We are witnessing the greatest upheavals of modern times: Artificial Intelligence and Big Data are changing fundamentally what we took for granted.

My project Quantified Reality is the attempt to photographically document these epoch-defining developments: the data collection, the data processing, the relationships between data, and foremost: the societal consequences of data and its complete penetration of everyday life. The topic is urgent – data is the oil of the 21st century.

Today, our world becomes understandable to the logic machines. The tangible is turned into bits and bytes. Now, the world becomes countable – into a Quantified Reality.

Everyday, machine cognition improves. How will artificial intelligence be used? What will its societal consequences be like? Today, digitally created and stored data exceeds in volume all information and knowledge recorded by humanity through the millennia hitherto.

However, all this data collection has a very big white spot: the biosphere. Even in Europe, unknown new species are discovered regularly. There’s little information about bird and insect populations, except that they are dying in alarming numbers: since the 1980’s, half of all starlings and sparrows disappeared and the amount of insect biomass fell by 80 percent.

The topic may seem abstract. But as a medium of translation of complex information into visual messages, photography has the potential to articulate societal, political and economic trends into visually engaging and comprehensive images.

To tackle the complexity of the topic, I propose to photograph a series of self-contained, mono-thematical chapters on narrow, well-defined sub-aspects. They may be self-motivated or commissions.

There is urgency to document the societal consequences of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence as these technologies turn hegemonic, dividing societies into the data literate and illiterate. The Quantified Reality is inevitable.

The Quantified Reality is greedy; stock traders spend multi-millions on building direct micro-wave links between the large stock exchanges like Frankfurt and London or New York and Chicago. These private connections allow stock traders to ‘act in the future’ as information is received a fraction of a second earlier than through conventional fibre-based internet connections.

 Supervisor of an Ultra-Fast Electro-Magnetic Link between Frankfurt and London Stock Exchange. LOCATION CustomConnect Headquarters, Amsterdam, The Netherlands DESCRIPTION These private connections allow stock traders to ‘act in the future’ as they can receive information a fraction of a second earlier than competitors relying on conventional forms of communication.

Supervisor of an Ultra-Fast Electro-Magnetic Link between Frankfurt and London Stock Exchange.
LOCATION
CustomConnect Headquarters, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
DESCRIPTION
These private connections allow stock traders to ‘act in the future’ as they can receive information a fraction of a second earlier than competitors relying on conventional forms of communication.

 Automated High-Frequency Stock Trading Desk LOCATION Webb Traders Trading Floor, Amsterdam, The Netherlands DESCRIPTION In 2018, automated and quantified trading forms account for about 90 percent of volume in the public equities markets.

Automated High-Frequency Stock Trading Desk
LOCATION
Webb Traders Trading Floor, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
DESCRIPTION
In 2018, automated and quantified trading forms account for about 90 percent of volume in the public equities markets.

 Automated High-Frequency Stock Trading Desk LOCATION Webb Traders Trading Floor, Amsterdam, The Netherlands DESCRIPTION An automated trading system is a computer algorithm that autonomously trades on a (stock) exchange or market centre.

Automated High-Frequency Stock Trading Desk
LOCATION
Webb Traders Trading Floor, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
DESCRIPTION
An automated trading system is a computer algorithm that autonomously trades on a (stock) exchange or market centre.

 Automated High-Frequency Stock Trading Desk LOCATION Webb Traders Trading Floor, Amsterdam, The Netherlands DESCRIPTION Automated trading systems operate at speeds greatly exceeding human abilities, often in ultra high frequencies in the millisecond range. Traders hence only supervise systems but rarely intervene.

Automated High-Frequency Stock Trading Desk
LOCATION
Webb Traders Trading Floor, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
DESCRIPTION
Automated trading systems operate at speeds greatly exceeding human abilities, often in ultra high frequencies in the millisecond range. Traders hence only supervise systems but rarely intervene.

The Quantified Reality triggered a world wide gold fever. Young, talented entrepreneurs are setting up 'boutique' AI and data analytics companies in the hope of rising big with Big Data. Bangalore, India, has long been famous for being the world's IT service provider. It's a huge sector, providing 40 percent of India's GDP, and it is dominated by few multi-billion companies. But as the outsourcing industry shifts from software development to Big Data, from migrating work already being done elsewhere to solving problems for which no specifications exists, the composition of the sector changes: suddenly, the small start ups and hundreds of data boutiques have an edge to the big players. The gold fever of Bangalore's start-up scene is contagious.

