F'13 Studio: Jaime (Ting Yan) Kwan

505a Graduate Design Studio: Liam Young

"Greetings" from the Bots

By Jaime (Ting Yan) Kwan

In 2013, only 39% of internet traffic was generated by human beings, the other 61% was taken up by botnets with 29% of botnet activity being malicious. Botnets are designed for specific purposes, each having a name, creation date, date of elimination, similiar to human beings and our personal data.

Our lives coexist with the world of botnets. Our everyday actions and activites respond to the operations of protocols. Our experiences and emotions are monitored by autonomous systems embedded in the digital technology we activate. 

Zooming in, the cities we inhabit are populated with autonomous systems, written to monitor our actions and operated to influence the pace of our routines. 

  • Traffic signals operated by the Scada System, transmitting real time data to a traffic control center, coordinating a synchronized relationship between pedestrians and vehicles.

  • The response of a powertrain control module in relation to the flow of traffic in the city.

  • A complex network of subway systems beneath the concrete jungle that forms the urban landscape above, operated by communication-based train protocols.

  • Network protocols connecting the everyday civilian with cellular service, allowing communication to the outside world.

  • Digital billboards and news broadcasts lighting up the city streets from dawn till dusk, managed by advertising algorithms that process video data to the correct format and size.

If we acknowledge these systems as a fundamental part of our experience of cities, then how do we relate to them? What other types of algorithms exist in the world? Are there algorithms processed for happiness, love, pleasure, and play?

How will the revelation of these ubiquitous systems alter humanity? Can we develop a healthy relationship with the world of botnets? Or will we ignore their presence and abandon everyday routines in hopes of escaping from the control of autonomous systems?