As part of the extended programme of WORK, BODY, LEISURE, the theme of this year Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, The Institute of Patent Infringement is concerned with the existing legal infrastructure that allows ‘Big Tech’ a strangle-hold on questions surrounding automation, both today and in the future.
As we go through an ‘AI spring’ we’ve seen a gold rush to patent radically new forms of automated environments, driven through advances in deep learning and combined with increases in big data, machine-learning algorithms, computer processing power and cloud technology
Yet, while companies like Microsoft or Apple tinker with endless patent variations on consumer products, it’s Amazon, with their own brands of automated futurism, which seem intent on merging processes of machine learning with principles of spatial organisation.
Since 2010, Amazon Technologies Inc. has filed 5,860 patents that range from the seemingly banal to the resolutely absurd. Illustrated by dry line drawings these patents provide a glimpse and representation of the automated future Amazon aim to create.
The implications of this are broad. Amazon look set to define future typologies, bypassing the input of traditional professions. To take an example, management modules indicated in Amazon’s patents, can now map space more effectively than a surveyor, produce floor layouts to be more efficient than an architect and oversee retail facilities more productively than a retail manager.
An obsession with efficiency has further led to the quantifiable worker, seen through countless patents for technology that monitors and evaluate workers. But the scope of the quantified body goes far beyond this, and as patents for human RFID tags suggest, Amazon are equally at home with the technology transferred to the general public. Put another way, Amazon’s broad ambitions, seen through their patents, affect us both as practitioners and also as citizens.
To negate this top-down and closed system, The Institute of Patent Infringement thus invites submissions from students, industrial designers, architects, urban planners, artists, programmers and the wider public to merge, reimagine, infringe and hack existing Amazon patents.
The crux of the open call is to emphasise the radical and emancipatory potential inherent in these new technologies assembled by Amazon. To reveal this potential, submissions may chose to challenge: the hyper individualised and consumption based nature of Amazon’s wider patent filings; the emphasis on efficiency and quantification through data collection inherent in these new technological regimes; labour, social relations and the role of automation within this; the relationship with nature and the environment; unequal global processes of production and distribution; and the affect of these technologies on everyday life.
This may include ideas working at scales from the body to the planetary and from the rural to the urban. Relevant themes may ask: can patents for the wearable monitoring of workers be appropriated to hack and monitor nature? How could Amazon’s global distribution network be rethought? Can we think of new ideas to repurpose data centres, potentially merging these with other functions? What might arise from the collective ownership and control of data?
Could fully automated warehouses be refunctioned as spaces of infinite leisure? What role does labour play in this new world? Can smart road management systems for automated cars be used for an extensive and sustainable public transport network? How could Amazon’s quest for algorithmic efficiency, be used to plan a zero growth, zero carbon economy? And how might these technologies work if bottom up and participatory rather than top-down and monopolised?
Format of Submission
- A4 sheets (maximum 3 portrait)
- A five digit numerical code (any five numbers used to identify your submission)
- A description of the proposal including what patents are being used or merged (300 words maximum)
- Black and white line drawings of proposal (a maximum of 5 drawings, see below for rules on patent illustrations)
- Submission is open to individuals or groups of architects, urban planners, designers, artists, programmers, students and anyone interested in the wider theme of the open call.
- Deadline for submissions is midnight (GMT) 16th April
- Submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org as a single PDF file in the format title_ submission-number.pdf
- Selected successful submissions will be informed of the results by the end of April.
- Any questions related to the open call can be sent to email@example.com
All submissions will be evaluated anomalously with the most relevant to the open call selected for display in the Dutch Pavillion as part of WORK, BODY, LEISURE at this year’s Venice Biennale.
A wider selection of proposals will be displayed through exhibitions at Het Niuwe Instiuttut in Rotterdam and London during Autumn 2018.
Selection will be through Het Nieuwe Instituut’s research team and the Institute of Patent Infringement.
A collection of existing Amazon patents drawings with a brief description is available to download as a pdf document from our website along with guidelines for patent illustration.
TitleOpen Call: Institute of Patent Infringement
TypeCompetition Announcement (Ideas)
Submission DeadlineApril 17, 2018 12:00 AM