I Do Believe These Oxford People Are Too Smart For Me: The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies (Conservatism)

In the Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies: Conservatism edited by Michael Freeden and Marc Steras, keywords include:
• Human malleability – the idea that humans can be influenced/manipulated.
• Limited politics – the idea that the government should be limited in its power.
• Reactionary school – political ideas that want to return to a previously existing state.
• Radical school – the want for an extreme change to either a part or whole existing system.
• Moderate school – being ‘moderate’ within the spectrum of political ideas.
• New Right school – conservative policies from parties post-Soviet Union collapse.

In this reading, it is argued that conservatism defends limited politics, with different schools of conservatism theorising different concepts of how and what to limit the government’s power over. The reading examines if each school has a coherent argument for the defence of limited politics.

I believe that the reading is persuasive because it fulfils its aim to examine each school’s defence of limited politics. For example, the modern school offers a positive alternative to the current incoherence within conservatism schools’ defence – as the modern school defends against the belief that conservatism has to hold optimistic beliefs about political action being able to transform society and bring unity under a parliament that will be subscribed to.

The reading explores varied ideas to support its arguments, such as Muller van den Bruck’s goal for peace and order; Carlyle’s idea to get rid of parliaments in favour of leadership that bridges the nation’s goals and its citizens’ spiritual values; and Hayek’s emphasis on custom and tradition, rather than planning, as the way to ‘force’ social order among citizens.

To summarise the argument, the reading discusses what remains relevant in schools of conservatism for each’s defence. What remains relevant in organic school is the idea of one nation that is compassionate and fair with welfare; the liberal strand of the conservative idea of civil association if relevant, as it’s used with a constitutional commitment to checks on power; what is relevant in New Right is the acceptance of the need to encourage economic productivity.

The reading concludes that linking these three schools together is a critique of conservatism’s exaggeration of human malleability and ability to reshape social order, and the idea of treating the power of the state as a being that can be transformed into a changeable and effective instrument to promote well-being can be cohesive and help reshape social order.

Walking away from this text, unfortunately, I’m still not sure exactly how the argument that rationalism links together with conservatism is being explained. Initially, I had been thinking of rationalism as a framework based upon following a method to determine how to govern a society, however, I don’t how the schools’ policies critique rationalism that is mentioned in the reading. I am unable to find any accessible texts expanding upon the idea online either.

Perhaps then I have totally misunderstood? If any explanation can be provided (in a nice, ‘easy to understand even when you’re running on low fumes’ manner), I would greatly appreciate it!

5 Facts to Know About Thirteen (Anan Kurose)

1. Thirteen is born on February 3, she is currently 29 years old in the series, she’s 180cm tall, and she was born in the Kagoshima Prefecture.

Although her gender identity has been debated during MHA’s run, it’s been determined that in the localisation and the first four School Briefs light novels Thirteen was initially referred to with “he/him” pronouns.

However, in the anime, this was later changed so that Thirteen would use “she/her” pronouns. In the second databook, Thirteen is again confirmed to use “she/her” pronouns and all content henceforth has remained consistent with the use of “she/her” pronouns.

2. Thirteen is said to like museums and self-learning documentaries. She’s also a very passionate person, wanting to save people and encourage students to use their Quirks for good as heroes.

Her passion has led her to develop her own training facility (the Unforeseen Simulation Joint) to train students in search and rescue. She’s also very passionate about Quirks used for creation and assistance rather than destructive and battle-focused quirks.

She’s also shown to be very polite, “wise,” and not hesitating to join in combat against villains to protect others despite not being a ‘combat pro-hero.’ This is reflected in her stats according to the Ultra Archive Analysis:
Power 4/5 (B)
Speed 2/5 (D)
Technique 4/5 (B)
Intelligence (4/5) B
Cooperativeness (5/5) A

And also the Ultra Analysis:
Power 4/6 (B)
Speed 2/6 (D)
Technique 4/6 (B)
Wits 4/6 (B)
Pulling Force (5/6)

3. Thirteen’s surname “Kurose” contains the kanji for “black” (黒 kuro) and “rapids, current” (瀬 se), and her first name Anan contains a particle used to mean “sub-​” (亜 a) and “south” (南 nan).

The official MHA Twitter page also showed Thirteen’s prototype design, revealing that her prototype’s hero name was No. 6 and her real name would have been “Hirooki Anakuro” (written as 穴黒央宙 in Japanese). This means her real name would have literally meant “Middle Space.”

It’s also believed that her hero name and the astronaut-like costume are references to NASA’s Apollo 13.

4. Her sketch in Volume 33 shows that her forearms are black, likely an effect of her Quirk. This is suggested to be because when she was hit by debris during the war while helping other heroes escape, her hands became heavily injured.

5. Thirteen and a Class 1-B student called Kosei Tsuburaba (the guy from the sports festival on Mononoma’s team who can create solid air) are the only MHA characters in the main series so far that have received more than one volume character profile.

Michelle Deardorff’s Writing Makes Me Wonder About Many Other Questions

Keywords to note that appear in this reading: paradigm, communitarian, and Christian. A paradigm refers to a pattern or model. Communitarian refers to the philosophical idea that there is an important connection between individuals and the community, even emphasising community over individualism.

A Christian is a person who follows the Christian faith, which has many branches and denominations with varying practices and beliefs. The three key beliefs though that define are a Christian are: the belief that Jesus is the son of God, that Jesus’s birth was evangelical (an act of God), and that Jesus was crucified and resurrected for humanity’s sins so that they could be absolved.

Michelle Deardorff in her writing the 21st Century Political Science: A Reference Handbook on Christian Political Thought argues that the model early Christian philosophers used to think about political thought is different from later philosophical eras. This because the former emphasises the connection between an individual and the community with regards to the state and its link to ethics and morality, while the later uses a liberal paradigm that prioritises individual rights over communitarian needs. I believe that Deardorff’s argument is persuasive because she clearly sets up subheadings for her evidences of varied Christian thinkers to discuss their ideas and actions to showcase how either:

1. The state protects economical values, and therefore community is more important to the state to protect and therefore the state and Church cannot properly be unified.
2. The state and Church can be unified is the government is moral and correctly follows God’s will and teachings.

Deardoff proves her argument by discusses the likes of Augustine, who believed that physical membership to a Church is not an accurate representation of if someone is a ‘true citizen,’ Aquinas, who believed that if you fulfil societal roles under a moral leader justice will exist, and Jean Bodin, who argued that the duty of the state has always been to protect property.

I liked that this reading about subheadings for each of the political thinkers and figures that Deardorff referred to in the reading. It makes everything so much easier to read and understand when each idea is clearly structured. I vote that all pieces of non-fiction should be chaptered or sub-headed (depending obviously upon their length)!

A question I did have though after finishing this reading is: if Christian political thought believed that the state needs to be religious to fully develop an individual, and that the state therefore enforces laws that help people become virtuous via habits, why did they allow so much corruption to breed within government that affects the community from an ideological viewpoint?

