Futures and Beyond :: Creativity and 4IR Conference 2022
The Futures and Beyond: Creativity and 4IR Conference aims to serve as an impetus for an Africa-centric discourse and knowledge development at the intersection of Creativity and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The specificities of industrialization on the African continent require unique approaches that respond to the context and needs of African societies. These approaches will define the future for the cultural and creative sectors while at the same time re-imagining a new future for Africa where humanity and technology meet.
“The seed of a revolution is often creativity. The Fourth Industrial Revolution harnesses creativity, innovation and these combined makes possible the unimaginable. Our imaginings of a socially just future can become a reality if we discover the right pathways,” notes the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala.
The aspect of humanity within these significant anticipated technological changes is a critical area where ethical design should be considered from a historical perspective to ensure that flawed and oppressive systems do not perpetuate the inequality and discrimination that is stifling development on the continent. A grasp of the three proceeding industrial revolutions known to modern society helps frame an understanding of 4IR. Historically, industrial revolutions have been stimulated by major technological changes, that inform the rate and types of production, which in turn informs systems of labor. These changes have economic repercussions such as greater prosperity for those who own the means of production and major shifts in the use and ownership of resources. Importantly, industrial revolutions have also had substantial social impacts, such as education, gender relations, urbanization, and rapid globalization.
Previous revolutions are well established in literature and their impact has been substantially studied. The development of the cultural and creative sectors is also entwined with changes in technology and creatives have always played a role, both in the development of new technologies as well as in their proliferation. 4IR is, however, still very much in conceptualization, and the range of terms that define it is still in debate. Even more in debate is the impact it is likely to have on all spheres of human life, as well as on the creative sector more specifically.
Ethics, Intellectual Property (IP) and Technology
Ethics is a major issue of contention within 4IR, particularly in relation to data security, platform management and cyber bullying. Security is an increasing issue that will only expand further as 4IR unfolds. At a more philosophical level, new technologies are beginning to raise questions that are rooted in our histories and societal ills. The training of machine learning based on profit orientation has already resulted in ‘unethical’ machines that have resorted to political and religious extremism in order to increase consumption on platforms. Face recognition technologies and even auto-assistants rely on flawed data that are often racist and sexist, resulting in algorithms that perpetuate the problem. The current trend of relatively low-cost development of innovative technologies with enthusiastic users and markets bodes well as a strong basis for an Intellectual Property (IP) orientation in the continent’s strategy towards 4IR.
Creative Industries, Innovation and Development
Many creatives and scholars believe that the creative and cultural sectors are well placed to be enablers of 4IR. These sectors hold the potential to ease the adoption of new technologies and provide practical ways in which these technologies could be applied and understood. In many respects, creative industries have pioneered the use of new technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D printing. The arts, unlike manufacturing and transportation, has a more nuanced relationship to 4IR. To some extent, 4IR is taking up some roles previously held by creatives. In another sense, creativity and the arts are arguably central fields for the development of 4IR and the skills and capacities to harness it.
To facilitate a robust endeavor, UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), will present a hybrid event and invites submission of abstracts for academic papers as well as proposals of practical industry case studies for presentation at the 2022 conference.
Considering the relationship between Creativity and 4IR as being in the process of development, UJ Arts & Culture in partnership with Andani.Africa embarked on a forum in March 2021 to establish a benchmark for South Africa, and Africa, as a point of reference. The forum’s findings document is available here.
Tickets are FREE
The final programme will be announced soon.