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Small c vs. big C: How Computational Infrastructures capture technical and social imaginary for public life

In recent years, the communications, sociality and operations of public institutions have become increasingly dependent on Computational Infrastructures provided by Big Tech. From decentralized contact tracing apps for public health to free online school classrooms for education: Computational Infrastructures have rapidly expanded their remit. This conversation will center on how institutions and the lives they are tasked with supporting, are impacted by Computational Infrastructures.

Owned and managed by a handful of companies, Computational Infrastructures consist of a vast global network of data centers, network infrastructures and mobile devices, as well as platforms that are becoming essential for the provision of economically viable and scalable digital services. Their inherent economic models and mandate to grow, require Big Tech companies to expand into all aspects of life, be it health management, border informatics, educational platforms, precision farming, or logistics. We want to grasp this moment of infrastructural shift and re-imagine it as a move towards collective empowerment: how can we engender shared responsibility, leverage creative resistance, and develop new ways of interfacing across scales, between communities and institutions?

Drawing on feminist, decolonial and intersectional analysis, The Institute for Technology in The Public Interest (TITiPI) has been studying how infrastructural shifts are changing institutional conditions that impact feminist organising and the lives of marginalised communities including people of color, women, trans and non-binary people. TITiPI is a trans-practice gathering of activists, artists, engineers and theorists initiated by Miriyam Aouragh, Seda Gürses, Helen Pritchard and Femke Snelting. Together we convene communities to hold computational infrastructures to account and to create spaces for articulating what technologies in the “public interest” might be when “public interest” is always in-the-making. We develop tools from feminisms, queer theory, computation, intersectionality, anti-coloniality, disability studies, historical materialism and artistic practice to generate currently inexistant vocabularies, imaginaries and methodologies. TITiPI functions as an infrastructure to intensify these practices and to establish new ways in which policy making around technology is organized in the public interest.

To find out more, please visit: http://titipi.org/