In this video, the founder of some video analysis firm that has design algorithms that parse video and turn it into data, inadvertently becomes an excellent example of the stupidity and paranoia that is embedded in anything that man designs. trying to impress us by connecting a bland pitch for his company to a contemporary issue, he tells us how his algorithms pars YouTube videos being posted by people in Syria to look for data. his example – last month we say a Kalashnikov machine gun in videos 5 times, and this month we saw it 25 times, this jump is significant. you can already see how idiotic this analysis is on so many levels – that what may be nothing other than say a lazy videographer and lover of guns filming the same gun 5 times more often, is transformed to ‘imply’ an increase in armament, or a ratcheting up of the violence, or anything of significance.

A question infrequently asked is … who designs the algorithms that are used to parse data and transform it into knowledge. the NSA can listen and see everything, but it is computer algorithms that look for patterns and alert the operators and agents. but who designs these pattern recognition systems? it turns out that this is the true crux of the ridiculousness of the surveillance state – the paranoia, prejudice, and lets face it, large dose of human stupidity that underpins the designs of the algorithms. we give too much credence to these systems of data surveillance – perhaps we do it for the same reasons we did it for the financial industry – they appear complex, and are explained to us by men in fancy suits to remain that way – obscure, obtuse and incomprehensible. but all this imagined complexity actually hides their frailty and lack of intelligence there is a very, very strong parallel between automated, algorithm based financial trading, and automated, algorithm based intelligence gathering. both are equally likely to give us the completely wrong results.

Paranoia informs the outcomes, and facts are transformed into information by passing them through the filters of fear, prejudice, careerism (more guns, more armaments from russia is a hysteria that will see in DoD and the White House!!!!), and useless but expensive algorithms meant to replace human intelligence and common sense are being used to create more fear, more paranoia and more stupidity. the NSA surveillance has been revealed, but it is time we demand a look into their algorithms of surveillance which i am sure are riddled with racist, bigoted assumptions and structures of logic that encourage the transformation of the ordinary into the terroristic extraordinary.


I wonder if this project doesn’t carry within it a terrible contradiction – the idealization of the woman as goddess, or in other instances as ‘mother’, ‘pure’, carrier of honor, representative of all that is sacred is part of the problem here ie the idealization negates the individual woman, imposes values, responsibilities, roles and perfections on her which when a woman does not reflect leaves the woman vulnerable to abuse (fallen woman, cheap woman, westernized woman etc) and disdain. that is, this completely weird insistence on woman as goddess does not respect a woman for who she is, but for the idealized values and roles that are constantly imposed on her. Partha Chatterjee equates the idealization of the indian/south asian woman as a core part if the nationalist project. when she is no longer human, she is no longer real. men who then see a normal woman can equate her as reduced, less, impure – this project perpetuates the very prejudice that fuels some of this violence!!! woman as mother, as nation, pure, chaste, good, caring embodying the best of our values…the goddess to worship on a pedestal. anything less and u are a whore?

In a moment of the most unusual coherency, I manage to string together some decent answers to dvafoto’s Matt Lutton’s demanding questions. An earlier questionnaire from the Asia Society sat languishing on my desktop for weeks as I just could not string together responses. Each attempt came across as ridiculously pretentious and inane. And yet, Matt Lutton managed to get these responses out of me within a matter of an hour. Perhaps trust is a crucial element, and of course respect. Matt is a wonderful photographer and someone I know personally and respect deeply. I suppose introverts are afraid of coming out and the human factor then matters.