The Computer is your /redacted/

microphone © Unsplash

Sat, 07/31/2021 -
Tue, 08/31/2021


A speculative podcast game

Presented by UKAI & the Goethe-Institut Toronto
as part of the Goethe-Institut Toronto‘s Algorithmic Culture project
What happens when business leaders, artists, ethicists, philosophers, and community builders come together to explore artificial intelligence through a role-playing game that embodies our collective anxieties about an automated future?
Three podcast episodes will follow four players -- each engaged deeply in ideas around technology, culture, and sense-making -- thrust into a dystopian future city controlled by a ridiculous and quickly deteriorating construct called The Computer (or 'Friend Computer').
Players will play and comment on Paranoia, a science-fiction tabletop role-playing game first published in 1984 by West End Games. The game won the Origins Award for Best Roleplaying Rules of 1984. Paranoia explores possible futures through dystopian narratives matched by a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek tone. Things are guaranteed to get weird.
This podcast/radio play accompanies the Goethe-Institut Toronto’s Algorithmic Culture programming, a multi-year exploration of how AI is shaping culture. Rather than fearing machines that surpass human intelligence, we are seeking to explore how human beings are being asked to act more like machines.
Role playing games can be understood as both play and performance. We believe that activities such as role playing are inherently anti-algorithmic, improvisational, instantiated, and empathetic responses to the hegemony of algorithmic culture and can create more visceral and “felt” insights and perspectives.

The Players

Ian Garrett is a designer, producer, educator, and researcher in the field of sustainability in arts and culture. He is the director of the Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, Toronto; Associate Professor of Ecological Design for Performance at York University; and Producer for Toasterlab, a mixed reality performance collective. He maintains a design practice focused on ecology, technology, and scenography. 
Yasmeen Nematt Alla (she/her) is a visual artist and art worker living in Tkaronto, Ontario. Her practice approaches alienated narratives from an interpreter’s perspective; examining how the translation of language, experiences, and visuals intertwine with care, grief, and community building. She has most recently exhibited at the Gladstone, Xpace Cultural Center, and ACRE Projects and is currently a resident in the CreateSpace STEPs Residency. 
Catherine Stinson (she/they) is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Computing at Queen’s University. They research how AI works, how it fails to work, and the implications for society. She used to be a programmer and semi-professional crafter, and is hatching plans to make a robotic web to keep squirrels out of her garden.
Martin Ryan is an innovation- and human-centered design executive with 15+ years of cross-sector and cross-domain experience. His perspective and approach integrates the fields of human-centered design, ethnographic research, social science, systems thinking, business strategy, and foresight. He most recently served as the Global Head of Service and Solution Design for Element AI and is now focused on reimaging the future of work at ServiceNow.


Max Cotter and Aleda DeRoche are the team behind Brainchild Podcasts. Both Toronto-based audio engineers, they have recorded, mixed, and amplified artists across disciplines. Max researches, teaches, speaks, and writes about sound and education. Aleda works in the performing arts and provides production support for international touring musicians. They decided to start making podcasts together while at a Bernie Sanders rally in New Orleans.
Jess Forrest is a Canadian electronic composer specializing in retro-futuristic cosmic exotica. Her solo works can be found under the moniker Castle If.
Jessica Gurd 
is a Canadian voice actress and audiobook narrator with a penchant for all things sci-fi. She is best known for her work on the bestselling Delphi In Space series.
The podcast will be available here soon and on various standard podcast platforms.