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June 1 —Co-Creation Studio at MIT ODL is excited to once again participate in RightsCon, the world’s leading summit on human rights in the digital age. RightsCon 2023 will take place online  (and in-person in Costa Rica) from June 5th to June 8th and free registration for online participation is open until June 2nd.

In a virtual panel entitled Labeling Generative AI as a Creative Act, the Studio will share its joint research into the creative tensions and possibilities of Synthetic Media and deepfakes. It’s part of the studio’s ongoing 5-year collaboration with WITNESS, a global human rights organization. 

“Together with WITNESS, we have been advocating for more nuanced co-creative conversations that emerge when art, tech and ethics are equally valued,” said Katerina Cizek, Studio lead on the collaboration. She added, “The most profound artistic acts often occur in these spaces, these edges. That too is happening within the bureaucratic digital debris of what’s called labeling compliance. Labeling AI media is often considered a necessary but boring burden, but in the hands of artists, it can become a powerful, transcendental opportunity to illuminate ethical dilemmas, both new and old.” 

Last month, together with WITNESS media technologist shirin anlen, Cizek published a related op-ed in WIRED, called The Thorny Act of Deepfake Labeling.

An artistic exploration of disclosure, transparency, and accessibility can lead to creative, innovative developments of contemporary visual language and vocabulary that have the power to connect with the audience and offer them new ways of seeing and understanding the media content,” said anlen.

This ongoing research is based on a prescient report the Studio and Witness published 18 months ago, entitled Just Joking! Deepfakes, Satire and the Politics of Synthetic Media. With the explosive developments of public discourse around Artificial Intelligence in the last six months, the report is more relevant now than ever.

“Our Just Joking! collaboration with the Co-Creation studio has explored what it means to make deepfake satire”  said co-producer of the report, Sam Gregory, now the Executive Director of WITNESS, “And what this tells us about broader questions of consent, disclosure and the grey areas of our emerging synthetic ecosystem.” He continued, “Just Joking! also highlighted the importance of getting beyond the idea of labeling as a punitive and binary act – ‘misinformation’, ‘AI-generated/not’ – and into the rich terrain of learning from artists and creators how we navigate a positive vision of labeling and revealing media-making in a new mixed-up synthetic and real media reality’

At RightsCon, Cizek and anlen will be joined by the Report’s coauthor Henry Adjer, and artist Fran Panetta in an interactive and lively discussion.


Labeling Generative AI as a Creative Act

Wednesday, June 7th | 11:30 AM-12:30 PM CDT 

shirin anlen, media technologist at WITNESS
Katerina Cizek, Artistic Director of CoCreation Studio at MIT ODL
Fran Panetta, Director of UAL Storytelling Institute
Henry Ajder, deepfakes researcher

Labeling of synthetic media, AI-generative content, and deepfakes is often seen as an unwelcome burden. Labeling is associated with mis/disinformation, considered a warning, and understood through the lens of compliance. But labeling, disclosure, and provenance can all be powerful and thoughtful creative acts that expand on the poetic and visual layers of contemporary media content. This hands-on workshop asks participants to explore the tremendous expressive potential that labeling can offer to synthetic media. Many complex questions arise when translating audio-visual information into text. As we reframe labeling into an artistic opportunity, we aim to move towards transparent, accessible, and more nuanced practices.

Kat Cizek

Author Kat Cizek

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