For example, they believed that morals override the authority of positive law and the claims of the state, so when corruption is breeding and virtues and believed to be needed to maintain social order, how did it become such a widespread issue?

What do you think?

Is John Stuart Mill’s Liberty and Individuality Essay Persuasive?

Mill states that his essay’s argument is to “assert” that there is a principle (his theory for utilitarianism) that can be used to determine if a government can rightfully regulate an individual’s actions. Mill throughout his essay says that he fears that democracy can negatively influence individuality. Mill argues that if society or government interferes with liberty of action of people, it must be to prevent harm to others.

A key term to note in John Start Mill’s Liberty and Individuality essay is that when he says by “utility,” he is referring to his theory of utilitarianism. This theory states that all actions, policies, and/or laws should be judged by if they encourage the most amount of happiness of the largest number of people or not.

I believe that overall, Mill’s essay is persuasive because he clearly states his argument and provides ideas from himself and references other readings to prove his point. For example, he references Ball et al., who argues that compulsion is only justifiable if it is for protection of others. Mill uses this idea to back up his argument. Mill also is persuasive because he discusses counterarguments to his thesis, discussing how a person might be causing harm to others with actions or inaction and claims it is for the benefit of a community. However, Mill says that in cases such as these the individual is accountable for their actions and the injury it causes to others (unless there is a specific reason why the individual should be exempt from punishment).

Mill insists that society must respect individuals and their freedom, and that this cannot happen if there is not a way to pursue individual’s goals while causing no harm to their community. He says that he believes that public opinion is now what rules the world – the collective opinion of a whole population overrides the genius of one person, and this is what should determine the community’s laws, ethics, morals, etc.

I did find Mill to have a slightly cynical outlook throughout his essay, such as how he refers to the ‘mediocracy of a population’ and the ‘low state of the human mind.’ It seems to me like he views a community overall as being ‘mediocre’ in terms of their ability to think about and discuss ethical and philosophical questions. However, if he views humans like this then why does he place so much importance upon individual freedom? Is this idea also to benefit those he views as ‘genius,’ or is it because he thinks that everyone should be able to do what they want so long as they cause no harm to others?

The Mother Figure of Female Gothic Horror in ‘The Babadook’ (2014)

NB: This post was originally submitted as an essay for my undergraduate program. No changes have been made to the content, however I have added additional paragraph breaks and links to clips from the film.

Australian cinema is dominated by a homogenous identity, most often seen in the ‘battler’ trope used to represent ‘mainstream’ Australians (Whitman, 2013). However, the Australian peoples transcend these hegemonic masculinities; including gender diversity (Messerschmidt, 2019). The Babadook (dir. Jennifer Kent, 2014) is an Australian film that foregrounds a different gender identity than the mainstream.

The Babadook utilises the female gothic horror subgenre to explore the screen minority ‘mother character’ that the character of Amelia (Essie Davis) embodies. This is done as Amelia, the mother, and her son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), are trapped in a domestic nightmare setting – shown from Amelia’s point of view. This allows for the audience to engage with not only the common horror negative emotions of disgust and fear but also positive emotions and character interiority (Rikkie, 2018).

Amelia’s viewpoint is privileged in the film to show her “fractured subjectivity,” differing from ‘mainstream’ Australian representation (Quigley, 2016, p.66; Whitman, 2013).The audience is aligned with Amelia’s psyche as they witness her transition from what is considered a “good mother” to a “bad mother” as her mental state deteriorates and she grows more violent (Quigley, 2016, p.72; Quigley, 2016, p.60).

This is shown as viewers in the first scene enter Amelia’s nightmare where the shots are close-ups of her face, viewers listen to her hard breathing and discorded music, and there are irregular bright flashes of white lights behind her (Kent, 2014, 0:58-1:42; Quigley, 2016). This scene manages to be disorientating with its timing, space, and Amelia’s emotions to portray her struggling psyche (Quigley, 2019). Even as Samuel’s voice raises in volume and Amelia returns to her current environment, the audience learns that in reality she is lonely, widowed, and is caring for her son in a dark and unnerving house (Kent, 2014, Quigley, 2016).

This sense of unease continues for Amelia as soon after, close shots are shown of a sleeping Samuel with his legs over, Samuel kneading her back, and the abrasive sound of his grinding teeth is amplified to discomfort viewers (Kent, 2014, 2:49-2:52; Quigley, 2016). This setting departs Amelia from the standard white-centric working-class ‘bloke’ that is granted standard victim status in Australian films, as Amelia instead falls into the category of a female gothic horror victim due to her breaking mind (Whitman, 2013; Zhang, 2022).

Tensions rise further in the film as viewers continue to see actions from Amelia’s point of view (Zhang, 2022). Amelia is filmed with tight frames alternating with long shots that create a sense of her being lost in her surroundings (Zhang, 2022).

Even a ‘normal feminine life’ creates a sense of fear and anxiety for Amelia, setting her apart from the Australian ‘mainstream’ homogenous confident masculinity seen in films (Whitman, 2013; Zhang, 2022). For example, when at the shopping centre, instead of helping Samuel, Amelia sits alone on a couch eating ice cream as people pass by in front of her (Kent, 2014, 18:55-19:16; Quigley, 2016). The lack of ambient noise in this scene, replaced with non-diegetic music, increases the audience’s sense of Amelia’s isolation (Quigley, 2016; Zhang, 2022).

The film continues to use close-ups of Amelia’s face and makes use of regular time framings to continue this sense of unease (Quigley, 2016). Close-ups are used to show Amelia’s shock and fright in the car crash, panic and anxiety as the Babadook make its presence known in her home, and disgust in her transforming face as she strangles Samuel (Quigley, 2016).

It is a visual strategy used to show her psyche dissolving into madness (Quigley, 2016). Additionally, scenes rarely include establishing shots and often being with a de-contextualising close-up (Quigley, 2016). By breaking away from, “conventional spatial and temporal cues,” and replacing them with, “alarming” visual strategies such as these, viewers see that Amelia is psychologically breaking (Quigley, 2016, p.66).

Differing from the hegemony often expected of Australian film characters centralised on working-class masculinity, The Babadook explores the female gothic subgenre by having Amelia transform from a gothic victim to a ‘bad, monstrous mother’ as she descends into madness as Samuel is forced to defend himself against her (Whitman, 2013; Quigley, 2016; Zhang, 2022).

A ‘good mother’ is expected in the gothic female subgenre to put her child’s welfare above her own at her own risk (Zhang, 2022). This is portrayed by Amelia growing ambivalent and then violent towards Samuel, which turns her into a ‘monster,’ while Samuel takes a pivotal role in the family’s survival (Quigley, 2016).

The film explores this idea through the use of rituals that are conventionally assigned to a single mother to showcase the fragility of maternal authority rather than the working-class masculinity expected of Australian films (Whitman, 2013; Briefel, 2017).

