Daniel Howe: Critical Software

Software Art, Machine Learning & AI
Advertising Positions, 2017 Interactive Animations / Installation

Daniel Howe is an artist who creates bespoke software in order to explore the social and political implications of computation. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from NYU's Courant Institute and an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University. Before joining the faculty at the School of Creative Media, he was the NSF Computing Innovations Fellow and Visiting Professor at Brown University, and taught in the Rhode Island School of Design's Digital+Media graduate program.

Through his creative practice Howe explores the nature of algorithms and their impacts on human values like diversity, privacy and freedom. Instead of writing software with the traditional goals of increasing efficiency or productivity, he uses code as a means to critically interrogate the distribution of power and resources in society and to imagine alternatives trajectories for technology, ones that better respect humans and the other species with whom we share this planet. As such, he has been an open-source advocate and contributor to dozens of socially-engaged software projects over the past two decades. His outputs include software interventions (AdNauseam, TrackMeNot, ChinaEye, AdLiPo), art installations (“The Readers Project,” “The Architecture of Association,” “Atomic Language Machines,”) algorithmically-generated text and sound (“How It Is in Common Tongues,” “Minor Distance”) and computational tools for artists (RiTa, Dialogic, Tweeter).

Howe’s recent “Spectre” project received the 2019 Alternate Realities Commission Award from the Art Council of England. Spectre uses artificial intelligence and deep-learning technologies in an interactive installation that explores the digital influence industry, from micro-targeted advertising, to behavioural psychology, to fake news and election manipulation.  This work, developed with UK artist, Bill Posters, debuted at the Sheffield DocFest and was scheduled to tour North America prior to the Coronavirus. Spectre was shortlisted for both the “Aesthetica Art Prize” and the “Digital Dozen Breakthroughs in Storytelling Awards” and is the first AI-based artwork to be included in the British Film Archive.