Workshop 2: Glen Worthey, ‘Does Information Want to Be Free?’
Glen Worthey (HathiTrust Research Centre, University of Illinois)presented his paper ‘Does Information Want to Be Free?’ at the second AEOLIAN workshop ‘Reimagining Industry / Academic / Cultural Heritage Partnerships in AI’ on Monday 25th October 2021.
Abstract: Whether or not we actually believe it, and regardless of both its intended and its accepted interpretations, Stewart Brand’s famous 1984 quip that “information wants to be free” suggests an economic approach to one of the crucial questions of AI research: in our new information economy, who should provision and control the raw materials, the means of production, the product, and the profits of artificial intelligence? We who gather here as the AEOLIAN Network — a network focused specifically on the applications of AI in the not-for-profit academic and cultural heritage sectors — inevitably find ourselves both dependent upon and implicated in the activities, data, code, practices, and economies of the commercial sector. Shoshanna Zuboff has characterized this sector, both helpfully and provocatively, as “surveillance capitalism,” but there are many other useful (and less negatively-charged) characterizations of these inevitable, dangerous, desirable, comfortable cultural-commercial interactions as well. How should we act, and how should we be as actors, in this complex web of relationships? And what are some of the consequences of our so acting and so being?