In The Institute for Other Intelligences, Mashinka Firunts Hakopian brings speculative fiction and media studies to bear on an imagined future where machine intelligences convene annually for curriculum on algorithmic equity. The book presents a transcript from one of these conferences in which a community of “AI agents” gather at a school for oppositional automata to deliver lectures on the human biases and omissions encoded in their training data. The resulting manuscript, published on the occasion of the Institute’s millennial anniversary, revisits sociotechnical systems from its founding in the 21st century. Drawing on feminist, queer, and critical media scholarship, the trainings collected in the book aim to optimize the operations of future generations of intelligent machines toward just outcomes. Hakopian uses these speculative exchanges to invite the reader to consider how critical approaches to nonhuman intelligence might reroute our current path toward destructive technofutures and allow us to conceive of another way forward.
Edited by Ana Iwataki and Anuradha Vikram for X Topics, The Institute for Other Intelligences includes an introduction by Vikram and diagrammatic illustrations by Fernando Diaz, a scientist whose work focuses on the quantitative evaluation and algorithmic design of information access systems.
Mashinka Firunts Hakopian is an Armenian writer, artist, and researcher born in Yerevan and residing in Glendale, CA. She is an Associate Professor in Technology and Social Justice at ArtCenter College of Design, and holds a PhD in the History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania. With Avi Alpert and Danny Snelson, she makes up one-third of the collective, Research Service. Her writing and commentary appear in Performance Research Journal, Los Angeles Review of Books, Meghan Markle’s Archetypes, and elsewhere. Her research focuses on practices that generate alternative imaginaries of the future.
Ana Iwataki is a writer, curator, and organizer from and based in Los Angeles. She is a PhD student in Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture at the University of Southern California. As a community organizer, she is embedded in a history of art and activism in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.
Anuradha Vikram is a writer, curator, and educator. Vikram’s book Decolonizing Culture (Sming Sming Books, 2017) helped initiate a global movement to decolonize arts institutions and monuments. They have written for art periodicals and publications from Paper Monument, Heyday Press, Routledge, and Oxford University Press. They are an Editorial Board member at X-TRA, and faculty at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture.
Becca Lofchie is a designer, artist, and educator based in Los Angeles. This is her second book with X Artists’ Books. You can see more of her work at beccalofchie.com.
Fernando Diaz is a scientist whose work focuses on the quantitative evaluation and algorithmic design of information access systems, including search engines and recommender systems. His recent research concerns understanding the broader societal implications of artificial intelligence and related technology.
“How do we think of ourselves as thinking machines? Posed by a ‘network of artificial killjoys,’ this question—as political as it is philosophical—undergirds Mashinka Firunts Hakopian’s conceptually brilliant and ethically urgent speculative fiction The Institute for Other Intelligences. With poetic precision and incisive wit, Hakopian’s book defamiliarizes our present through a series of playful yet rigorous lessons on algorithmic bias cast as dialogues unfolding at the millennial anniversary proceedings of a 31st-century institute. Deeply researched and guided by a diverse cohort of feminist thinkers including Sara Ahmed, Ruha Benjamin, Stephanie Dinkins, Mimi Onuoha, and Sylvia Wynter, Hakopian’s inquiry expertly unravels the lineages of colonialism, racism, and patriarchy that structure today’s algorithmic injustices. Transcending critique and traversing genres, it also performs a spectrum of possibilities—for teaching, for art, for identity, and for thought—that break from our present trajectory. In a cultural moment marked by AI alarmism and boosterism alike, Hakopian offers us a singular space for collaborative thinking, experimentation, and indeed, hope.”