By linking reassurance to Amelia’s identity, horror conventions are used to show the burdens of maternal responsibilities Amelia is faced with (Briefel, 2017). The Babadook uses this idea to urge viewers to reconceive how mothers take of their children, and for children to take care of their mothers (Briefel, 2017).

Initially, Amelia’s ambivalence toward Samuel grows as she becomes suspicious of his behaviour (Kent, 2014). However, tensions grow throughout the film as her suspicions shift from Samuel to the possibility of an unknown being stalking her family, and yet despite this Amelia’s ambivalence toward Samuel remains and even increases despite her now lacking suspicion of him. This attitude leads to Amelia initially acting irritated toward Samuel until she turns violent towards him (Quigley, 2016).

When Amelia was a worn-out, struggling mother suffering from grief, she acts in the interests of Samuel and therefore is a ‘good mother,’ including when despite her suspicion she defends him against her sister and the authorities (Quigley, 2016).

But after Amelia’s initial mask of self-sacrifice for her son falls and her ‘real’ feelings are shown as she becomes wild and violent (Zhang, 2022). She kills her family dog and wants to kill Samuel, who is forced to defend himself against her (Kent, 2014). Amelia takes on a different physique, gaining a deep voice and superhuman agility (shown when she climbs up the door to Samuel’s bedroom) that creates unease for viewers as her natural movements are sped up to appear awkward (Quigley, 2016; Zhang, 2022).

Amelia gains pale and fragile features with thin blond hair that twists into a horrifying mask as she becomes unrecognisable and becomes a ‘bad mother’ (Zhang, 2022). She has embraced the ‘bad mother’ figure and the ‘horror’ of maternal ambivalence – a far cry from the expected Australian ‘battler’ representation on-screen (Whitman, 2013; Quigley, 2016; Quigley, 2019).

As Amelia questions her feelings about her son, and as her mindset darkens, this is reflected within the household; a domestic, feminine setting (Whitman, 2013). This is expected of a household within the female gothic genre (Quigley, 2016). This space conforms to the traditional gothic dark and oppressive household trope that reflects negative emotions growing within characters as the house ‘darkens’ (Quigley, 2016).

The house palette is limited to cool and black colours and is fashioned to appear so that it is not bound to a sense of time, and the unease characters feel while in the household grows as Amelia’s psyche deteriorates (Quigley, 2016). This is done by designing the house so that it appears to be based upon reality, but is modern and doesn’t look “quite right” to a viewer’s eyes (Quigley, 2019, p.176).

How set-designs actual this sense of unease is by adding gothic elements to the household such as a cool palette and black colours, having a Victorian-Esque terrace, and stage lighting, objects, and characters so that visuals appear in ‘monstrous’ forms and this appears more frequently as Amelia’s psyche breaks (Quigley, 2016; Quigley, 2019; Zhang, 2022).

This is because Amelia’s relationship with the house exposes her fears and worries (Quigley, 2016). Her relationship with the house’s ‘forbidden’ spaces showcases to audiences how her fears in the house are hidden away physically, mirroring how she subconsciously hides these fears away (Quigley, 2016). This is because, in gothic films, forbidden spaces are used frequently as a metaphor for a “repressed experience,” such as the car accident in The Babadook (Quigley, 2016, 69).

For example, when Amelia sees cockroaches crawling out of a hole in the kitchen wall; the audience sees that in the next scene the whole is gone (Kent, 2014, 41:40-41:54). This suggests that the cockroaches are a physical manifestation of Amelia’s deteriorating mental state (Quigley, 2016). Therefore, Amelia’s relationship with her house correlates with her relations with herself.

This is further suggested as her most violent confrontations throughout the film are with Samuel, Oskar (Benjamin Windspear), and the Babadook (Quigley, 2016; Quigley, 2019). All of these take encounters place in the basement, and therefore the basement ultimately becomes ‘home’ to the manifestation of her fears that she must confront (Quigley, 2016).

A ‘female gothic’ lead such as Amelia is characterised by a woman feeling threatened by a vicious male figure (Quigley, 2016). This conflicts with the typical Australian representation of a ‘battler,’ who is someone the audience wants to root for and instead Amelia is placed in a position where a ‘male’ figure such as the Babadook is the monster and so she is becoming too (Whitman; Quigley, 2016).

Although this is most often a character’s husband or authority figure, The Babadook reinvents this aspect by having Amelia suspicious of her son, rather than her deceased husband – reorganising her mother’s relationship with her son (Quigley, 2016; Zhang, 2022). The Babadook showcases maternal horror by exploring “reassurance as a fraught motherly act, one that is imbricated with the trauma of having to believe in the child’s monsters” (Briefel, 2017, p.1).

As Amelia is exposed more to these ‘forbidden’ areas throughout the film; the audience witnesses her ‘mother character’ and identity being pulled apart as expected of this subgenre. It is not until (Amelia resists the Babadook and saves her son, that she regains her ‘good mother’ status as expected in the gothic female subgenre and maternal melodrama; putting her child’s welfare above her own at her own risk (Zhang, 2022).

Amelia does not represent the ‘mainstream’ Australian identity (Whitman, 2013). Instead, The Babadook utilises the female gothic subgenre to explore the ‘mother character’ that the character of A. Melia represents. This is done as Amelia, the mother, and her son, Samuel is stuck in a nightmare setting shown from Amelia’s point of view as Amelia transforms from a ‘good mother’ to a ‘bad mother (Quigley, 2016).

Works Cited

Briefel, A. (2017). Parenting through Horror: Reassurance in Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook. Camera Obscura, 32(2), 1-27. 10.1215/0270534603924628

Kent, J. (Director). (2014). The Babadook [Film]. Madman Entertainment.

Mersserschmidt, J. (2019). The Salient of “Hegemonic Masculinity.” Men and Masculinities, 22(1), 85-91. 10.1177/1097184X18805555

Rikkie, S. (2018). Mastering Fear: Women, Emotions, and Contemporary Horror. Bloomsbury. 10.5040/9781501446744

Quigley, P. (2016). When Good Mothers Go Bad: Genre and Gender in The Babadook. The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, 15(1), 57-75.

Quigley, P. (2019). The Babadook (2014), maternal Gothic, and the ‘woman’s horror film. Routledge. 9781315200545

Whitman, K. (2013). The ‘Aussie Battler’ and the Hegemony of Centralising Working-Class Masculinity in Australia. Australian Feminist Studies, 28(75), 50-64.  10.1080/0816649.2012.788026

Zhang, Q. (2022). It’s All About Repetition: Maternal Time in Horror from Jeanne Dielman (1975)to The Babadook (2014). Monstrum, 5(1), 46-65.

Taking a Look at Thucydides, Pericles’ Funeral Oration

Translation of Pericles’ Funeral Oration via the University of Minnesota: http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/education/thucydides.html

Personally, what I found hardest about this reading was understanding the vocabulary and grammar structures used. Because the reading is a translation of a funeral oration given thousands of years ago, translating the speech into an easily accessible format for today’s readers is difficult because of the language’s grandiose nature. It took me many readings going through each sentence individually to translate each into a way that I understand, and after doing this I could reread the speech in English I more easily could understand.

