Issue 87: Ukraine War, Artificial Intelligence Art

Posted on 3 minute read

We are one week into Russia’s war against Ukraine. From here in America, it is hard to understand the reality of a country whose citizens seemed to be going about normal lives just a short time ago. I find it also hard to know what to say to people whose misery comes about on the whims of a dictator guided by…what? A misguided notion of history? A deep-seated desire to return to former glory? A vain attempt to show how big his manhood is?

Who can tell? Beyond asking my elected officials to do something and tweeting expressions of support, I’m feeling powerless to change what is happening. I hope and pray for a return to sanity, for grace and mercy for those in conflict, and for a world that strives to find a greater, common good.

The threads this week:

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One Library-related Corner of the Ukraine War

Screen capture a tweet from Nick Poole saying: 'Bloody hell. Looking at a message from the Ukraine Library Association concerning the cancellation of their forthcoming conference. it basically says "We will reschedule just as soon as we have finished vanquishing our invaders". Ukrainian Librarians, I salute you'
Nicholas Poole tweet
Dear colleagues, The sneaky, cruel and bloody aggression of the Russian Federation has prevented us from implementing our plans and holding March 1-4 XII International Scientific Conference "Modern Library-Information Continuous Education: what, how, for whom? ". 65 participants registered at the conference, re-calculated the registration fee of 35 members of the VGO Ukrainian Library Association total amount of 10 500 UAH. The Organizing Committee of the Conference has decided to hold the Conference after our confident victory, and the contributions collected to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine. We promise to provide complete and quality service to all participants in the peaceful time. Glory to Ukraine! For questions, please contact the Executive Office of the Association by email.
— Facebook-supplied translation of the announcement of the postponing of a library conference by the Ukrainian Library Association, 28-Feb-2022

Nicholas Poole, CEO of CILIP in the UK, has a poetic take on this announcement from the Ukraine Library Association. Facebook’s automated translation from Ukrainian to English (quoted above) sounds a little dry; I’m left wondering how this reads in the original Ukrainian.

Archiving the Ukrainian Web

[Ian Milligan, associate professor of history at the University of Waterloo,] points out that in 50 years, historians will not only be curious about how people got their information and how it shaped their worldviews but also what kind of information archivists saved about this conflict.
Ukrainian Websites Are Going Dark. Archivists Are Trying To Save Them , Motherboard on Vice, 25-Feb-2022

In comparison with previous wars, this Russia’s war with Ukraine will have a lot of primary sources. In the near term, people need to figure out what is real and what is manipulated. For our future selves, though, historians will need the video, photographs, and texts of the people in this war and those that are touched by it. I’m grateful for the people whose first instinct is to save-the-now so that source material is available.

Screen capture of the lower left corner of the artwork and the credit line from the Verge article
Credit line in The Verge article.
The US Copyright Office has rejected a request to let an AI copyright a work of art. Last week, a three-person board reviewed a 2019 ruling against Steven Thaler, who tried to copyright a picture on behalf of an algorithm he dubbed Creativity Machine. The board found that Thaler's AI-created image didn't include an element of “human authorship” — a necessary standard, it said, for protection.
The US Copyright Office says an AI can’t copyright its art , The Verge, 21-Feb-2022

It looks pretty—greens and purples, a bed of rails curving into the distance. To my eye, it looks like art—it is something I would hang on a wall (or make into a video screen background). But the copyright office has ruled that it cannot be registered as a copyrighted work. In its ruling , the Review Board of the U.S. Copyright Office affirms practices manual for the Copyright Office: that copyright registration “has long mandated human authorship”.

This Week’s Cat

Photograph of a black cat curled into a ball sleeping on a chair in the sun.

Sleep tight, dear Mittens.

Sleep tight.