’37 women and six of them were Henry the VIII’s wives’ substrand: a profile of Libby Heaney

Britbot at CogX Photo Credit Luba Elliot_1

With a chatbot trained on the Life in the UK citizenship test recently released, Somerset House Studios resident Libby Heaney wants to answer the question: how can we create an ethical framework for AI and quantum computing before it’s too late?

The advent of email, instant messaging, and the Internet was as momentous as the invention of telegraphy and the telephone before it. It simultaneously magicked others’ bodies into superfluity, and brought their opinions, thoughts, and routines closer than ever. The growth in the 1990s of forums, personal websites or blogs, and peer-to-peer networking services meant everyday exchanges between regular people happened every day: weekend plans, frustrations, and photographs of meals were all broadcast like a pixelated cablegram. Utopian visions from every political position coalesced around the Internet. It would ring in a new economy, a new era of information exchange. Famously, according to John Perry Barlow’s A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, it would banish the concepts of ownership, status, identity, borders, and consumption. It was an anonymous and immaterial space, boundless and brimming over with possibility.

Integrated Quantum Photonics Chip - Credit Silverstone

Heaney is going back through the book and deconstructing it too. A few months ago she wrote down the names of everyone mentioned, and now she’s analysing the gender (there are 37 women and six of them were Henry the VIII’s wives) and educational background of those included, as well as the locations mentioned. Her suspicion is that all the places mentioned are going to create a strange, archaic, and deeply conservative model of the British landscape: a place replete with countryside houses and grand old buildings and completely devoid of post-war architecture or social housing.

Read the full piece here.

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