(I suspect this must be a part of the reason why people who study philosophy and political science are always buried in readings. Aside from the vast amount they have to read, they also have to spend a while with each text…

Although I understand the merit of reading from the ‘source’ text of Thucydides’ speech, it also makes me wonder that perhaps these sorts of dense literature should be translated into an easier-to-understand nature to make them more accessible to anyone interested in reading them. Currently, it reminds me of the age-old argument that the visual arts industry is too high-brow. Perhaps it would be beneficial to forfeit the ‘culture’ of the discipline viewed by the public’s eyes in favour of accessibility for non-niche works? However, perhaps I am too unaware of the nature of the philosophy and political science fields to have a proper opinion about this particular.

With regards to the oration itself, it seems to me that Pericles in his 430 BCE funeral oration praises Athens’ public funeral customs while also, interestingly, criticising the inclusion of a funeral speech in the customs. He says that a speaker cannot be expected to satisfy the deceased’s loved ones because they would want a grand retelling of the deceased’s deeds, but then states that doing this might make others feel jealous of thinking that the speaker is exaggerating.

Pericles then moves on to the main argument of his speech – that Athens is great and democracy should be fought for. He praises the city of Athens and he does this to praise the war effort of Athens’ citizens by glorifying the city of Athens. Pericles in his speech focuses on Athens’ political ideologies and how this makes Athens great.

He uses examples of Athens’ migration policy and equality beliefs to tell the audience that happiness means ‘to be free.’ Pericles summarises that you must fight for freedom, and therefore his audience should engage with the war effort such as their deceased loved ones.

I think that the speech is persuasive because Pericles initially discusses the war heroes, and Athens’s greatness, and then addresses his audience after setting the stage for a glorified and equal nation. Pericles then praises Athens’ military and urges the citizens to support the war because they are fighting for important things such as happiness and freedom. He’s pretty much hitting up the ethos-pathos-logo trifecta.

He uses the example of the deceased who gave their lives for the war – an emotional ink – to protect Athens, its citizens, and their freedom to persuade the audience. Pericles then praises Athens for democracy and how he believes that it shows trust in its citizens and provides freedom – comparing the policies of their war enemy to persuade them into the belief that Athens is great and the war against a worse nation is good.

He calls the deceased men of merit and says that fighting and dying for one’s country is a great honour. He furthers this point by saying that any bad traits you may have been outweighed by being a good citizen. Pericles encourages national pride by telling his audience to set aside their desires for a greater cause like their loved ones who are deceased because Athens is an equal, open-minded, and smart nation and therefore its people also have these traits. Therefore, he says that the greatest honour a citizen could have is to die for the freedom of Athens for democracy…

5 Facts to Know About Recovery Girl (Shūzenji Chiyo)

1. Recovery Girl’s real name is Shūzenji Chiyo, her height is only 115cm, her blood type is B, she was born in Tokyo, and her birthday is April 4th (which means she has the same birthday as Shigaraki, Tskuachi [the police force detective] and Kesagiriman Man [a Pro Hero who was a part of the Hassaikai raid]).

2. According to Recovery Girl’s character profile, her favourite thing is candy and she’s worked at U.A. for over 40 years. Due to how long she’s been at U.A. her opinions and words hold just as much weight as Principal Nezu’s. Horikoshi has also stated that Recovery girl is the supporting mainstay of U.A.

3. Recovery Girl’s first English voice actress Juli Erickson retired, and Recovery Girl’s voice acting role was given to Luci Christian. Luci Christian also voices Uraraka.

4. Recovery Girl’s first name “Chiyo” contains the characters for “heal” (治 chi) and “bestow” (与 yo). Her surname “Shūzenji” contains the characters for “discipline” (修 shū), “virtuous” (善 zen) and “Buddhist temple” (寺 ji). It’s believed that the first part of this surname may come from the word “repair, mend” ((しゅう)[しゅう]修(しゅう)[ぜん] shūzen) and/or may be a tribute to Shuzenji, which is a town in Shizuoka known for its hot springs, since it has the same spelling.

5. According to the Ultra Archive Recovery Girl’s stats are:
Power 1/5 (E)
Speed 1/5 (E)
Technique 5/5 (A)
Intelligence 5/5 (A)
Cooperativeness 4/5 (B)

According to the Ultra Analysis her stats are:
Power 1/6 (E)
Speed 1/6 (E)
Technique 5/6 (A)
Wits 5/6 (A)
Recovery 6/6 (S)

Australian Cinema as ‘Outward-Looking’

NB: This was a presentation for university I’ve reworked into a post. The content is the same, but the format is different.

Historically, Australian cinema was dominated by films emphasising the representation of cultural identity. Films were interested in sharing Australian stories, histories, characters and landscapes.  However, Goldsmith states over the past 20 years, Australian cinemas’ international relationships and production policies have become more complex, leading him to characterise contemporary Australian cinema as ‘outward-looking.’ This refers to how an Australian film can ‘outwardly look’ Australian but be produced, funded, and collaborated internationally (or vice versa).

Two examples of this include The Great Gatsby and Happy Feet, which are among the top 20 highest-grossing Australian films. They are not dominated by an Australian cast, crew, story, landscape, etc. but The Great Gatsby was filmed in Sydney by an Australian director and Happy Feet was an international collaboration between the USA and Australia.

Goldsmith argues that a film can be Australian if it also acknowledges the cultural objectives of the government’s legislation in place to showcase Australian identity and story spaces.

Stratton uses the iconic example of The Castle and how it is clearly Australian – centred around an Australian family and their father.

It’s known for its, “Australian and dry humour,” its well-lived space, and its sincerity and honesty which comes across as relatable to its audience. The Castle is made by Australians for Australians; as evidenced by how actors wore their ugg boots and jeans, and dialogue was taken from familial interactions the cast had with their families themselves. It also makes use of the typical Australian trope of the underdog.

Another Australian film that Stratton discusses is The Rabbit-Proof Fence. This film for many Australians at the time of its release was their first direct experience with the stolen generations – shocking audiences with how brutally First Nations families have been torn apart.

Interestingly, another example of an Australian film Stratton gives is The Devil’s Playground. It explores the raising of children and how they navigate their identities while going through puberty as religion and physical needs influence them. Although this film can be easily globalised with regard to its setting and characters, it is still an Australian film.

Therefore, the idea of diversity in Australian characters is important to discuss. Common tropes seen include the ‘underdog’ and the ‘battler,’ the latter usually being a working, middle-class white man. However, Australian peoples are much more diverse.

For example, his diversity is seen in Paul Cox’s films, which are based upon auteur theory (so Cox as the director is considered the ‘author’ of his films). He aims to explore the lives and loves of ordinary people. His film Innocence is an Australian film that follows the lives of love of two Australian seniors, differing from the typical age range of main characters shown on screen in Australian films.

