Algorithmic Food Justice
Project Info –
PI Sara Heitlinger, CO-I Alex Taylor
Funded by the Not Equal Network, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Partners – Furtherfield, Spitalfields City Farm and the Gaia Foundation
This project explored how blockchain-based algorithmic technologies might be used to create a fairer and more sustainable food system. How might we imagine a future food commons, where food can be managed more equitably and sustainably for the benefit of all? How might we instantiate a more-than-human value system that recognises the role of multi species communities?
In 2019 we held a series of four workshops with London-based urban agricultural communities and blockchain technologists. The first workshop mapped the resource flows in and out of the city farm. We used these findings to develop a Live Action Role Play game (LARP) with Furtherfield’s Ruth Catlow.
We imagined that in the year 2025, following a series of food shocks, London was in the process of becoming a self-sufficient city farm. We trialled multi species representation by asking each participant to speak as, or for a “companion species”. Everyone took up a role on the local, or London-wide assembly and we played with various scenarios that helped us to imagine systems of food growing and governance that dealt with membership, sharing protocols and equal opportunities for multiple species.
In the final two workshops we used scenarios from the LARP to challenge blockchain technologists and urban growers to design future algorithmic systems, with creative and critical outcomes.
We’re currently writing up a toolkit for others to use to develop their own LARP, plus a series of academic publications.