User:Ioanatomici/THESIS OUTLINE

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Thesis Outline

Conceptual Outline

As a dominant concept for the subject of my thesis, I'm starting from the premise that certain technologies, namely machine learning in relation to image processing frameworks, are not only able to capture images as phenomenological data, but they are also able to observe and enrich the context of those images with algorithmic predictions and visualisations. Therefore I'm interested in the ability of these technologies to observe, construct and visualise future scenarios based on their probability and/or impending occurrence.

In order to artistically and theoretically engage with this premise, I find it important to identify nuances to diverse notions of prediction vs. uncertainty, as they manifest in different fields. These diverse nuances have lead me so far to consider prediction and uncertainty in terms of literary mechanisms particular to science-fiction writing, namely the act of worldbuilding through dystopian themes and tropes. Therefore I would like to think of the prediction vs. uncertainty dichotomy through a dystopian thematic: the future risk of large-scale disaster as inherent to present-day phenomenology.

Why do you want to write this text?

I'm very keen on opportunities to conduct complementary forms of research to the reading material that has been haunting the development of my project. I'm excited for the possibility of seeking specialised/specific forms of input directly from relevant sources and foster a series of casual conversations. The speculative frameworks that can arise from having these types of discussions is my main motivation for choosing this method of documenting my research.

Methodology Outline

I would like to structure my thesis in relation to the interviews I will conduct and the fictional narratives I've chosen to develop. Therefore I aim to propose a dynamic back-and-forth between the outputs of my thesis and final project, since they will be constantly referring to each other and will be using the same source material in a recurring manner.

Since I plan to conduct the interviews and end up with recordings in the form of audio-visual material, I plan to transcribe the each discussion with the various inteviewees and use the transcriptions as a way to write my thesis. Ideally the transcriptions will offer me the opportunity to edit and annotate the discussions in a sequential way, so as to emphasise their inter-relational characteristics and also to flesh out the theoretical and fictional narratives that I will use to develop my final project.

Chapter Outline


  • setting up the premise of visualising the future
  • disaster phenomenology - potential disaster as a vehicle to navigate notions of prediction and uncertainty inherent to different fields
  • fiction as method, dystopia as vehicle - elaborating on the use of fiction to explore theoretical frameworks in relation to phenomenological ones

Fictional story no.1

The first narrative is a story about human vs computational agency when confronted with an irreversible and potentially catastrophic occurrence. It is based on the question: Does the machine know that to err is human? In this scenario I would like to explore the extent to which human error is hardcoded into computational processes. A simple, small scale example would be trying to erase a document/file on a computer and the result of the system interfacing the question: Are you sure?
  • transcription of interview conversations on this topic
  • annotations to interview transcriptions

Fictional story no.2

The second narrative is based on the mechanisms of self-fulfilling prophecies. A disaster who’s result is that of its own prediction. A reversal of cause and effect: the future spilling into the present. It is based on an thought experiment known as Roko's Basilisk, wherein a lengthy and controversial forum thread emerged on the website Roko, the user who started the thread, posited a future scenario in which a sufficiently developed and vengeful AI entity would be able to retroactively exact retribution on all those who haven't contributed to its emergence. What are the socio-political dynamics of posing a self-fulfilling prophecy? What kind of phenomena can such an act unleash? More info on Roko's Basilisk here:
  • transcription of interview conversations on this topic
  • annotations to interview transcriptions

Fictional story no.3

The third narrative proposes a speculative dimension to a normally empirical method: the act of sending a probe into the future. The probe therefore takes on the role of the pioneer, the pilgrim, the original settler. And at the same time inhabits the role of the soothsayer, the prophet, the eschatologist. How might a probe survey a disastrous occurrence before it occurs and even if it will not occur?
  • transcription of interview conversations on this topic
  • annotations to interview transcriptions