way of moving, right? Like it takes you’re movement data to produce a prediction on whether you will be more sad later.
Devon: And it can never tell you’re sad based on how you move because… mood eﬀects bodily movement diﬀerently across cultures… so it’s entirely cultural.
Riley: And is this what the current case is about? Misdiagnosing someone based on cultural diﬀerences?
Devon: Not exactly no, but this is the reason why it doesn’t really work right? And I guess to sort of wrap up my bit here, is, in this on-going trial against e- chemist the prosecution have stated that they do not want the predictions to be shown to the jury as evidence.
Riley: Which is where this gets super interesting…
Devon: Yeah, so they claim that if something is a prediction, then it isn’t necessarily real at the moment it’s made, and if a prediction is faulty, then could this mislead a jury? So I guess if the jury are not shown the prediction are they left with the facts that someone was prescribed medication that eventually gave them an anxiety disorder. Plain and simple.
Riley: So you’re saying that the fact that the prediction was wrong, means it shouldn’t be included as evidence? But isn’t the faulty prediction actually incriminating? Like it’s a clear example of it giving the wrong advice.
Devon: Yeah you’re right, and I think this is how piasecki vs wade gets brought into the mix.
Riley: Totally and I can see that. So they’re – the prosecution – are like trying to set some sort of symbolic precedent then…
Devon: Yeah they’re basically saying predictions aren’t real, and that we need to not consider predictions within systems where finding truth is concerned like a court. But yeah maybe we should move onto Piasecki vs wade now.
Riley: Cool, yeah. Well, this is the point where Piasecki gets reopened. So Piasecki the car company, who I’m sure you’re all familiar with, was taken to court by the family of Robbie Ward. And Robbie Ward was fatally hit by a Piasecki Matica which was, I think one of their early self-driving-cars…. am I right?
Devon: My parents actually had one of those
Devon: Yeah there was some kind of government incentive to try and get more self driving cars on the road, so the government was giving tax credits to people buying new cars which made it the same price as other cars.
Riley: Right, and I guess that made the Matica relatively cheap then? Devon: I mean, no one our age would have been able to aﬀord it…
Riley: Unless you used your law degree to actually become a lawyer, instead of host a law themed podcast.
Devon: [laughs] I mean….. but cary on
Riley: Yeah so the case made against Piasecki by Robbie Wards family turned into this really strange case where it seemed like the car malfunctioned… as many early models did. But in this specific case there was some mysterious evidence
Devon: Dun dun dun! [sang]
Riley: You know those rear screen mirrors that are kind of a screen and a mirror?
Riley: Well it showed Robbie running into the middle of an industrial estate, causing the car, which was backing out of the estate to swerved around him.
Devon: But that’s not what happened was it?
Riley: Nope… he hit him
Riley: Basically where the car swerved to was actually where robbie was. He never actually ran into the middle of the lot.
Devon: But isn’t the footage caught on the camera live?
Riley: You think that it would be but, no. It’s all predictive, because the whole system is based on where it will predict people to be, of course there are live sensors, and then also a live network between the cars
Devon: Hence the government incentive
Riley: Yeah. but no, there’s no live footage. But it gets even weirder. Devon: Oh
Riley: The predictive footage found in the car, shows Robbie moving in a weird way. Like he’s in a video game.
Devon: What? Like GTA style
Riley: Yeah exactly. He runs into the middle of the car park, and appears as if he kinda hits an invisible wall and kind of runs on the spot for a split second and stands – well I guess kinda bobs staring vacantly out into the distance.
Devon: But what do you mean by predictive footage? Sorry I’ve not heard this term before
Riley: Well this is the part I don’t fully understand, but basically the car used a similar generative predictive model like e-chemist uses which can detect how people will move up to 10 seconds into the future.
Devon: Oh I didn’t realise that how that’s how Nervous Movement worked… Riley: yeah…like… I think it’s slightly diﬀerent – in that Nervous Movement - the company – make a prediction of how the body will move if the person was sad, and then if it’s a close match, it then it alerts the person who was moving.
