June 2021: NYCML steps into the year 2025
June 2021: NYCML steps into the year 2025 Plus machines, media, and job opps View this email in your browser
You know, after 15 months…little things like walking to the corner store without a mask on seems pretty fantastic. So, seeing my colleagues out in the world — at Tribeca Film Festival — is worth a moment’s celebration. See our interview with Alton Glass in the newsletter below.
Our 5th annual “Machines + Media 2021: Facing the Future” gathering was a digital wonderland. Our partners at Bloomberg and the Media Lab team brought together four conversations — and now they’re all on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.
And our Synthetic Media & Storytelling Challenge Demo Day was illuminating and fun. So glad to have you all here with us, hope you are resting up for an exciting fall season.
NYC Media Lab
firstname.lastname@example.org NEW & NOTEWORTHY NYCML Stepped Into the Year 2025 at This Year’s Tribeca Film Festival
On June 17, 2021, NYCML’s Erica Matsumoto stepped into the year 2025. Thanks to an Oculus headset and a hybrid Tribeca Film Festival, Matsumoto was able to immerse herself in GRX Immersive Lab’s POV: Points of View — the VR experience that aims to educate communities on the systemic threat of implicit bias in emerging tech used by law enforcement.
We had the privilege of interviewing POV Director & Writer Alton Glass immediately following the VR experience — a conversation that will surely stick with us for years to come:
NYCML: It was interesting hearing the two officers in dialogue. How did you arrive at the commentary on the risks and rewards of surveillance, biometrics, and emerging tech?
Alton Glass: I wrote it three years ago. At the time I was inspired by the killing of Tamir Rice. There’s so much money put into the militarization of policing. What if there was a drone that could have shown up to the scene before the cops did? How would the outcome be different? How would this technology learn?
I wanted to create an experience that goes back to the title “Points of View” — opening up the conversation to our various points of view about the technology. By creating that dialogue between those two characters, I’m not trying to push anyone to dystopia or utopia…but let’s have a conversation about what could happen in the middle, the protopia. Let’s open the dialogue as opposed to having these preconceived notions about each other, even if it’s uncomfortable.
NYCML: Do you receive any pushback or resistance from the civic tech orgs you work with?
Alton Glass: This is the premiere, so not yet! Hopefully people can look at the bigger picture: human beings. If you deem my life as valuable as yours, then we should be having the same conversation about the technology — about what it can do for us as opposed to against us.
NYCML: What’s next for you?
Alton Glass: I want to turn this into a video game and a graphic novel, and all of it will be curriculum-driven so you have an opportunity to educate yourself on how to get into emerging tech — this growing, immersive ecosystem.
POV: Points of View was an official selection for the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival and winner of a Black Public Media 2019 PitchBLACK Award. Read more about POV, and watch the 2D trailer. Watch Machines + Media 2021 on NYCML’s YouTube Channel
On June 9th, in partnership with Bloomberg, NYC Media Lab presented our 5th annual gathering of technologists, media professionals, and academic thought leaders for “Machines + Media 2021: Facing the Future.”
With Big Tech under fire and innovation moving rapidly, we convened expert panelists to discuss how we can both embrace and manage the impact of technology on our increasingly essential media ecosystem.
How can we create greater equity within the NYC tech sector? What are some new and innovative ways we can use AI to increase public trust in journalism? How can we improve algorithms as they apply to healthcare, policing, and education? And what does the future of social media regulation look like? We addressed these questions and more in the following livestreamed panel discussions:
- The Future of Tech in NYC
- AI & Local News
- Surveillance Tech and Transparent & Fair AI Systems
- Living With Disinformation
ICYMI, or want to take notes from your favorite technologist, all four panels (plus a few short clips) are available to watch via NYC Media Lab’s YouTube channel.
Teams Presented at the NYCML Synthetic Media & Storytelling Challenge Demo Day…and the Results Were Extraordinary!
What’s possible now that wasn’t before? That’s the question five teams set out to answer throughout the NYC Media Lab Synthetic Media & Storytelling Challenge. And five months later, these graduate student teams delivered spectacularly.
