Silvio Carta

The Machine’s Eye - How machines see our world, 2019

Video, 2.54mins, sound, looped

Courtesy of the artist

Silvio Carta (b.1979) is an architect, fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Head of Art and Design at the University of Hertfordshire, where he is also Director of the Professional Doctorates in Fine Arts (DFA) and Design (DDES). His research focuses on computational design and public space. Carta is head of the editorial board of Seoul-based C3 magazine and editor of A_MPS Architecture Media Politics and Society (UCL Press) and the author of Big Data, Code and the Discrete City (Routledge 2019) and Machine Learning and the City Reader (Wiley 2022).

In The Machine’s Eye – How machines see our world, Carta explores how a hypothetical Artificial Intelligence (AI) system can scan public spaces for interconnected devices and generate profiles of people with data retrieved from smart phones, microphones, CCTV, and sensors embedded in the internet of things. Based on the physical nature of the environment, and the demographic profiles of its occupants—according to gender, accents, and conversations—AI mines information from social media databases to calculate each individual’s social worth which Carta defines as their contribution to society in financial and social terms.

Carta focuses on the granularity of data and proposes that big data’s access to geolocated and legacy data now provides accurate information concerning the behaviours, and current and anticipated locations of individuals. Despite Carta’s dystopian vision of human value in The Machine’s Eye – how machines see our world he sees promise in the application of algorithms for the improvement of the urban environment, as long as the fully connected internet of things is demystified.