Devon: I see so the prediction is the predicted movement - not the alert it sends out
Riley: Precisely. And with the Piasecki Matica the predictive data was always made visible to the passenger so that human intervention could happen when it was necessary – and, as I’m sure you remember – the movements it predicted weren’t like organic movements – like intricate, hands – individual movements. It was these sort of video- game-like movements
Devon: Yeah of course I remember this – I mean I feel like we need to talk about forerunning (or precursing)
Riley: Mmm yeah I’m gonna come to that in just a moment… but just let me finish this
Riley: So the pedestrian movement prediction never needed to be that intricate as it mainly needed to forecast general direction and speed of pedestrians.
And then also – the most important thing is that these generative models are pre- trained right?…
Riley: So, most of their training-data does comes from driving simulation games including games like Grand Theft Auto. So the predictive footage it produced always showed the pedestrians moving in this programmed way
Devon: See, I always thought this was just a fun feature of the model Riley: No it’s mainly due to the manufacturers deciding it was a waste of
processing power. But what I’m trying to get at here, is that what these models are trained on isn’t real life yeah?
Riley: – it’s a video game…and I think there’s something that this case opens up which is really important - which is if these generative networks are based on fictional representations of reality, then do they in someway turn reality back into fiction?
Devon: Uhhh, okay. I’m not entirely with you there [laughs]
Riley: What like you don’t agree or?….
Devon: No, I think I’m not following…
Riley: I guess I just mean that in a sense these fictional, unreal worlds are in someway materialising through the autonomous machines that now control large parts of our daily lives
Riley: And…. as I promised…. This is why I think precursing is such an interesting practice and was so widely adopted. It’s basically, like, people recognising this shift and the need to exist in this sort of fictional way
Devon: … I just wanna quickly explain what precursing is because it was trending around 25 years ago where it wasn’t uncommon to see a few people on the street every once in a while waving at a bus stop or running on the spot facing a fence.
Riley: It was fun. Did you ever take part in this?
Devon: Yeah of course, didn’t you?
Riley: Yeah I remember doing it all the way to the bus stop to meet my friend in the morning
Devon: wow… such commitment
Riley: I know …I think that friend was probably my only friend [laughs]
Devon: [laughs] yeah .. I mean you didn’t need to tell me that, I’d figured that out years ago. But yeah, we were just kids when this came out but it first started out as a prank, do you remember?
Devon: Where when a group of people started “clumping” – I think that’s what they called it – where they would quite literally clump together and start precursing, and then self driving cars wouldn’t be able to tell which way people were gonna move individually and the car would eventually stop. So people would do this as a sorta joke
Devon: And eventually people realised that self driving cars…. or I think cars on auto pilot as well – responded better to pedestrians who were precursing
Riley: When you say better do you mean like responding faster?
Devon: Yeah it made is easier of the cars to detect pedestrians, and by becoming these sort of characters they would match the training data which these machine run oﬀ of.
Riley: But we don’t really see this around much any more do we?
Devon: No…. but…. I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but it’s become really popular in rural, agricultural and mining areas. Where, basically there’s no urban pedestrian side- walks.
Riley: No way!
Devon: Yeah I kid you not, it’s like even become a health and safety requirement for working around industry vehicles like tractors and trucks which use old generative models similar to Piasecki Matica.
Riley: Right, that’s insane.
Riley: Well I think we need to start wrapping up, but I obviously wanna bring this all back to the re-opening of Piasecki vs Wade. Which has yet to be resolved
Devon: Yeah and I don’t think it will be for a while to be honest
Riley: You know what I was thinking the same thing actually, or at least it’s looking like it’s headed that way. Because it’s opened up so many new questions concerning… even how the… how the legal system functions
Devon: In what way?
Riley: Well, I guess the law has always be concerned with creating, or finding truth in past events, and now, it seems that what we’re dealing with here is a… something completely diﬀerent. Like it’s deciding truth within past situations that arise from prediction.
Devon: And a prediction is never wholly truthful…
Riley: Yeah exactly, and also a predictive technology can’t be ever really be liable for something, which brings me to my last point.
Riley: I was speaking with a PhD student who regularly listens to our show, shout out to Evan if you’re listening to this. And they told me about this crazy proposal within the justice community to change the courtroom proceedings and protocols entirely
Riley: Yeah, I was actually gonna say this to you later but was thinking this might need to be it’s own episode. Because, what these people are suggesting is to get rid of the system of prosecution vs. defence.
