Algorithmic Food Justice is a research project that focuses on two injustices in the global food system and tests how emerging decentralised coordination technologies might support positive transformation.
It is a 6-month project led by researchers at City University, London in partnership with DECAL Decentralised Arts Lab at Furtherfield, Spitalfields City Farm and the Gaia Foundation. The project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council “Not Equal Network”.
Firstly, unequal access to food. How can we create a sustainable “food commons”, where food production is managed for the benefit of all, including low income and ethnically diverse communities? Our project will explore this issue in partnership with urban agricultural communities, who already experiment with alternative models of labour and distribution within the fabric of our cities.
Secondly, we will address the injustices inflicted on other species by intensive human food production. To grow food successfully, humans require the help of other organisms – for example bees, or soil micro-organisms.
How might we use the features and affordances of blockchain technology to organise differently and to recognise and value the contributions of more-than-human participants, and therefore help avoid problems like soil degradation and bee extinction that threaten life on earth? How might this algorithmic “more-than-human value system” take shape in urban agricultural contexts?
This year, we will hold four workshops to collectively re-imagine a future food commons and operationalise different value systems by working with blockchain technologies. As we look into the future of urban farming, what will urban agricultural communities need in order to flourish, for the benefit of all? How can the interdependencies between humans, creatures and natural resources be better catered for?
Drawing on this collaborative and participatory work, we will develop speculative prototypes that float new arrangements of the food web and stimulate further discussion on how urban food futures might generatively reshape our increasingly algorithmic systems and environments.
Featured image: Credit to Sara Heitlinger and Lara Houston