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  • WORKSHOP: Smart Villages and the Dangers of Governance by Algorithms: An interactive exercise in algorithmic governance

Smart Villages and the Dangers of Governance by Algorithms: An interactive exercise in algorithmic governance

Saturday, October 5
10:00am - 4:00pm

Please note: Separate Registration Required (see bottom of this page to register.)

Presented by: Denisa Kera, Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Salamanca
Date & Time: Saturday, October 5, 10:00am-4:00pm

Location: Meeting Room C, Lawrence Public Library (707 Vermont Street)

Algorithms are everywhere and they do nearly everything. Just about every facet of our lives are governed by what are seemingly infinitely long strains of numbers and symbols. But, we know so little about them – what they do and where they exist. Their ubiquity is only growing as the aim of governments and policy-makers focus on influencing human behavior to conform to a particular concept of rationality. In light of this focus, issues regarding choice, autonomy, and well-being ought to drive our discussions.

If you want to want to explore these topics and learn best by doing or simply enjoy participating in role-playing games, then we have just the event for you. To help the public understand the implications of algorithmic governance and how ubiquitous algorithms are, the Lawrence Public Library and the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities are hosting Denisa Kera for an interactive exercise exploring the broad issues raised by algorithmic governance.

In this workshop, participants will take on the familiar role of citizen of a small village. The only difference is that this small village and everyday transactions are completely governed by block-chain mechanisms in the creation of contracts. In other words, we will run through prototypical scenarios of creating “smart” contracts via programs designed to produce the most efficient contracts. These mock contracts will serve as entries into issues of bias, justice, and control in code and law and as tools of critical reflection and future scenarios on algorithmic governance, politics, and design.

This workshop is friendly to complete beginners. We will learn about blockchain technologies and services, but no prior experience is necessary. Please bring your laptop; no need to install anything.

If you want to prepare, here is a preview of potential policy issues.

If you want a quick overview of blockchain/decentralized ledger tech discussions, here is basic vocabulary.

For additional background information, you can read more about the workshop and the fictional smart village of "Lithopia."