Dossier: Natural Intelligence

Articles & Talks About A Post-Fossil Internet

Reassemble

Introduction

The immense possibilities of today’s internet services, data centers, artificial intelligence, and rendered computer graphics have been made possible by a large supply of cheap energy sources: fossil fuels. The promises of yet another generation of AIs and metaverses are unthinkable without the endless extraction and flow of fossil energy. Many are already talking about ‘data warming’ as one of the strongly growing drivers of global warming. In what ways can we build towards low/non-carbon digital infrastructures, and an ecological internet?Do we need a new energy literacy for this? This dossier provides inputs, reflections and starting points to these questions.

Natural Intelligence, the third edition of FIBER’s Reassemble Lab , explored alternative internet infrastructures based on earthly dynamics, low-carbon solutions, and ecological ethics. What role can design, creative coding, and artistic research play to envision and prototype a fundamentally different way of adapting our technological demands to natural cycles? What does it mean to learn from, adapt to, and work with natural intelligence, and how can we imagine, articulate, practice, and connect initiatives towards fossil-free futures? The lab was a meeting and working place for more than 40 art, design, and scientific practitioners.

Research Dossier: Areas, Articles, and Lectures

In order to start addressing these topics, the lab explored four interdependent and sometimes overlapping research areas: Energy Literacy , Everyday Technologies , Collective Infrastructures, and Fossil-Free Imaginaries . This dossier – organized by these research areas – is a first collection of written articles by lab participants and mentors, some interviews, recorded lectures, and sources from makers and thinkers who are committed to exploring or discussing an internet centered around ecological ethics. The videos of lectures and presentations were held during the lab.

  • How (Not) to Talk about the Environment | Abdo Hassan
    01/12/2022 Energy Literacy
    Catfished by Web 3.0 | Ola Bonati
    01/12/2022 Energy Literacy
    Embedded Metaphors of the Digital: In Conversation with Mick Jongeling
    02/11/2022 Everyday Technologies
    Listening as Non-Extractive Technology | Rachel J. Wilson
    01/12/2022 Collective Infrastructures
    Collective Infrastructures: How to Understand Collectivity | Ål Nik [Alexandra Nikolova]
    01/12/2022 Collective Infrastructures
    Natural Intelligences of a Biophilic Internet | Cristina Napoleone
    01/12/2022 Fossil-Free Imaginaries & Everyday Technologies
    Digital Perspectives on a Solar Society | Jarl Schulp
    08/11/2022 Fossil-Free Imaginaries

Articles Summary

Where to start with such an immense topic? We start with the basics: what is our relationship with energy and can we establish a new energy literacy? Data practitioner, researcher, and writer Abdelrahman (Abdo) Hassan , in his article ‘How (Not) to Talk about the Environment’ , questions the ways in which an energy literacy can develop when we (and who is we?) talk about our relationship between technology and energy. He does this through four different perspectives. He thereby links his article to our research area ‘energy literacy’. Researcher and storyteller Ola Bonati dives into the promises and narratives linked to Web 3.0 in her article ‘Catfished by Web 3.0’ .Asking: What about the literal power that Web 3. will need to run?

What can we do today, to set the path to the future? With Everyday Technologies, we look at applications of design adaptations and theoretical concepts to change digital environments and behaviour. We added an already existing interview with our lab co-curator Mick Jongeling , which was part of an earlier lab. In the interview ‘Embedded Metaphors of the Digital’ , he shed light on the intangible impact of our interaction with the Internet, and how design and worldbuilding could produce alternative realities.

In her article ‘Listening as Non-Extractive Technology’ , researcher and musician Rachel J. Wilson uses listening as a non-extractive technology that provides space to question existing digital infrastructures and the ways we interact with (in) this space. Mixed media artist Ål Nik (Alexandra Nikolova) looks at what collective ways of designing and building digital infrastructures are necessary to bring about a paradigm shift. She left this to the Collective Infrastructures research area.

Artist-curator and researcher Cristina Napoleone reflects on natural intelligences and what a biophilic internet could be. It’s a speculative investigation – partly with a recorded video – takes us through the foundation of digital spaces, specifically around the TERRAIN website. Curator and FIBER director Jarl Schulp shares his brief observation ‘Scifi Perspectives on a Solar Society’ on the imagination of fictional societies living with extreme sun patterns.