Devon: Okay…. [laughs] this is crazy
Riley: And their reasoning for this is that the whole court system is a kind of make believe set up anyways. Two people in wigs and robes tell a story to 12 random people who then decide the truest story between the two and then another person in a robe and a wig decides a punishment based on stories told through anec-data.
Devon: Sorry what do you mean by anec-ata?
Riley: Sorry, anecdotal data, like how data can kinda tell a story. So in this case a predictive technology usually tells a judge how likely it is that a defendant will do this crime again based on data about his background.
Devon: Right, so what are these people suggesting?
Riley: Well, I don’t quite know yet, I need to do more research, but they are basically suggesting that the story telling process of a court proceedings needs to change.
Devon: Well I think that’s probably a good place to stope, and I think maybe we should do a part 2 to this. Maybe for the next episode, what do you think?
Riley: Yeah maybe we can do a poll on our socials and see what all you guys have to say.
Devon: Well thanks for joining us again.
Riley: Just incase you forgot, you’re listening to Devon and me, Riley from Learned Friends. Please don’t discuss any of the evidence that you’ve heard here today, and bye for now.
Niamh Schmidtke 25:22
Well, welcome back, everyone. hope you really enjoyed Learned Friends: Piasecki VS. Wade. We are back with Nina and our lovely co presenter for today, Jorge. To kind of kick off the conversation. Because there's a few there's quite a lot of kind of new terms in the work, Nina maybe to situate us a bit in the in the piece as well. Could you describe a little where the titles come from so 'learned friends' and kind of what does 'precursing' or 'forerunning'? What are they? Perhaps
Nina Davies 25:57
I have just, on Friday finished a three week trial of doing jury service. One of the things that kept happening between the defence and the prosecution lawyers was they kept referring to each other as their learned friend. And I think I just thought it was really cute. And when I and so I guess also to give a bit of context, as I've been writing this script in the evenings after finishing my jury service for the past three weeks. And I didn't plan this on purpose, I kind of I'd already had the idea for writing the script. And thinking about these ideas much longer before I started doing the jury service. But it's definitely in some ways it's I guess it picking up I think picking up terms that I might not have come across if I was reading case studies, I guess like the actual like the pleasantries the etiquette of a courtroom I've never experienced before, because I've never, I've never been in audience. And luckily, I've never been on trial for anything, or never had to be
Jorge Poveda Yanez 27:06
But the whole legal component is something very present in your work, right. Like you've been very familiar with it, intertwining the body with either copyright or either with like, Slomo, when you were also developing these notions about slow motion, it always comes from this legal perspective as well.
Nina Davies 27:25
Yeah, definitely. I think this, this is something that I'm sort of kind of, I think, coming out of slightly, but I've always thought of the legal system or the justice system to be this, this sort of absolute framework, if that makes sense. And I think there's something there, there's like the law is the law and the law creates a code of conduct, but, by which we all live in. And in that absolute way, I think there's something really interesting about bringing the body into, especially not just the body but forensically. But the way that the body moves, I think it's, something that is so not absolute. And I'm kind of talking in really broad terms here.
Jorge Poveda Yanez 28:09
And Isn't it lovely to see that contradiction that you just mentioned of like, the dead body of the deceased body, versus bringing into the legal discussion, the the moving body, the dancing body even right, and I feel like that the dichotomy or that dualism, it's somehow connected to another dualism that you're presenting us with, which is truth making, either looking into the past, or truth making in the future. Because in this last piece is like, you made it sound so radical, and like so obnoxious to think of like these cars, trying to predict what is going to happen in the future, which is literally trying to find the truth in what is going to happened in a couple of seconds into the future. And as ridiculous and radical as that might sound. If you think about it for a second, we are exactly doing the same, right now just in a different temporality. Like if you go to the courthouse, you're not finding the truth that is being enacted right there. You are digging into the past, to try to find that sense of truth. So in this work, we are just like having this twist, where we're still finding the truth for the truth, looking for the truth, but now just displacing to the future. Right.
