Who Owns Your Ideas? — Upcoming Lecture

Who Owns Your Ideas? — Upcoming Lecture

New York-based, Italian artist and hacktivist, Paolo Cirio has always called attention to invasive information technology, pervasive power structures, and ‘bad actors’ within the system.

His works made street art out of NSA chiefs’ personal Facebook photos (Overexposed), set free 60,000 pay-walled articles (Daily Paywall), and took on the predatory online mugshot industry (Obscurity). 

Whatever the case, his work is fascinating. I’m sure you’ll find his project Sociality no less impressive and eye-opening. 

Cirio aggregates and sorts in Sociality’s website more than 20,000 technology and social media patents into a searchable database that reveals just how invasive our digital devices have become. 

This information is captured through patents - part of IP (intellectual property) rights. Scan below to find out why this is so important for all of us in society.

If you take a look at the exhibit, you can find patents with names like:

  • Social behavioral targeting based on influence in a social network

  • Providing targeted content based on a user’s moral values

  • Behavioral fingerprinting with social networking

  • Predicting the future state of a mobile device user

And tens of thousands of other alarming patents…

What’s great about Cirio’s Sociality is that users can easily browse, search, and rate patents by criteria like titles, images, and companies. There is also a “ban” option that lets users (via automated email) alert politicians, power players, and anyone else to the patent’s existence and its grave qualities.  

It’s a great tool to illuminate these opaque technologies and make patent techspeak much more easily digestible to the average person.

Apart from the Sociality website, the visual compositions are also printed in the form of flyers and a coloring book, with technologies that enable discrimination, polarization, addiction, deception, and surveillance.

Why am I telling you all of this?

On July 19th I’ll be at Baltan Labs, where there is currently a Sociality exhibition, to give a lecture at their Human Sociality program — one that builds on the theme of their current exhibition, revealing technology enabling social manipulation. 

The program consists of a lecture, two workshops, and a drawn-to session. 

I’ll be lecturing on “Who Owns Your Ideas?”, where I will address three main topics: patents, trademarks, and copyrights. My talk will include a gallery walk to look at the displayed patents on the walls and describe patent law using the patents on display. 

Why is this important? 

Because patents — as a form of IP rights — in this case, is a political and economic field that has become applied to the sociality of humans. Our sociality is now being owned and traded by private companies without public scrutiny.

Patents, as a form of IP rights, are a contract between us — society — and the creator of the innovation as mediated by the government. The contract gives the creator certain rights in exchange for sharing their ideas. For patents, the creator is the inventor. 

So, do we want to accept all categories of inventions? Does it matter what the effect is on society?

We’ll address these, and other, important and controversial questions during my lecture! Tickets are free but you must register because there is limited capacity.

I look forward to seeing you there!


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