Nowadays, as Gaunson explains, films that are government-funded because of policies in place informed by the national identity agenda, emphasise cultural prestige and middle-class respectability over commercialism or pure entertainment. Screen Australia also states its dedication to diversity on screen and within film crews to explore different Australian identities and represent a modern Australia. Since 2008 Screen Australia has also been prioritising audiences and commercial filmmaking, causing a much broader range of films to be made.

Gauson states that this shift has been reflected in the last decade as more diverse genres, stories, spaces, and characters have been made such as The Sapphires, I Am Mother, Paper Planes, and more.

For example, Paper Planes explores the life of a young Australian boy suffering the loss of his mother – discovering a talent and love for aerodynamic paper planes and committing to competing in the regional finals of a paper plane flying competition.

This isn’t to say though that all recent Australian films have to explore something aside from common Australian tropes involving things like the outback, bush, ‘battlers’ and underdogs. For example, Rams, takes place in remote Western Australia and explores the communities and lives of two estranged brothers who raise sheep.

With the recent COVID-19 pandemic heavily affecting how people work, Australian films have been dominating the film industry. In early February 2021, four of the top five films were Australian: The Dry, a crime mystery set in a small Victorian town, Penguin Bloom, where a family whose mother is suffering from an accident lives are touched by a magpie, Long Story Short, a comedy romance where the groom is sent back in time, and High Ground, where a local Aboriginal tribe is threatened by a settlement post-WW1. All are very different stories and even genres but are distinctly Australian with their characters and spaces.

Each film, like Australian films that are not involved in international collaboration such as Hollywood productions, does not have a large budget and therefore limited marketing opportunities. What Australian films such as these do benefit though from include positive word of mouth.

Ryan and McWilliam further discuss how they believe the Australian screen industry is ‘booming’ currently. Due to Queensland and Northern Territory’s continued ability for film productions to continue across 2020. Additionally, Australian production studios have been gaining lots of work, especially in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast. Existing studios, Ryan and McWilliam state, were also already booked for some time and they show no signs of slowing down. Australia’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the delayed vaccination goals, has proven attractive to Hollywood in particular.

Ryan and McWilliam say that current Australian movies without international collaboration dominate Australia’s current film market and are increasingly focused on telling local stories in new ways to explore Australian spaces and identities. However, the demand for production studios to work on international films is also not slowing down. One of such films in production currently is the Mad Max prequel, titled Furiosa, which is, “expected to become the biggest film ever to be made in Australia.”

Mad Max is a Hollywood movie filmed and collaborated with Australian companies – and is part of the action genre. For Hollywood films filmed and produced by Americans, the action genre Howell argues only emphasises, “spectacular representations of bodies in motion,
physical confrontations, and challenging feats.” However, Howell explains that the action genre is also a part of Australia’s cinema history.

Action however for Australian films tends to be blended or hybridised among genres; including action-comedy, action-mystery, and action-adventure. This is seen in Australia’s highest-ever grossing film, Crocodile Dundee, a 1986 action-comedy film. This blended genres approach to action is something that Australia offers to action films that are being produced internationally though Howell argues. They use the example of Mad Max: Fury Road, stating that it is not typical Hollywood ‘faceless’ entertainment. Howell argues that Australia’s blockbuster action success with Fury Road evidences Australia’s different attitude towards action, distinct from Hollywood’s.

Howell also argues that action genre films collaborated with Australian production, “channels Australian cinematic themes and imagery in cinema,” and suggests that this is a positive Australian cinema has to offer transnationally going into the future.

Ryan and McWilliam’s statement that current Australian productions without international collaboration are increasingly focused on telling local stories in new ways to explore Australian spaces and identities is also reflected in the film Blaze, which is currently showing in cinemas. However, despite the positive response to this film and its selection and screening at the 2022 Sydney Film Festival and 2022 Tribeca Film Festival, it suffers from scarce marketing and screenings in cinemas.

In Sydney only three cinemas, in Melbourne three, and in South-East Queensland four cinemas are playing the film. The official trailer for the movie was not even released until one month prior to its release date and was only posted to a small YouTube channel owned by the production company’s owner with 123 subscribers. It has been unable to generate much ‘word of mouth’ or reviews on popular websites.

It seems that local Australian cinema will continue its struggle in the future of reaching box office mass success when competing with international films, but networks such as SBS and Paramount+ in particular do buy these Australian films to maintain their policy quotas for airing diverse Australian entertainment and representation; and local Australian stories will continued to be made due to federal funding and policies.

However, the demand for production studios to work on international films is also not slowing down as Ryan and McWilliam state. Elvis, despite being a Hollywood movie, is an Australian film because it’s produced by the Australian Bazmark Films production company, which is owned by the Australian director Mark “Baz” Lurhmann (who also directed The Great Gatsby). Lurhmann’s company proudly displays its Australian status, as its logo in the Australian coat of arms. Elvis has been much box office success internationally, grossing over $275 million, making three times over its budget.

Works Cited

Barton, Del Kathryn, director. Blaze. Causeway Films, 2022.

Blair, Wayne, director. The Sapphires. Goalpost Pictures, 2012.

Connolly, Robert, director. The Dry. Screen Australia, 2020.

Cox, Paul, director. Innocence. Cinemavault Releasing, 2000.

Faiman, Peter, director. Crocodile Dundee. RimFire Films, 1986. “Family.” David Stratton’s Stories of Australian Cinema, directed by Sally Aitken, season 1, episode 3, ABC, 2017. Informit, https://searchinformitorg.ezproxy.library.uq.edu.au/doi/10.3316/edutv.1883940. Accessed 27 Aug. 2022.

Featheringham, Rowan, director. Paper Planes. Arenamedia, 2015.

Gaunson, Stephen. “Australian cinema is reaping box office rewards during the pandemic. Can the trend continue?” The Conversation, 18 Feb. 2021, https://theconversation.com/australian-cinema-is-reaping-box-office-rewards-during-the-pandemic-can-the-trend-continue-155457. Accessed 27 Aug. 2022.

Goldsmith, Ben. “Outward-looking Australian cinema.” Studies in Australasian Cinema, vol. 4 no. 3, 2014, pp. 199-214, Taylor &Francis Online, doi:10.1386/sac.4.3.199_1

Howell, Amanda. “The Action Genre and the ‘International Turn’ in Australian Cinema.” Australian Film Genre, edited by Kelly McWilliam & Mark David Ryan. Routledge, 2021, pp. 26-37. BlackBoard, https://learn.uq.edu.au/webapps/blackboard/execute/content/file?cmd=view&content_id=_7775568_1&course_id=_161341_1.

Ivin, Glendyn, director. Penguin Bloom. Screen Australia, 2020.

Johnson, Stephen Maxwell, director. High Ground. High Ground Pictures, 2020.

Lawson, Josh, director. Long Story Short. StudioCanal, 2021.

Luhrmann, Baz, director. Elvis. Bazmark Films, 2022.

Luhrmann, Baz, director. The Great Gatsby. Village Roadshow Pictures, 2013.

Miller, George, director. Happy Feet. Village Roadshow Pictures, 2006.

