Stranger Things? Exploring AI Wellness at Mozilla Festival

Mozilla Festival took place in a virtual capacity in March 2021. MozFest is “…a unique hybrid: part art, tech and society convening, part maker festival, and the premiere gathering for activists in diverse global movements fighting for a more humane digital world” (MozFest, n.d.). The notion of of the possibility to “arrive with an idea, leave with a community” is very compelling (MozFest, n.d.). The festival is structured into different spaces and themes including neurodiversity, decentralisation and shifting power in tech.

Spaces & Themes at MozFest 2021

Mozilla offered a range of support sessions on Zoom and Slack to support Facilitators with their sessions in addition to Wranglers to support us through the MozFest journey. Facilitating a live 60 minute discussion session called The Post Digital Audio Quilt: A Pop Up, Speculative & Inclusive Audio Fiction Experiment exploring AI Wellness at MozFest was both an exciting and unique opportunity. The project was inspired by FemEdTech Quilt. The Post Digital Audio Quilt involved collaborative storytelling using a range of speculative prompts, frames and provocations for example Rory’s Story Cubes and a live session with an AI tool called Philospher AI that uses GPT – 3 hosted by Open AI created by Murat Ayfer (@Mayfer) on Zoom to co-construct the story. We also explored the Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace by John Barlow from 1996. How is this relevant today and in the future? AI can bring up a wide range of issues going back to Laplace’s Demon. A range of multimodal provocations were used including quotations for example from Neuromancer (Gibson, 1948). It can be argued that people have made a choice to embrace fiction particularly as a result of the global pandemic (Morgan, 2021).

Speculative fiction (Graham et al. 2019) and social science fiction (Gerlach and Hamilton 2003) were used by Costello, Brown, Donlon, & Girme (2020) to explore what education might be like in the year 2050. The relationship between AI and higher education has been a complex subject and has been “…on the rise and have received a lot of attention in the last couple of years” (Zawacki-Richter, Marín, Bond & Gouveneur, 2019).

“The imagining of multiple worlds within the collection seeks to escape the usual utopia/dystopia dualism”

Cox, 2021

Will AI isolate ourselves from ourselves? (Costello, Brown, Donlon, & Girme, 2020: p619). To what extent can AI make us invisible? Are we witnessing the “disappearance of the teacher[?]” (Biesta, 2012). Perhaps there are “two sides of the conversation” to explore when we reflect on the use of AI in education (Selwyn, 2021).

“What might the school of 2030 be like?”

Selwyn, Pangrazio, Nemorin & Perrotta, 2019

In order to prepare for the session, I shared my journey at the #CreativeHE meetup in February 2021 and wrote a blog post about this experience here.

The Post Digital Audio Quilt. Logo created using Noun Project

Volunteers at Mozfest are called Wranglers. I am very grateful to the Wrangler assigned to the session, Ahnjili, and to the participants whose contributions were thoughtful and reflective. It is It was also possible to reflect on the session and contribute to the MozFest Studio for Tuesday 9th March here with another Facilitator, which involved answering questions in a live broadcast from Amsterdam using Zoom. The host asked the Facilitators about the extent to which AI can be creative. How can we define creativity?

MozFest used Spatial Chat which was an exciting new platform. Miro Board, the online whiteboard, was also used.

Spatial Chat

Both tools were useful. Positive feedback from a participant was recieved:

(@HebrewSimeon, 2021)

Simon Alexander also wrote about the session in a blog post on the Libraries Connected Blog post entitled ‘MozFest 2021: Using technology as a storytelling tool‘ here.

There are so many interesting AI tools. Peter Tolley, the RAU’s new Learning Technologist identified Shortlyai, an AI writing partner. Would students benefit from an AI writing partner? As Peter asked, how would issues arounn plagiarism and collusion be handled? ” AI wrote my essay?”. From Max Headroom to Delphi, another AI bot aims to answer moral questions. Perhaps connecting both AI and wellness could be seen as a moral issue:

The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, n.d.

What did Delphi say?

Intelligence, n.d.

MozFest 21 was an exciting, cutting edge and interdisciplinary event to be part of. The quotation from Bob Alotta below consolidated this:

“Whether playfully or audaciously – it is only by imagining what does not yet exist: new pathways, new solutions, new possibilities – that we can break our silos and strengthen our commitment to operate interdependently. The joy of playfulness and invention that is at the core of MozFest is critical to fueling our movements”

(J. Bob Alotta – VP, Global Programs – Mozilla In Mozilla Festival, n.d.).

Follow MozFest on Twitter here and follow the hashtag #Mozfest.

Bibliography

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Simeon, H [@HebrewSimeon] (2021, March 21) THANKS @PIPMAC6 FOR GOOD CONVERSATIONS SURROUNDING AI WELLNESS TODAY. #MOZFEST [Tweet]. Twitter. (Online) Available at: https://twitter.com/HebrewSimeon/status/1369316486716743680

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