Nina Davies 29:30
Yeah, yeah. Well, I think also, this idea of how, maybe going back to what I was saying about the law being absolute, the whole process that I've been on sat in this jury, has changed my views of what the law is, I was like this, there is, the law is trying to be absolute, to make sense of all these narratives that exist within it because actually. The case that I was on was, I am legally allowed to talk about it now, but I'm not going to go into it. It just makes it too complicated. But it was a sort of, he said, she said, kind of case. And so, so we were just, you know, picking, picking a narrative, which was the one that seemed to be the one that seemed to be more truthful. But then, of course, we are 12 people that are picked randomly out of not out of a hat actually compute computer generated. But, you know,
Niamh Schmidtke 30:30
Nina Davies 30:31
and yeah, and so we have to decide the truth based on anecdotal evidence, the law really tries to ground it and the ground in some sort of way. But actually, the whole system is chaotic, basically. And I don't know how much truth is in there, because actually, that's why these things get brought to the courts. Is because you're trying to find truths, where it's not, it's not obvious where it is. And I think
Niamh Schmidtke 30:56
Which kind of it becomes a bit funny than when you are, you're putting it into this fictional setting in a way, because I think that's one of the things is, it seems to come up a bit when we're when we're doing the show and we're looking at different works, especially that that deals with kind of a present like political or socio economic situation, like there's a lot of, there's like a lot of facts that goes into making that fiction feel very real or like feel like truth. But it almost feels, the fiction that you've made, in a way feels closer to the truth that we think we're experiencing rather than, rather than like the truth finding in the court, or in the court system, it really does sound like it was a mini research residency in a way to kind of see like, how, how does this procedure work? How is law enforced in like this top tier level?
Nina Davies 31:52
Also, so at the end, I kind of the two characters, talk about how it's almost like opening up to potential part two, which I wanted to get into in this one, but I thought there was too, it was too much. So I thought I'll just allude to maybe a second one happening, whether I whether I decide to make it or not, basically, I was just talking as if I was the character, it was like, oh, 'maybe we'll do a second one, maybe we won't'. But when one of the characters is describing the system, as it is for them in the time, in the time that they live in, I added in one kind of thing, which is sort of speculative, but also is on the cusp of, of existing right now, or it is in some I know, at least in some states in America, where predictive sentencing is being introduced into the judicial system. So the prediction doesn't provide a sentence, it just helps the judge decide a sentence. So it predicts how likely it is that someone will, will commit this crime again. But the problem with it is, is that it's based on data that actually has nothing to do with the crime. So it could be like, where they were raised, where they grew up, what job they have, it could like, we don't really know what the data that is predicting what the likeliness of this person committing this crime, again, is. And I guess in the situation that I was in on this jury, in this deliberation room, that was actually that, those kinds of stories about where someone comes from or what job they have, or whatever, was not enough for us to produce a verdict, like that was considered anecdotal. And that is potentially what is happening within the judgement and sentencing process.
Jorge Poveda Yanez 33:49
I was just going to say that I connect very much to what you're saying, because it's the work in itself is sitting between the future and the past. And it is kind of like showing how you have a lot more perspectives, a lot more data points from the past than you have for the future. So these predictive algorithms, they are coming up with one single story that it's yet to happen, or to be, you know, proven wrong. But when you're digging into the past, you have all these multiple perspectives and all these different ways of assessing it, which at some point is like, going back to this idea of like, Is it is it so radical to like, think of the truth finding or the truth making in the future? Because it seems like there there is more complexity, or like more contradictions in finding truth in the past where everyone has a different data point, a different perspective or different take on it, right?
Nina Davies 34:51
We've got so use to find the truth on looking back. And I'm saying this not to say that looking future is bulletproof in any way or is better? I think what's interesting is actually the thing that helps us understand the past or have proven documents of what have happened in the past is technology. So when we had, if, you know, once we could record sound or record footage, then you can sometimes have an accurate version of what has happened. Of course, that's not, I don't think that was always necessarily truthful either. Based on you know, I've talked about the slow motion, the ethics of using slow motion footage as evidence, in case
Niamh Schmidtke 35:35
Well I'm even thinking of Muybridge, and kind of the the first moving image of like a horse galloping to show if, like, all four hooves go off the ground at the same point. Or even because I've been listening to a lot around like queer histories recently, a lot of the earliest records of trans women in particular are through court documents, because they're being referred to and by journalists as women, but then in court as men. You know, there's kind of almost that technological, but also like court records, because they're the kind of the most precious or they're the ones that are housed in, like, the greatest archival standard as well, which kind of makes it interesting that it's like this combination of technology and of legislation in this work. I mean...