Miller, George, director. Max Max: Fury Road. Village Roadshow Pictures, 2015.

Noyce, Phillip, director. Rabbit-Proof Fence. Rumbalara Films, 2002.

Ryan, Mark David, & McWilliam, Kelly. “International franchises love filming in ‘Aussiewood’ – but the local industry is booming too.” The Conversation, 28 Jun, 2021, https://theconversation.com/international-franchises-love-filming-in-aussie-wood-but-the-local-industry-is-booming-too-162861. Accessed 27 Aug. 2022.

Schepisi, Fred, director. The Devil’s Playground. The Film House, 1976.

Sims, Jeremy, director. Rams. WBMC, 2020.

Sitch, Rob, director. The Castle. Working Dog Productions, 1997.

Sputore, Grant, director. I Am Mother. Penguin Empire, 2019.

Whitman, Kirsty. “The ‘Aussie Battler’ and the Hegemony of Centralising Working-Clas Masculinity in Australia.” Australian Feminist Studies, vol.28 no. 75, 2013, pp. 50-64. Taylor &Francis Online, doi:10.1080/08164649.2012.758026

Media Platforms: Fundamentals and Harm

What is a media platform? Where do they come from? And, why should we think critically about them?

Digital media platforms originated from the mass media culture of the 20th century (such as television), but also the engineering of computational devices (such as surveillance devices) (Carah). Media platforms are a network of relations between machines, humans, and the environment based on data, code, algorithms, human activity, social relationships, and more (Carah).

Media platforms are data-driven, meaning that their purpose is to collect and process information to act upon (Carah). Therefore, the experiences and engagement users have on media platforms are organised by the algorithms inherit to these devices (Carah).

We should think critically about media platforms because media platforms are linked to our environments and infrastructures of being, and act as our habits and materials that allow us to express ourselves (Carah). Platforms are so intertwined with our lives that it is important to recognise what influences these platforms that collect, process, and use our information (Aliamo & Kallinikos; Carah).

For example, platforms such as YouTube use algorithms to increase engagement and connectivity to keep people engaged on the platform (see Fig. 1) (Cooper).

Figure 1. Sritan Motati. “Simplified diagram of the recommender system used by YouTube.” How YouTube Knows What You Want to Watch, 14 Mar. 2021, https://medium.com/techtalkers/how-youtube-knows-what-you-want-to-watch- 212a24d79f49

As seen in the above diagram, the algorithm recommends videos to users based on what videos other users have engaged with to attempt to keep a user’s attention on the platform for as long as possible (Cooper). This aligns with the argument that media platforms are economically, culturally, and politically powerful (Carah).

Therefore, it is important to think critically about media platforms to understand how they use our habits and engagement to fulfil a goal – such as how YouTube aims to keep users engage with content to keep them on the platform, to ultimately make a profit by showing them ads (Cooper).

Hicks provides another example of the importance of critically thinking about platforms by exploring the history of online dating. Hicks explains how algorithms initially aimed to match people based upon the patriarchal idea that women were restricted in society and needed to marry a professional man to gain status. However, as hook-up culture developed and societal expectations continue to shift, it is important to consider how these platforms also shift as they are influenced by the people who make them and their biases (Hicks).

What is simulation and optimisation of media platforms?

Simulation refers to images, words, or sequences produced by a code based upon data and information that has been collected and processed (Carah). Simulation technologies are predictive, observing what people have done in the past or are currently doing to build simulations that set the coordinates of the task that the program will complete (Carah). For example, thispersondoesnotexist.com showcases images of people that look ‘real’ but don’t represent a ‘real body’ in the world (see Fig. 3) (Carah).

Figure 2. Michael Reilly & Keon Parsa. “A Collage of AI-generated faces offered for sale.” Can You Tell Who Is Real or Fake Just form a Picture?” Psychology Today, 21 Jan. 2021, https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/dissecting-plastic- surgery/202101/can-you-tell-who-is-real-or-fake-just-picture

Instead, an image is produced by an automated data-driven model due to data received, and a simultaneous algorithm can recognise a person in the simulated image. This is why, as seen in Fig. 3, errors can also occur within the images created (Carah). However, simulated algorithms can learn, and the more they learn and perform their requested task, the more accurate they become (Carah).

CGI Instagram influencers are another example of simulation (see Fig. 3) (Carah).

Figure 3. Nikki Gilliland. “CGI Virtual Influencer Shudu Posting for Fenty Beauty on Instagram.” Are Virtual stars the next step for influencer marketing? 13 Feb. 2018, https://econsultancy.com/are-virtual-stars-the-next-step-for-influencer- marketing/

These simulated influencers are considered ‘easier’ to work with than people, as they do whatever they are simulated to do as seen in Fig. 3 (Carah). They can contour to any pose, wear any clothes, and be in any location – giving full control over them to their producers (Carah; GRIN). An example includes Shudu, who is a digital supermodel that companies such as Fenty Beauty, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and The New Yorker have collaborated with to promote their merchandise (GRIN).

Optimisation then refers to creating the most accurate and efficient algorithm possible (Carah). The process involves decision-making at multiple layers including data collection, data cleaning and coding, data processing, prediction and decision-making, and application (Carah). The below image showcases the schematics of an Amazon Echo (see Fig. 4) (Crawford & Joler).

Figure 4. Kate Crawford & Vladan Joler. “Amazon Echo Dot (schematics).” Anatomy of an AI System, 7 Sep. 2018, https://anatomyof.ai/

Even in the most common interaction (command and response), many features are being used including optimisation, as the schematics of a device work to complete a task as seen in the above image (Crawford & Joler). Crawford and Joler state that the bottom of the map in Fig 5. shows the history of human capacity and knowledge, which Amazon uses to then train the Echo device to become as optimised as possible.

Figure 5. Kate Crawford & Vladan Joler. “Anatomy of an AI System.” Anatomy of an AI System, 7 Sep. 2018, https://anatomyof.ai/

Amazon’s Alexa is also being trained to interpret commands more precisely to trigger actions that map to the user’s commands more accurately to build a complete model of the user’s preferences, habits, and desires (Carah). This optimisation is made possible because these devices rely upon the assimilation, analysis and optimisation of several human- generated images, texts, and videos powered by the extraction of non-renewable materials, labour, and data to work as accurately and efficiently as possible (Crawford & Joler).

How do algorithms cause harm (and what can we do about it?)

Algorithms are created by humans and therefore are influenced by biases (Crawford & Paglen). Therefore, it is important to ask whose ideas and biases algorithms are being built around (Carah). Algorithms are supposed to remain hidden in nature but are political because they are based upon assumptions and these assumptions can cause discrimination (Crawford & Paglen). It is important to understand these assumptions to avoid reinforcing histories of racial and gender discrimination that cause harm (Carah; Crawford & Paglen). This is referred to as harm of allocation and representation (Carah).

