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YOU WILL: A Detour Into Dataism

August, 2018

Twenty five years ago, AT&T’s prescient 1993 ad campaign entitled ‘YOU WILL’ played a key part in launching the field of computational propaganda in cyberspace via the world’s first ‘pay per click’ advertising banner.

To mark the 25th Anniversary, Bill Posterslaunched YOU WILL: A Detour Into Dataism in August 2018 at the Artmossphere III Street Art Biennial held at Winzavod Contemporary Art Centre in Moscow, Russia. A quarter of a century after the original advertising campaign first appeared online; and in the context of multiple investigations into Russian state interference in western democratic processes; a site specific intervention outside the Kremlin in Moscow completed a new tryptych of works (print, intervention,  1 single channel video).

Outline:

In the city where you live, perhaps in the same office block where you may work, someone, somewhere is constantly trying to categorise you in ways that may not be true. Machines are learning how to constantly infer judgements about you; what you believe is important; and what you will do next as a result.

YOU WILL infers the effects of the latest developments in machine learning and behavioural sequencing by algorithms and AI originally developed for ‘pay per click’ advertising. YOU WILL interrogates how the development of computational propaganda technologies recently deployed during western elections & referendums in order to influence citizen’s decision making during key political moments offers new terrain for artistic exploration.

Location 1 – Kremlin, Red Square, Moscow.

The Kremlin is home to Russia’s extensive security and intelligence apparatus, which also includes the Foreign Intelligence Service, known as the SVR. The SVR is tasked with intelligence and espionage activities outside the Russian Federation and is a key component in the Russian interference in the recent US election and UK referendum in 2016. The Internet Research Agency, a Russian company based in Saint Petersburg has direct links to the Kremlin, engaging in online influence operations on behalf of Russian business and political interests.

Location 2

The second iteration of the project will occur in the UK during the completion of the Article 50 ‘Brexit’ process that oversees the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union in March 2019.

Learn more about the YOU WILL project here.

Photo credits: Martha Cooper, Vasily Kudryavtsev,