Calculating Empires
Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler 
Fondazione Prada Osservatorio, Milan (IT)

How can we understand the pervasive power of technology at this moment in history and its role in our lives? How did computational systems develop from historical practices of communication, classification, and control, and vice versa? And what are the material impacts of planetary-scale technology on our planet?

These are some of the questions that artists and researchers Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler are answering at the Fondazione Prada Osservatorio in Milan.
The exhibition Calculating Empires maps our technological present by showing how power and technology have been interconnected since 1500 and by asking how we got here and consider where we might be going.

Anatomy of AI System is an exploded view of the case study object Crawford and Joler took as representative of an AI powered system: the Amazon Echo. 
AI powered systems have a huge impact on ecology, they require a great amount of energy and resources like water and rare minerals, whose impact can be difficult to track. 
This anatomical map displays the three central extractive processes required to run any large-scale AI system: material resources, human labor, and data, from the design and development to the actual life, to its death (and hopefully its recycling). The work is also published on the website

Calculating Empires Map Room is an installation showing on a map diptych how the empires of the past 5 centuries are echoed in the technology companies of today. The audience is immersed in the spatial narrative that unfolds on the two facing walls for more than 24 m.
Communication and Computation: the map reveals the myriad of our communication devices: interfaces, infrastructures, data practices, and computational architectures and hardware. 
Control and classification: the map explores how these technologies are woven into social practices of classification and control: from prisons to policing, time to education, colonialism and economic production, to the multitude of military systems.