Sources

  • A Pluriverse of Local Worlds: A Review of Computing Within Limits Related Terminology and Practices by Marloes de Valk
    25/10/2022 Energy Literacy
    ‘This is a solar-powered website, which means it sometimes goes offline’: a design inquiry into degrowth and ICT by Roel Roscam Abbing
    01/12/2022 Energy Literacy
    Permacomputing wiki
    01/12/2022 Energy Literacy
    White Skin, Black Fuel by Andreas Malm & The Zetkin Collective
    01/12/2022 Energy Literacy
    Solar Protocol by Tega Brain, Alex Nathanson and Benedetta Piantella
    01/12/2022 Everyday Technologies
    Low Tech Magazine
    01/12/2022 Everyday Technologies
    BROCKEN plug-in by Maike Gebker, Anna Eckl, Eva Eiling
    01/12/2022 Everyday Technologies
    The Hmm: Dossier 11: A Lighter Internet
    01/12/2022 Everyday Technologies
  • The book of servus
    01/12/2022 Everyday Technologies
    #5 What Remains – Game
    01/12/2022 Everyday Technologies
    Infrastructures of Collectivity by Manetta Berends and Cristina Cochior (Varia)
    25/10/2022 Collective Infrastructures
    Branch Magazine, edited by Michelle Thorne, Babitha George and Shannon Dosemagen
    01/12/2022 Fossil-Free Imaginaries
    Climaginaries
    01/12/2022 Fossil-Free Imaginaries
    The Environmentalist Stock Exchange by Cream on Chrome
    01/12/2022 Fossil-Free Imaginaries
    Scenario #16 Interspecies Internet by STRP
    01/12/2022 Fossil-Free Imaginaries

Research Areas

Energy Literacy

How to articulate?

This research area looks at how to include a new energy awareness in design practice. We discussed how to make an intersectional mapping of the various concepts and communities, and their strategies and views on how network infrastructures’ impact could be lowered. How to work from, and collaborate with, natural cycles, ecological ethics and de-colonial computing?

Articles: How (Not) to Talk About the Environment by Abdo Hassan & Catfished by Web 3.0 by Ola Bonati

 

Collective Infrastructures

How to connect?

Radical changes need a collective spirit. How to foster collective infrastructures and organize communities towards an internet based on ecological ethics, how to find new modes of collaboration and build bridges between existing practices, and how to connect design and critical thinking with policy making on multiple scales?

Articles: Listening as Non-Extractive Technology by Rachel J. Wilson & Collective Infrastructures: How to Understand Collectivity by Ål Nik [Alexandra Nikolova]

Everyday Technologies

How to practice?

Everyday Technologies looks at how to start today with accessible personal interventions and design solutions to the ongoing environmental emergency. In this area, we shared and worked with artistic/design practices and interventions, current tools and available technologies, and explored tangible outcomes. For example: How to build a low-carbon website or start a zero inbox.

Article: Embedded Metaphors of the Digital – In Conversation with Mick Jongeling

 

Fossil-Free Imaginaries

How to imagine?

Which ways of futuring will help us to steer to a desirable, fossil-free future? What place does the Internet have in this? This track is inspired by speculative design and worldbuilding to imagine an alternative society based on natural cycles and renewable energy. What would a non-extractive economy, regenerative Internet look like?

Articles: Natural Intelligences of a Biophilic Internet by Cristina Napoleone & Digital Perspectives on a Solar Society by Jarl Schulp

About the Lab

From March 10 to 13, FIBER organized a four day meeting place for artists, designers, creative coders, technologists, researchers, energy experts and policy makers who are committed to, or interested in, working towards a fossil-free and fair internet. Participants were invited to join workshops, prototyping sessions, talks and discussions, where sessions included a workshop on decolonial design literacy, using everyday technologies to develop low-carbon websites, conceptual design sessions and hands-on technical workshops, such as working with a new solar server by Solar Protocol and prototyping new UX concepts. The lab started with a public program that was open for all to join both physically in Amsterdam and online.

The aim of the Natural Intelligence Lab was to fuse existing practices, skills and knowledge, and to form new alliances. Questions that drove the Lab were: How can we envision future energy, information and communication systems that are non-extractive in nature, embracing ecological realities and in relationship with natural phenomena and cycles? How can we work within design, media art and creative coding practices to foster a new literacy around energy? How can we rethink the internet based on renewable energy and regenerative principles? And how could we start implementing these values ​​in everyday practices?

 

VISIT THE LAB PROJECT

Dossier Credits

File Lead: Allegra Greher
Curation: Katia Truijen, Jarl Schulp
Program mentors & cocurators: Abdelrahman (Abdo) Hassan, Mick Jongeling
Editorial & Voice Over: Rhian Morris
Videography: Tanja Busking
Design: Mary Ponomareva

Authors: Abdelrahman (Abdo) Hassan, Ola Bonati, Mick Jongeling, Rachel J. Wilson, Ål Nik (Alexandra Nikolova), Cristina Napoleone, Jarl Schulp

Natural Intelligence Lab has been made possible with support from the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Creative Industry Fund NL and Pictoright. FIBER is part of CreaTures – Creative Practices For Transformational Futures