Cuba: Homeland is Humanity

By Rosa Miriam Elizalde on April 1, 2024

photo: Abel Padron Padilla

Artificial intelligence is neither intelligent nor artificial. The booming technology of machine learning produces forms of knowledge unheard of in human history, but it is not based on artifice or on the intelligence of robots, but on the work of specific human beings: artists, musicians, programmers, writers, designers, audiovisual producers…, whose creative and professional work is appropriated by a handful of companies. The artifacts have no motivations of their own, they only follow the motivations of those who program them.

We talked about it in Havana, at the recently concluded third Patria International Colloquium, a project that began in 2022 with less than a score of experts in digital political communication, gathered last week hundreds of representatives from 31 countries to discuss two major issues with unequal attention: Updating the debate on a New International Information and Communication Order (Nomic) – known as the McBride Report, which was pushed by Unesco in the 1980s – and taking the left and artificial intelligence (AI), which is chattered about all the time, with a pinch of salt.

What was originally designed to broaden the range of freedom and expression of peoples, with its slogan “one world, many voices”, the Nomic has been buried by political interests and pressures, especially from the great powers and their supranational companies, aware of the power that can be exercised both by providing floods of information in one direction and by hiding it. Added to this is the unlimited value of the data extracted from billions of citizens, the “greatest theft in the history of humanity with the generalized plundering of public space”, as defined by the Ecuadorian René Ramírez Gallegos.

The international colloquium Patria, named after the newspaper founded by José Martí in 1892, called for the renewal of conceptions and tools for political thought and practice, at a time in humanity when computational mediations generate distortions and cognitive biases that have been little explored, particularly from the left. It is no coincidence that experts and political leaders arrived in Havana, convened in record time, trying to answer the same questions: Is the challenge ahead of us science fiction machines that can conquer the world? Or is the risk in the way of distributing and annotating data on the basis of which social, political, technological and communicative projects?

The explosive mixture of single thinking – the opposite of the spirit of the McBride Report – with digital networks and ultra-conservative political movements that we are experiencing is, however, contingent, typical of a specific time of technical evolution and political traditions. Patria vehemently defended the need to incorporate reflections and strategies appropriate to this historical moment in which not one but many possible futures can be glimpsed. The final declaration of the colloquium expressed that “one of the necessary conditions to advance along this path is to abandon the instrumental view of current computational technologies, and to understand them on the contrary as constitutive of the political space itself, disruptive yes, but full of emancipatory possibilities”.

In one of the spaces where dozens of successful communicative experiences of four contenders were presented, Argentine researcher Pablo Manolo Rodríguez proposed embracing “social crowdsourcing”, whose simple definition is the possibility of delegating to the talent of the multitude what is usually done by a specialized and professional group. When we stop seeing ourselves only as individuals, we can recognize ourselves as different sets that build for everyone.

Sharing, disseminating and participating need not be the formula for making money on the Internet, but the common code that would give meaning to José Martí’s phrase at the center of the Havana colloquium: “Homeland is humanity”.

Source: La Jornada, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English