Allocation is immediate harm such as economic or quantifiable, while representation is long-term harm such as cultural or a harm that is difficult to formalise (Carah). These allocations are based upon classifications that are made by making judgements about a range of data such as features, predictors, and variables (Carah). To make this happen, a model is created and ‘trained’ using ‘training data’ (Carah). After the model is built it is then ‘tested’ with previously unseen ‘test data’ (Carah).

An example of these algorithms causing harm comes from 2015, when it was revealed that Google Images would show only 11% of images containing women when “CEO” was searched. This did not reflect the 27% of women who were CEOs in the USA at the time (see Fig. 6) (Carah).

Figure 6. Jennifer Langston. “Percentage of women in top 100 Google image search results for CEO: 11%. Percentage of U.S. CEOs who are women: 27%.” Who’s a CEO? Google images results can shift gender bias, 9 Apr. 2017, https://www.washington.edu/news/2015/04/09/whos-a-ceo-google-image-results-can-shift-gender-biases/

A few months later, another study then revealed that Google advertisements for high-income jobs were shown much more often to men than women (Carah). Although Google does not allow advertisers to discriminate when they are optimising their ads, platforms such as Facebook do allow their users to avoid types of people being shown an advertisement by choosing which classifications associated with a category of people, they don’t want to be seeing their ads during the optimisation process (Carah; Bucher).

Additionally, it was suggested that past behaviour of users taught the algorithm that men clicked more on these high-income ads than women, and therefore learned to only show these adverts to men (Carah). These examples reinforce gendered discrimination (Carah).

To combat the harm that algorithms can cause, there needs to be algorithmic accountability (Carah). This means that algorithms need to be made transparent, observable and accountable to the public (Carah).

Discussion of: Excavating AI – The Politics of Images in Machine Learning Training Sets by Kate Crawford and Trevor Paglen

ImageNet is a common training set of machine learning used to train articulate intelligence systems (Crawford & Paglen). It perfectly showcases how algorithms are not infallible, and their biases can cause harm (Crawford & Paglen). Although many images in the database are labelled accurately, it becomes clear looking through the classifications of images including people whose assumptions have been taught to the algorithm (see Fig. 7) (Crawford & Paglen).

Figure 7. Kate Crawford and Trevor Paglen. “Excavating AI: The Politics of Training Sets of Machine Learning.” Excavating AI, 19 Sep. 2019. https://excavating.ai

Fig. 7 showcases images that are labelled as ‘woman’, but the same images are also labelled as ‘ball-buster’ and ‘ball-breaker’ – defined in the figure as a ‘demanding woman who destroys men’s confidence – without any discernible reason (Crawford & Paglen).

Because machine systems are programmed by humans, they are not free from assumptions and biases (Carah; Crawford & Paglen). Therefore, it is important to consider the effects of these assumptions upon the data sets used to train AI devices to avoid harm to allocations (Carah; Crawford & Paglen).

These allocations are based upon classifications made by making decisions about a range of data such as features, predictors and variables (see Fig. 8 for an example of classifications and branches of continuing sub-categories) (Crawford & Paglen).

Figure 8. Tengqi Ye. “A snapshot of two root-to-leaf branches of ImageNet: the top row is from the mammal sub-tree; the bottom row is from the vehicle sub-tree. For each synset, 6 randomly samples images are presented in the Figure.” Visual Object Detection from Lifelogs using Visual Non-lifelog Data, 10 Jan. 2018. doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.18463.46248

This is done by ‘training’ an AI by using ‘training data’ (Crawford & Paglen). After the model is built it is then ‘tested’ with new ‘test data’ (Crawford & Paglen).

Therefore, training automated interpretation of images is a social and political concern (Crawford & Paglen). This means that it is important to understand the politics within AI systems as they integrate into social frameworks to understand how they influence our decisions (Crawford & Paglen). This is especially important as these programs are now being used by companies to decide job interview offers, criminal demographics, and more (Crawford & Paglen).

Many harmful unexamined assumptions are exposed by analysing how these training sets work (Crawford & Paglen). This is because presumptions always influence how an AI system functions (Crawford & Paglen).

One way in which AI systems are ‘trained’ involve what’s called ‘deep learning’ or ‘deep neural networks’ (Crawford & Paglen). Deep learning is dominant in training AIs because it is driven by major increases in available data and computer processing power (Crawford & Paglen). Deep learning approaches can also be supervised or unsupervised, where a network is given as many examples as possible to ‘train’ a task (Crawford & Paglen).

These approaches are then used for classification tasks where it is difficult to describe features (such as training an AI to learn the difference between handwriting and a car numberplate) (Crawford & Paglen). With these approaches, each ‘layer’ of the network also adds another ‘distinction’ that the network can start to make, however, the human user cannot know how the network configured its decision-making if unsupervised (Crawford & Paglen).

If all training goes well, the trained AI will then be able to distinguish between images that it has never seen before, including inanimate objects as seen in Fig. 9 (Crawford & Paglen). Meanwhile, while the AI distinguishes images, on the software side algorithms perform a statistical survey of images to develop a model to determine the differences between the two ‘classes’ (Crawford & Paglen).

Figure 9. Kate Crawford and Trevor Paglen. “Determining what’s in an image.” Excavating AI, 19 Sep. 2019. https://excavating.ai

Despite the belief that AI and the data it utilises classify the world objectively and scientifically, politics, ideologies, prejudices, and other subjective elements are evident in AI (Crawford & Paglen). In fact, it has been determined that it is more common for an AI to be influenced by biases than not (Crawford & Paglen).

Varied training sets may also have different goals and architectural designs that need to be considered when exploring algorithm biases (Crawford & Paglen). But training sets for imaging systems all still have some features in common (Crawford & Plagen). They are fundamentally a group of photos that have been categorised and labelled in a variety of ways (Crawford & Paglen).

As a result, the sets overall structure is made up of three layers as seen in Fig. 10: overall taxonomy (the collection of classes and, if applicable, their hierarchical nesting), individual classes (the distinct categories into which images are grouped), and each individually labelled image. And politics leak into every layer of the design of a training set (Crawford & Paglen).

Figure 10. Kate Crawford and Trevor Paglen. “Taxonomy of categories.” Excavating AI, 19 Sep. 2019. https://excavating.ai

On the level down from taxonomy, there is the level of the class. Taxonomy states that ‘emotions’ is a group of visual notions (Crawford & Paglen). Therefore, at the level of the class, there are assumptions that ‘neutral’ facial expressions exist, and that there are six intense emotional states including surprised, anxious, nauseated, irate, pitiful, and cheerful (Crawford & Paglen). At the level of the labelled image, there are then other certain assumptions found such as ‘this photo describes a lady with a cheerful facial expression’ (Crawford & Paglen).

However, this is not accurate as the lady in the photo really is only mirroring a happy face (Crawford & Paglen). These images contain facial expressions that are being ‘performed,’ and therefore do not represent a person’s actual interior state since they’re only acting out facial expressions in a research facility (Crawford & Paglen). Each one of the implicit claims made at each level is, therefore, open to scrutiny, and the algorithms will make at least some errors when labelling these types of images (Crawford & Paglen).

