We might have kept October low key but we went all out for November with three well-attended and engaging evening discussion events at SPACE4!!

SPACE4 Discussions. Wishful Worries + Criti-Hype: Are We Missing the Real Problems with AI?

Local Finsbury Park-er John Ridpath helped organise and facilitate this evening discussion on ‘Wishful Worries + Criti-Hype: Are We Missing the Real Problems With AI?’. John is He’d been exploring the BTS of Artificial Intelligence and creating an online course about Responsible Tech. When we met at SPACE4 one day he suggested we do an event around it. He introduced me to two terms on the topic:

  1. ‘Wishful Worries’ – premature freak-outs about the extraordinary changes a new technology will bring in the future.
  2. ‘Criti-Hype’ – fuelling the hype around these technologies by constantly talking about and criticising these extraordinary changes.
Panel of 4 speakers, talking to audience in SPACE4.

He took these two terms to an extremely interesting panel of speakers:

  • Michaela Chen is a researcher and advocate at Foxglove, a legal non-profit organisation that fights tech giants and governments to make tech fair for everyone. Michaela spoke about cases they’d been fighting against the harms of AI – specifically their work against the Department for Work and Pensions for the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People. She reminded us not only of AI’s harm but also of the actual workers in the global south who do the menial and underpaid labour to make it “intelligent”.
  • Sara Al-sherif is a human/ rights defender and researcher in digital rights for Open Rights Group, a UK-based digital campaigning organisation working to protect our rights to privacy and free speech online. Sara spoke passionately about the layers of bias in AI against underrepresented groups, particularly against migrants and refugees. She showed us how racially biased AI tools are used by the police and national security. So while we might find google maps recommendations hugely convenient, we must remember that it is our privilege that prevents us from seeing AI’s harms.
  • Kestral Gaian teaches at LIS: The London Interdisciplinary School on technocultiralism, futures literacy, and a new module in AI and Ethics. Kestral was still hopeful for the future of responsible AI. They reminded us that it’s not the tool itself but the way we use it that is the problem.

The panel were extremely engaging and lots of fascinating discussions came up. Evidently we don’t need to worry about the future (and fantastical) harms of AI, they’re already here.

SPACE4 Collaborations. Macrodose Podcast Live: Where Next for the UK Economy.

Next up we were thrilled to work with Planet B Productions on our first live podcast event. They’ve been using one of our private office spaces on a Monday so they’ve become part of the SPACE4 family.

We hosted James Meadway’s economic’s podcast Macrodose and it SOLD OUT IN A WEEK! He had an amazing panel of speakers:

  • Labour MP Nadia Whittome
  • Senior Fellow at the Social Market Foundation Shreya Nanda;
  • and Author and Guardian columnist Owen Jones.

They filmed it so you can actually watch the live podcast on YouTube. You can also listen to it in the usual podcast places.

Our final discussion this year was an event that brought together Finsbury park organisations and individuals to talk about the Afro-Caribbean experience of being a business owner in London.

Earlier in the year a Finsbury Park resident who had attended one of our masterclasses told me about the Parry Family who have owned businesses across from Finsbury Park station since the 1960s. In fact they had opened one of the first black hair dressers in the country. She told me I must platform them and their story at an event.

Later someone from the Raymond Williams foundation hooked me up with the George Padmore Institute (GPI) who are just around the corner from us on Stroud Green Road. Like New Beacon Books they were founded by Finsbury park political and cultural activist, John La Rose. These two connections are what brought this event to life.

We screened GPI’s documentary about the Mangrove Nine created by John La Rose and Franco Rosso. The film is an important reminder of institutional racism centered around a Caribbean restaurant in Notting Hill. The interviews that form most of the footage are a powerful display of British Black politics and activism.

The film was followed with myself interviewing Sharon from the Parry family about her experience of owning a business in Finsbury Park for now almost 50 years. She runs Mentos Flowers and Coffee opposite the station. Sharon was kind of enough to speak really personally and intimately about her family’s history, Caribbean culture, racism, Finsbury Park history and much more. We even had a lively discussion about the Caribbean practice of pooling money – Pardna.

It was a beautiful month with lots going on (in fact we also had a belated SPACE4 Launch which I will talk about in a separate blog post!). And now the last event we’ve got lined up is our annual Winter Party on Friday 1 December 7pm onwards which you’re all invited to. Maybe see some of you there!