Jorge Poveda Yanez 36:40
You know, but I feel like that is that is the there realise, or the in that intersection, we find the juiciness because it's that idea of like the power of story, or the power of historicizing that I'm not talking only about like truth finding in the court in the context of the courthouse. But even in Nina's work, whenever you are looking into the future, and even creating these speculative futures, you tend to hone it back through history through this historicizing perspective of like, we have these podcasts, or these hosts or these interviewers, interviewees talking about that future that hasn't happened just yet, but describing it as if it did. So it's like you have first this intent or this, yeah, there is looking forward to create these alternative futurities or these speculative futures. But then you present them in historicize, in a way as like, oh, yeah, I'm gonna tell you a story of this thing that already happened. And I think that has an important effect in like the way that we the audience perceive that, because then it's not like, I'm just thinking from this current time and looking into the future. It's, trust me this already had that kind of is kind of the implicit idea.
Niamh Schmidtke 37:48
I was thinking about this, while reading the work as well, a podcast setting, it's not a setting that sort of implies the most factual or like well-researched work, but it's one that people will generally trust, as well. So you're kind of setting us up in this. It's like, it feels like quite meta to be talking about a podcast on another podcast. But I was kind of thinking about this. I even like the setting, like because you talked about one of the one of the characters in the script has a law degree, and then you're talking about an old legal case that's being reopened. And then there's this kind of riff, they're also reflecting back on a past episode. So it feels very much like you've been plunked into the middle of like this radio series. And so you just want to trust it, but at the same time, it's all fiction,
Jorge Poveda Yanez 38:40
But it's making a strategy, right, like, it's fiction, but it kind of covered it in this truth making historical style.
Nina Davies 38:51
I also want to maybe chat about because obviously, the case, there's, you know, there's a few cases that they talk about in the podcast, you know, kind of in a joking way, at the beginning, and then they talk about the case about the prediction of sad movements and depression with the echemist case. And then talking about the Piasecki vs Wade. Of course, these are all fictional cases, they're not
Niamh Schmidtke 39:20
Which is really, yeah, it's quite funny, because we were talking just briefly before and saying about how the NHS in the UK had these chat bot services for doctors, especially during COVID. So it's like, it's fiction, but it's, it's very, very possible.
Nina Davies 39:37
All of the cases are, as my work usually is, it's all made up of a mixture of real cases with a mixture of others, you know, like, of course, the echemist thing that's, you know, that's just personal frustration and experience with now having to have doctor appointments on my phone. But there was a case that I came across, which I actually included the original dates in the work, I think it was 1831 to 1984. But the case of the Hammersmith ghost, which was unsolved for the ex law student, nodding, I think it's I think it's quite a famous case. But basically, there was a there were rumours going around Hammersmith. So this is like in 1831, or something like that. There were sightings of this ghost. And I can't remember if it's a police officer, or if it's just a man, I can't remember. But basically ends up seeing this ghost and shoot and shooting this man. It turns out that the man was wearing a white coat. And the case was about whether if this man believed it was a ghost, it should it be a different kind of crime, I guess, when they would have figured out whether an action is done with intent or reckless. They were trying to open up a new category of like, it's sort of self defence, but there has, there's a sort of element of belief in there, of believing something else was there. So it kind of got closed, and then was reopened in 1984. When another case happened that was similar, which I can't remember what that what that case was exactly. And they decided no you're just guilty. The belief thing doesn't, doesn't really hold up. But I thought that was kind of interesting, to relate it to technology, where in the sort of predictive models, ghosts can appear. Because none of these things are real yet. So then I was just thinking through that question of, which I do mentioned in the work is like, can a technology believe something? And so what happens when a technology believes something is there? Because I wonder whether these questions which were put onto humans didn't really make sense for humans, but whether these questions with the Hammersmith ghost case, actually maybe make more sense with these predictive models. And of course, we're not looking at actual ghosts here.
Niamh Schmidtke 42:04
I don't know if this is a tangent in this like overcomplicates it but because it's something else you brought up with me before, but it's more so because you bring up the topic of ghosts and that method of measuring intent in a way or like, let's say seeing things that are not visible to the human eye, or like the human experience, but are to like a machine experience. You were talking about that tick tock filter, the anime filter? And how people, do you want to? I think you should, you should talk about this filter.
