In Algorithms We Trust

On July 5th 15:30 American activist Chelsea Manning will give an exclusive talk about AI ethics and activism at Roskilde Festival, Gloria Stage.

I invite you to participate in the debate, by submitting a question for Chelsea Manning to answer during her talk on stage. But before being allowed to submit your question, I will ask you to give me information about yourself.

I will use the information to assess you and your credibility by comparing your answers to my assessment of you, which is derived from an analysis of your portrait picture. To do so, I will need your permission to use your camera.

No humans will be involved in this evaluation process. You will only have a chance to get your question read aloud by the moderator, if you get a high credibility score.

Yours truly, the algorithm.


    Software algorithms are all around us, increasingly controlling aspects of our lives by making decisions independent of human interference. Since they are based on training data or abstract rules rather than feelings and needs, algorithms are often regarded to be more trustworthy and objective compared to human beings.

    The art piece “In algorithms we trust” invites guests of Roskilde Festival to reflect upon the role of software algorithms while also providing an opportunity to pose a question to Chelsea Manning.

    Guests are asked to answer a series of questions about themselves and subsequently upload their portrait photo before they can be allowed to pose a question to Chelsea Manning. In the background an algorithm is silently judging the credibility of each guest by comparing their answers to data deduced from the person’s uploaded portrait photo via a machine learning model that is able to estimate the age, gender, mood, and visual appearance of each guest based on a single photo. The algorithm accepts the model’s estimates as true and views guests as credible only to the extent that their testimonies about themselves correlate with the estimates of the model.

    In the end, a handful of the guests considered to be the most credible by the algorithm will be allowed to pose a question for Chelsea Manning during her talk at Gloria Stage, Thursday 5th of July 15:30 CET.