This idea also contains a number of other assumptions as well, including the idea that the concepts contained in ‘emotions’ can be connected to photos of people’s faces (because there are six emotions and a neutral state) (Crawford & Palgen). Based upon this assumption there is a fixed relationship between a person’s facial expression and their actual interior state, meaning that the algorithms are trained to learn a correlation that is steady, quantifiable, and consistent across all photos it is given (Crawford & Paglen).

Another harmful assumption that is made about the relationship between pictures and concepts is the idea that something about a person’s basic character can be seen by analysing their facial and bodily features (Crawford & Paglen). ImageNet does this by assuming a person can be categorised by assessing their photo. Fig. 11, 12, and 13 are respectively labelled as a “loser,” “kleptomaniac” and “snob,” despite the people in the photo showing no indication of ‘being’ such ‘things’ (Crawford & Paglen).

Figure 11. Kate Crawford and Trevor Paglen. “Loser.” Excavating AI, 19 Sep. 2019. https://excavating.ai
Figure 12. Kate Crawford and Trevor Paglen. “Kleptomaniac of categories.” Excavating AI, 19 Sep. 2019. https://excavating.ai
Figure 13. Kate Crawford and Trevor Paglen. “Snob.” Excavating AI, 19 Sep. 2019. https://excavating.ai

Additionally, Princeton University researchers analysed and correlated 2.2 million words using ‘off-the-shelf’ machine learning AI software (Turner Lee, Resnick, & Barton). The words ‘woman’ and ‘girl’ were found to be more frequently associated with the arts than with science and math, while these words were most likely to be associated with men (Turner Lee, Resnick, & Barton). European names were also viewed as more ‘pleasant’ than African-American names (Turner Lee, Resnick, & Barton).

By analysing word associations within the training data, it is clear to see that the machine learning algorithm adopted racial and gender biases that it was shown by humans (Turner Lee, Resnick, & Barton). If these biases present in the algorithms were used as part of a search engine ranking algorithm or in an auto- complete tool, this could reinforce racial and gender biases over time (Turner Lee, Resnick, & Barton).

It is clear that training sets of machine learning used to train articulate intelligence systems contain biases (Crawford & Paglen). Without properly understanding how these biases come to be and how they influence decisions made by AI, harmful assumptions continue to be perpetuated and can cause allocations of harm (Crawford & Paglen).

Works Cited
Alaimo, Cristina, & Kallinikos, Jannis. “Computing the everyday: Social media as data platforms.” The Information Society, vol. 33, no. 4, 2017, pp. 175-191, Taylor & Francis Online, doi: 10.1080/01972243.2017.1318327

Bucher, Taina. “The algorithmic imaginary: exploring the ordinary affects of Facebook algorithms.” Information, Communication, and Society, vol. 20, no. 1, 2017, Taylor & Francis Online, doi: 10.1080/1369118X.2016.1154086

Carah, Nicholas. COMU3110 Digital Platforms Seminars 1-6. 2022, University of Queensland, Saint Lucia. Class lecture.

Cooper, Paige. “How the YouTube Algorithm Works in 2022: The Complete Guide.” Hootsuite, MLA, 21 Jun. 2021, https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-the-youtube-algorithm-works/

Crawford, Kate, & Joler, Vladan. “The Amazon Echo As An Anatomical Map of Human Labor, Data and Planetary Resources.” AI Now Institute and Share Lab, MLA, 7 Sep. 2018, https://anatomyof.ai/

Crawford, Kate, & Paglen, Trevor. “Excavating AI: The Politics of Training Sets of Machine Learning.” Excavating AI, MLA, 19 Sep. 2019, https://excavating.ai/

GRIN. “CGI Influencers: What Are They and How to Work With Them.” GRIN, MLA, 22 May. 2022, https://grin.co/blog/cgi-influencers/

Hicks, Mar. “Computer Love: Replicating Social Order Through Early Computer Dating Systems.” Gender New Media and Technology. Vol. 10, 3016, doi: 10.7264/N3NP22QR

Turner Lee, Nicol., Resnick, Paul., & Barton, Genie. “Algorithmic bias detection and mitigation: best practices and policies to reduce consumer harms.”

Brookings, MLA, 22 May. 2019, https://www.brookings.edu/research/algorithmic-bias-detection-and mitigation-best-practices-and-policies-to-reduce-consumer-harms/#footnote-11

Evrigenis’ The State of Nature in Response to Hobbes’ State of Nature

With reference to: Hobbes and Evrigenis

Fun Fact: What I found most difficult about Evrigenis’ writing is how overwhelming it can be with so many other works and terms referenced within. I had to keep flicking back to his keyword section or re-read sentences many times. I had to keep rereading individual sentences all the time when the ‘Leviathan’ was mentioned because it wasn’t in the keyword section and my first thought when reading ‘Leviathan’ as a word is to always think of the mythological sea serpent creature. Turns out, the work ‘Leviathan’ is actually referencing Hobbes’ 1651 text Leviathan. Please prayer for me that I develop more brain cells as couldn’t find any while writing this post.

Ioannis D Evrigenis’ chapter ‘The State of Nature’ from Images of Anarchy: The Rhetoric and Science responds to Hobbes’s State of Nature. Evrigenis discusses the paradoxical nature of Hobbes’ political thoughts with regards the state of nature. Evrigenis suggests that the theory has become widespread is because these types of theories showcase how humans are shaped by their experiences and environments in a way that allows us to want different things.

Evrigenis argues that Hobbes’ theory is embedded in the idea that humans are fearful – that humans are shaped by their experiences and environments in ways that lead them to want different things and seek to protect themselves. This weaves into concept of summum malum. Summum malum within the context of this reading refers to Hobbes’ idea that humans live with ‘radical uncertainty.’ They are driven by a fear of a violent death and this makes attempts at living a communal life impossible. Instead, Hobbes says that humans are solitary creatures.

Hobbes’ state of nature also has a place in modern political theory which sees his ideas as a reasonable exception to the rules – making it important to understand how this theory can link to the importance on having laws and a governing system that can hold order of peace. Hobbes suggested three parts to a system: body, man, citizen. Hobbes identified the summum malum as his own ‘starting point.’ Hobbes believed that humans desire different things and will work towards what they want out of fear. With this attitude, it makes it easier for humans to ‘submit’ to a fairly minor inconveniences of a life under a government; since we already understand that life will have some inconveniences.

Evrigenis explains that Hobbes argues this point because there are two principal attributes in his state of nature: anarchy and equality. These are the consequences of a life without a common power. For Hobbes, these two attributes make state of nature a condition based in uncertainty. Therefore, this is something that people would rationally want to leave behind as under anarchy the system’s focus is on war and international law, while under equality the focus is internal arrangements and issues like obligations and rights.

I believe that the argument is persuasive because Evrigenis is discussing how Hobbes’ State of Nature theory relates to governing systems from a theoretical viewpoint by analysing what Hobbes proposes.