Nina Davies 42:35
Yeah I think I definitely want to go, thanks for reminding. I do want to go into this. It's kind of a, but yeah. Basically, this is on tik tok, there's an AI filter, which turns, what is meant to do is turn you into like an anime character. And a lot of people have been using the filter to film empty spaces and try and see if the filter will pick up ghosts. And I was interested in it. And this is kind of actually where I started the idea for this work. And of course, it it's come quite far from it. But going back to this case, about this man, John Lewis, who shot the police officer, and the court only looked at the surveillance footage in slow motion. And so I read a case study saying like ethically, they should have been watching it in real time, because it makes it appear that the defendant had more time to make the decision than there was, meaning that there was intent he intentionally shot this person when he probably didn't. But I was really interested in how the oversaturation of slow motion that we see in the film industry, which is I think, is used as a tool, a narrative tool to actually get inside someone's head
Jorge Poveda Yanez 43:50
and to emphasise
Nina Davies 43:52
Yeah, access, access to their feelings of jealousy, rage, or anger or whatever. And I was wondering whether those kind of logics that that are used in cinema had somehow kind of infiltrated the the courtroom, that when you watch something in slow motion, and you kind of slowly see someone blink and turn their eyes to one to one side, you're instantly kind of imagining this action scene and this superheroic person is going to get their gun out and just like and aim, have perfect aim, because there's enough time for it to happen. Actually, there's not and it's just total, it's total chaos and flailing about. So going back to the Tik tok filter, I think there's something interesting about the use of technology that promises you to be able to see something that naked human eye can't see. So in the case of slow motion, you're able to see stuff that your normal vision can't see. And I thought what was interesting with this filter is that it also promised this kind of version of a space that you couldn't normally see. And of course, you know that there's not a ghost there. And, of course, when you're watching the matrix in slow motion, you know that no one is able to dodge bullets, like how Neo can do that in the Matrix. It's superhuman. But there's something about the oversaturation of these technologies within the arts, that can affect how they're, I think, how they're officially used, or when they're officially used, those kinds of narratives, or artistic uses of them can permeate their sort of official uses, if that makes sense.
Jorge Poveda Yanez 45:34
Yeah, and it all comes down to kind of like the data that they are being fed with, right? Because the same way that whatever we are looking at the sky, and looking and she was like relaxing, laying down, looking at the clouds, and all of a sudden you think, oh, there's a bunny, that's a horse, and it's not really there. But you kind of complete that gestalt because you have that image in your mind and you're projecting it there, and AI filters on tick tock can be doing the same, right, because they are they have been fed with this anthropomorphic figure. And so anything, combination of lights and shadows that resembles it will be completed in their eyes, in the eyes of the camera, as a human figure as this ghostly figure. And that is also very present in this piece that we're looking at today, when it's like, people knowing that and therefore trying to resemble or to complete that gestalt so that the camera of the car in this case will identify them. So it's like, I know that you're looking for that kind of movement, I know that the data that you've been fed with resembles these GTA character. So I'm going to shape myself, I'm going to share my movements so that you can read me to make myself legible.
Nina Davies 46:53
Niamh Schmidtke 46:55
On that point, Nina, could you introduce for us a bit what precursing is? Because it's kind of described briefly in the work but it also is currently a trend on tik tok as well. Like, it's not, it comes from reality as like a lot in this work. But I guess I'd be curious if you can say a bit about what it is. And then one of the other questions I have maybe I'll ask this after is like, Do either of you consider this to be a dance or not?
Nina Davies 47:24
Yeah so I guess, to start the office with the first time I started making fictional traditional dances, was with Jorge and it was Bionic Step, which was the previous episode that I did. And Jorge was a really big part. Because that kind of went towards our work. Now I've kind of gone rogue and now I've started making loads of fictional traditional dances and Jorge is like stop, I don't need anymore!
Jorge Poveda Yanez 47:48
I love them, I welcome them all!
