Panel: Alternative Futures: Challenging the Legacy of Cybernetics

NYIT Auditorium on Broadway 1871 Broadway NY NY 10023 May 21, 2017 3:20 pm - 4:10 pm

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Heidi Boisvert
Lance Weiler
Daanish Masood
Lina Srivastava

This panel is an extension of the Codes and Modes Symposium, which aims to create an intervention into the uncritical excitement about virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning to establish a space for conversations about long-term socio-cultural and neurobiological impacts. Presenters will discuss how activists, scientists and artists can develop useful frameworks to explore the complex implications of using these emerging technologies for culture change. The conversation will revolve around three core themes: empathetic engagement & embodiment, algorithms of control & inequity and ethical transglobal alternatives, and feature thought-leaders across academia, social change & the cultural sector grappling with the future of storytelling.


Heidi Boisvert is a new media artist, experience designer, creative technologist, researcher & writer who creates groundbreaking games, web interactive, AR/VR & transmedia storytelling experiences for social change, as well as large-scale networked performances in dance & theatre using biocreative technology. Heidi founded futurePerfect lab, a boutique creative agency that works with non-profits to develop imaginative & playful applications of integrated media & emerging technology. Heidi also co-founded XTH, an open-source biocreative tech start up. She received her Ph.D. in Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Emerging Media Technologies at New York City College of Technology (CUNY) & a research affiliate at MIT Open DocLab.


Lance Weiler is a storyteller, entrepreneur and thought leader. An alumni of the Sundance Screenwriting Lab, he is recognized as a pioneer because of the way he mixes storytelling and technology. WIRED magazine named him “one of 25 people helping to re-invent entertainment and change the face of Hollywood.” Always interested in experimenting with new ways to tell stories and engage audiences, Lance has designed experiences that have reached millions of people via theaters, mobile devices and online. In recognition of these storytelling innovations, BUSINESSWEEK named Lance “One of the 18 Who Changed Hollywood.” He sits on a World Economic Forum steering committee for the future of content creation and is a founding member and director of the Columbia University Digital Storytelling Lab. In addition Lance teaches a course on the art, craft and business of storytelling in the 21st Century.  Lance is currently developing a slate of film, tv and gaming projects.

Daanish Masood is an investigator at BeAnotherLab, a transnational interdisciplinary group that uses art, science, and technology to promote empathy and perspective taking among diverse communities; thereby facilitating shared civic action across identity fault lines. BeAnotherLab uses VR, neuroscience, embodiment, and storytelling to allow users to feel themselves in the body of another person. By day, Daanish works at the United Nation’s Department of Political Affairs, focusing on peacebuilding in Iraq. From 2014, he has been an MIT research affiliate in Arts, Culture, and Technology.

Born and raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Daanish has lived and worked in New York for 18 years. After 9/11, he worked as a community organizer to assist immigrants facing discrimination under the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, a system for registering non-citizens on US soil that was initiated in 2002 as part of the War on Terrorism. From 2007 to 2015, Daanish worked at the UN Alliance of Civilizations, a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General that pursues experimental approaches in investigating the role of identity in violent conflict. In 2014, Daanish joined the art-science collective BeAnotherLab to develop conflict-resolution applications for The Machine to Be Another.

Lina Srivastava has worked with a group of social impact organizations, including UNESCO, the World Bank, UNICEF, the Rockefeller Foundation, MobileActive, Internews, 3Generations, Shine Global, and BYkids. An attorney by training from New York University School of Law, Lina has been involved in campaigns for several documentaries, including Oscar-winning Born into Brothels, Emmy-nominated The Devil Came on Horseback, Oscar-winning Inocente, and Sundance-award winning Who Is Dayani Cristal? The creator of the Transmedia Activism framework, which guides the development of media, art, and technology projects from story to social action, she is currently one of a handful of people in the world creating narrative-based social change initiatives with NGOs, global institutions, and independent media creators, combining both field experience with skills in documentary engagement and narrative design.