To me this algorithm raises more potential questions than answers. On the editorial side concerns are obvious and need little explanation - a genuine, authentic image can be powerful beyond words, but in today’s ‘fake news’ era, a trusted image from a credible source is paramount. On the creative side of the fence, we have found that authenticity is the single most powerful factor in what deems an image as successful. We started seeing this trend of authenticity emerging around 10 years ago, but five years ago we saw it develop into what we now refer to as ‘the glitch aesthetic.’ Glitch is where photographers are actively seeking out deliberate and planned errors, things like lens flare, overexposure, out of focus shots – components that were originally considered flaws and what Xiaomi’s algorithm aims to eliminate altogether. These are the images our customers – the world’s most prominent brands – are purchasing. Why? Because these compelling accidents and serendipitous mistakes hold humanity and humanity is to be trusted. To make errors is to be human and with that brings an honesty and authenticity to the visual landscape. In our increasingly curated world, there is a pull toward an aesthetic that feels messy and unexpected – the idea of Xiaomi using AI to edit and amend these beautifully imperfect quirks has me feeling rather sad.
Men are most certainly from Mars, but sadly the same can’t be said for women and Venus. Women make up just 15% of NASA’s planet mission teams, despite at least a quarter of planetary scientists being women. What this demonstrates is clear bias - however unconscious. NASA has vowed publicly to change this, but there’s gradual change and then there’s glacial, which seems to be the case here. Since 1975, there have been no improvements to the number of women being sent into space, despite the fact there have been 26 additional missions since that time. This vast discrepancy is even more apparent for ethnic minorities. The Black and Hispanic communities for example make up 13 and 16 per cent of the US population respectively, but these groups make up just one per cent of the nation’s planetary scientists. These figures are so disparate they’re more Martian than the very atmosphere NASA is attempting to explore through the InSight mission. A mission which, if you ask me, is rather ironically titled, given they seemingly lack exactly that when it comes to addressing this discernible problem. To be clear, this achievement is to be applauded by all and my commentary today doesn’t take away from this magnificent scientific accomplishment. It does however aim to raise pertinent questions. Put simply, the successful landing of InSight might be one small step for man, but a diverse and inclusive space programme would be one hell of a leap for mankind.
I admire the innovation of Snap – to me, they are a true pioneer in the social media and technology space, but I’m not quite convinced on their chosen description as a camera company. Their mission of contributing to human progression, empowering people to express themselves and have fun is certainly being fulfilled, but to me, the description of camera provider feels like a mismatch. Snap are releasing 25,000 Spectacle 3.0 units, yet have 186 million people using their platform each day to power stories - they’re capturing those stories with their phones and tablets, not aluminium-based eyewear, however premium they may be. Call me old school, but I’ll stick to my Ray Bans – however much I admire their ambitious vision and commitment to innovation.