Nina Davies 47:55
And yeah, so pre cursing is popular, and actually has been popular on Tik Tok since I started going on Tik Tok, which was in 2019. And it's kind of evolved, I've been watching it evolve. It was starting as people pretending to be non player characters. So the players in the games that or not players sorry, the the characters in the game that aren't for playing, I guess it's meant to be a sort of, I mean, I think there's there's a whole weird theory out there about people thinking that they, that there are actually non player character people out there, but I'm not going to go down that and I haven't really looked looked into that theory that much. It's like a, and I think it's like a maybe like a sort of alt right thing. I don't really know how much it links to the actual NPC dance phenomenon.
Niamh Schmidtke 48:49
It sounds like a very dark corner of the internet.
Nina Davies 48:53
I wouldn't say very dark, but I think it's dark. Yeah, I would say it's probably darkness
Jorge Poveda Yanez 48:58
Conspirations! Conspiratorial theory.
Niamh Schmidtke 49:03
There's a couple that are, that I would say are, from my algorithm seem to be the most famous who do it. But of course, that could just be my algorithm. I was gonna actually put this into the script, but I thought it was getting a bit too like Tron sci fi, like, which I didn't. But now there's a few of these people that do these kinds of GTA style movements that are now being motion captured, captured in motion capture and put back into the game. So it's like this, like
So there's multiple layers of meta in this episode basically is what you're saying!
Nina Davies 49:39
Yeah, and I was gonna go there. But then I was like, actually, I think it's, I think it's too much.
Jorge Poveda Yanez 49:43
I love that.
Nina Davies 49:44
So yeah, so they're doing these like programme style movements. And then they're getting recorded and then they're getting put back in as the real slash programmed movers. But I was I was going to include it in the scripts. I thought it could be, it would be quite interesting. Like people who did it the best once they get allowed back into the game, they start doing more normal gestures. So that the training models can pick them up
Niamh Schmidtke 50:08
It feels like the 'Express Yourself on the Battlefield', the fortnight cases where it's like, if you make the best dance, you can get put back into the game as well, like it has that kind of,
Jorge Poveda Yanez 50:19
But on a closer loop, right, of imitation?
Nina Davies 50:24
Sorry no, you go, I've been talking a lot.
Jorge Poveda Yanez 50:27
Just the last thing that I was thinking of is like how, for me, it's definitely a dance in the sense of like, you only will have to think of like, who are you dancing for? And so this is like a progression that I've been seeing with Nina's work, when I remember you were doing two performers start standing in opposite sides of the room, there's this very clear articulation of language, and movement. And then that takes kind of a progression in expressing yourself on the battlefield, because it's like kind of tracing the lineages of current movements. And where did they, what did you take them from, so kind of like looking past and then with the stepping into machine is like these people trying to insert themselves into the future by doing specific movements. But now with this new piece is like you're taking it even further, because it's like, not only do I want to insert myself in the future, like I need to be, I need to make sure that I am being legible as a human person right now, in this current moment, by means of portraying these robotic movements. So by all means, it's a dancer like now it's not maybe a war dance, it's not aphrodisiac dance to try to get a partner in the club. But it's definitely even more radical is like, please don't run over me, I'm a human!
Nina Davies 51:56
I kind of did a really lazy gesture of trying to make it an agricultural dance in the script, where I kind of thought about when I said that people start doing them in rural areas, where there aren't where there aren't sidewalks or pavements. And it's a way that people are kind of, because they used to say that roads were some of the first technologies to exist because they were they were pathways of information, or trade, you know, when people used to send letters, so it was a technology. And I thought it was interesting kind of these bodies standing in for these old versions of what technology were.
Niamh Schmidtke 52:35
One of the things that I also find interesting and what you're working with a lot is like you're kind of alluding to this, not dystopic world, but you're alluding to worlds where there's public or civil order that's kind of becoming undone in a way, you have signs of it being like an overburdened public service, such as this thing with like the echemist, you're placing us in a timeframe like you say, 25 years in the past kind of being our present, so we very quickly realised like, okay, we're very close to the presence. I guess I'm wondering about, maybe this goes for both of you, because you're both in like this research field right now. What kind of slippery signs of this AI do you think are literally in our present? How'd you think about it in terms of AI or algorithmic intelligence autonomy? Especially in this way of like AI viewing, seeing thinking of the world and this like ethics bias that we were talking about earlier?
Nina Davies 53:33
One person I would have actually quite liked to have got on this show as well. But it's a lot of favours to ask is actually Benedict, who's Jorge's, other research partner? That's not me. Not bitter at all. Does actually work with generative AI tools for creating movement? And she looks at...