On June 10th, the 40+ person Zoom audience watched in awe as the following teams showcased their intrepid applications of machine learning, GANs, and other emerging tech to various early-stage creative concepts:
• Wallflower is an AR face filter for video calls. The floral mask responds to the wearer and grows when the person isn’t speaking. Face filters have the potential for being much more than an instant retouch — they can create an opportunity to tell a personalized story in real-time.
• Team Cloud Theory aimed to answer the question, “Can machines play like we do?” First, the AI describes the shapes it sees in the clouds in the sky (much like we did as children). Then the narrator — aka the machine — spins a tale based on those shapes.
• IMUU is comprised of a group of artists who created a webXR experience that explores the notion of the self and the fragmented existence of bodies within the context of surveillance capitalism. From a sitting Buddha who watches commercials with no preference, to a dancing emoji manikin, the game showcases how others may perceive our digital selves within a surreal and fluid data world.
• Inspired by fear of the dreaded “white paper,” Bigotis Fabra set out to create a new medium so that anyone can turn their thoughts into art (without possessing any real artistic talent). Using AI, the tool turns abstract mental patterns into physical representations — aka art!
• Currently, machine learning tools are becoming more sophisticated, available, and popular for artists and brands to create media. Problem is, ML-generated content is often imprecise and unruly. And the process? Opaque. Team GANGang aims to help brands understand how to utilize ML and AI so they’re able to maintain creative control throughout the entire media-making process.
Bravo, teams! We’ve got a feeling we’ll be seeing some of these prototypes IRL in the very near, AI-driven future. NYC Media Lab Is Hiring a Community & Project Lead — Apply Now!
Knight Foundation recently selected NYC Media Lab as a recipient of funding as part of its new, $3 million “AI for Local News” initiative which is designed to help local news organizations harness the power of artificial intelligence. To best support the “AI for Local News” initiative, NYC Media Lab is hiring a Community & Project Lead. We’re looking for amazing candidates who are excited to:
1) Develop a digital platform and newsletter on AI in journalism that offers resources, information, and new knowledge in the field.
2) Launch and manage an “AI & Journalism” innovation challenge to explore emerging applications of AI for local news.
Are you the perfect fit for the role? Know someone who is? You can learn more about the Community & Project Lead position and apply here!
JOB OPP: Front-End React Developer @ DOTDOT Creative Studio
DOTDOT is an award-winning creative studio focused on generating impact through social and immersive experiences. They were also a participating team in our 2021 NYCML x ASCAP Immersive Studio Challenge — and they’re hiring! DOTDOT is currently seeking a Front-End React Developer with 3+ years industry experience.
What you’ll do:
- Work on multiple, quick turnaround projects and frequently iterate on modules and core features with each project.
- Collaborate with other developers, game designers, 3D artists, and producers to ideate and build out features.
Read more about the open position and browse a few other job opps via DOTDOT’s website. VIRTUAL EVENTS JUNE 29: LGBTQIA+ Pride Month: Being Out in the Tech Space
Want to break into tech? Looking for inspiration in your current field? On June 29th, hear from a virtual panel of LGBTQIA+ professionals on their career journeys, and what it means to be out in the tech space. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate Pride and come away with some solid career advice. Register for free.
JUNE 30: Earth Tech Pitch Night
On June 30th, meet the cleantech entrepreneurs helping to build the Next Economy through sustainable climate and water solutions. Watch startups from the Earth Tech accelerator pitch their solutions, and vote live to determine which three ventures will walk away with cash prizes of $10,000.
Bonus: The uplifting event will end with virtual networking. Learn more about the Earth Tech accelerator and register for free here.
A IS FOR AUTOMATION: A BOOK TO PREPARE YOUR CHILDREN FOR THE FUTURE OF WORK
In the spirit of the recent summer solstice, we’re ending our June newsletter on a light note. We had fun reading A is for Automation, the children’s book by Dan Kopf and Bárbara Abbês that playfully introduces kids to the forces of automation, shifting job prospects, and the gig economy.
Read it in its entirety, or gather the whole fam and listen to the audio version read aloud by Anne Quito. We promise your kids will come away with a few fun facts and morsels of life wisdom. Our two cents? We do think software will indeed make coding too easy. Happy listening!
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