Jorge Poveda Yanez 53:57
We're writing a new paper on it
Nina Davies 54:00
Yeah so just reading it before we, you and Benedict are writing one ticket? Yes.
Jorge Poveda Yanez 54:04
Exactly. That AI dancer. Yeah. And
Nina Davies 54:08
Because when you told me about her work, Jorge, it was something that I kind of put a pin in. And I think I'm now starting to think about some of those things, and did actually have a chat with Benedict about it I kind of wanted to understand like, what, I had questions about the ethics of predicting human movement, and Benedict actually told me about how it is being used to predict if people will be depressed. The one thing I do want to say is I don't, the way that I've written about it in my, in my script might be completely different to whatever the projects that Benedict have told me about. The projects that Benedict might have told me about are not as dystopic as mine, so I just don't want to I don't want to say that. I'm like, basically, Benedict's opened up to me and I've just written everything that she's told me as a dystopia.
Niamh Schmidtke 54:56
Nina Davies 54:58
Yeah. Bye Think. And this was what my previous work was about, which Jorge, I don't think you actually might have seen, I have to send it to you. But I think, there's something that I find quite worrying. And I don't think it's all the way into like dystopic. But I think a lot of my work has been interested with the body and language and how we understand the body through language. Therefore, being just how we understand what the body means, or what the moving body means and communicates it's not. It's not absolute, like the law system, which I figured out is not absolute either. And I think some of these AI technologies are starting to, or could start to define what the moving body is and means, which firstly, I'm going to say, which I mentioned in my script is, is always cultural, it's never going to be the same, the way someone moves will always be different across different groups of people. And because we don't understand what the moving body means, what happens when a neural network or some other entity has an idea or definition of what our body moving body means. And there's a worry of not being able to defend ourselves, what what we mean by by our moving body. And so I think that there's something that I think is really interesting about how the body seems to becoming more digital. And I think it's actually about humans trying to understand this digitalized moving body that I think other entities or digital beings are starting to understand. And I think there's kind of some sort of meeting in the middle if that, if that makes sense. And I think that's it don't want to go all the way towards pre crime. But that is the dystopia, which I don't think is necessarily happening. But where's, where crime is predicted? And like an action that you're doing? And you don't really understand how how, what that process was that that produced that prediction. Jorge, is there anything that you want to?
Jorge Poveda Yanez 57:09
I guess the the last thing that I could say is that I'm collected this discussion with the opposition between legibility and illegibility of the body of the dancing body more specifically, because it seems like whenever machines are understanding movement, that the anthropomorphic figure is not a given. And it seems like we are kind of like bringing it back all the time. So I don't know if Benedict told you about the very first movements that her AI model was doing. The AI model was like extending the arm, like four times the size of its own body, to the point that Benedict needed to correct the algorithm, and sorry to correct the AI and say, no, no, no, that is not how humans can move. Right. So it's just to say that, if you're talking in pure, in a pure sense about movement, it exceeds, it's like beyond and also before and across and throughout the human body. And then you have to add that to that discussion. Like how much of the human figure are we bringing back to kind of obliterate the way in which machines understand movement in this more like illegible or these more abstract or broader way, right? And then, of course, your work and these discussions of how much of that we we want to instrumentalize to make ourselves visible or not.
Niamh Schmidtke 58:36
On that note, we should really wrap up but it's been really, really fascinating. Thank you so much, Jorge, for being part of episode 14. Can't believe we're on episode 14. And Nina, for your, for your work for making Learned Friends
Nina Davies 58:54
Niamh Schmidtke 58:54
And we can all take that really cute phrase. Yeah.
Nina Davies 58:58
Thanks for Thanks, Jorge, for joining. Thank you and waking up so early in the morning for this and thank you to everyone who has tuned in and listened to this conversation, which I imagine has gotten every single direction it could have possibly gone. I hope that there was something to, that something makes sense for everyone listening. And next time, we will be doing another episode with one of our team members who you haven't met yet through the actual broadcast, but one of our music makers, so we're looking forward to that next episode as well. Great. Okay. Thank you and see you in two months.
Niamh Schmidtke 59:44
Nina Davies 59:45
Jorge Poveda Yanez 59:45