The Quantified Reality is built upon an ever-increasing number of data centres, computers, and various electronic devices. As the raw materials needed to produce them are scarce and expensive, resourcing relies on a vicious system of armed conflict, forced labour, and systematic rape. Is recycling and urban mining a solution to end the proliferation of conflict minerals?

 Irregular 'Conflict Mineral' Mine LOCATION Walungu, Democratic Republic of Congo DESCRIPTION Tungsten, Tantalum, Tin, and Gold (3TG) are central for the production of electronics and are abundantly found in the eastern DRC. 3TGs greatly fund the Congo Wars, with a death toll of around 5 million, the deadliest Conflict since WWII.

Irregular 'Conflict Mineral' Mine
LOCATION
Walungu, Democratic Republic of Congo
DESCRIPTION
Tungsten, Tantalum, Tin, and Gold (3TG) are central for the production of electronics and are abundantly found in the eastern DRC. 3TGs greatly fund the Congo Wars, with a death toll of around 5 million, the deadliest Conflict since WWII.

 FARDC Fighter LOCATION Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo DESCRIPTION Various militias regularly employ slavery, systematic rape, and forced cannibalism as weapons in irregular mines. Regular FARDC fighters are trained by the Archdiocese of Bukavu to counter these severe human rights violations.

FARDC Fighter
LOCATION
Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo
DESCRIPTION
Various militias regularly employ slavery, systematic rape, and forced cannibalism as weapons in irregular mines. Regular FARDC fighters are trained by the Archdiocese of Bukavu to counter these severe human rights violations.

 Smuggling of 'Conflict Minerals' LOCATION Nzibira, Democratic Republic of Congo DESCRIPTION To prove 'conflict freeness', 3TG ore is tagged in certified mines. However, minerals are heavily smuggled from irregular mines to certified ones where they are re-bagged and tagged.

Smuggling of 'Conflict Minerals'
LOCATION
Nzibira, Democratic Republic of Congo
DESCRIPTION
To prove 'conflict freeness', 3TG ore is tagged in certified mines. However, minerals are heavily smuggled from irregular mines to certified ones where they are re-bagged and tagged.

 Urban Mine LOCATION SIMS Recycling, Eindhoven, The Netherlands DESCRIPTION The recycling of electronics waste, also called 'urban mining', is a promising alternative to conflict minerals. For example, about 40 cell phones contain the same amount of gold as one ton of gold ore.

Urban Mine
LOCATION
SIMS Recycling, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
DESCRIPTION
The recycling of electronics waste, also called 'urban mining', is a promising alternative to conflict minerals. For example, about 40 cell phones contain the same amount of gold as one ton of gold ore.

The Quantified Reality is perfect surveillance. It allows an Orwellian dystopia as executed by the NSA's and GCHQ's eavesdropping programmes and the prediction of yet-to-commit crimes by PREDPOL or CAS algorithms.

 Data Center Control Room LOCATION Magdeburg, Germany Operation engineers oversee the operation of several large data centers for unusual activities, hacking attempts, network failure, and technical faults.

Data Center Control Room
LOCATION
Magdeburg, Germany
Operation engineers oversee the operation of several large data centers for unusual activities, hacking attempts, network failure, and technical faults.

 Dick Willems LOCATION "Unicorn" Police Station, Amsterdam, The Netherlands DESCRIPTION Dick Willems is mastermind and programmer of the CAS police software which predicts future crimes and 2015 laureate of the Big Brother Awards.

Dick Willems
LOCATION
"Unicorn" Police Station, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
DESCRIPTION
Dick Willems is mastermind and programmer of the CAS police software which predicts future crimes and 2015 laureate of the Big Brother Awards.

 Leaking Fibre Cable LOCATION Data Center Biere I, Germany, DESCRIPTION This fibre cable connects a data center to the internet and its 18km distant twin for added high data security

Leaking Fibre Cable
LOCATION
Data Center Biere I, Germany,
DESCRIPTION
This fibre cable connects a data center to the internet and its 18km distant twin for added high data security

 Data Center Construction LOCATION Data Center Biere I, Biere, Germany DESCRIPTION With the Snowden leaks in June 2013, data center operators all over mainland Europe rushed the construction of new data centers, promising higher security against espionage.

Data Center Construction
LOCATION
Data Center Biere I, Biere, Germany
DESCRIPTION
With the Snowden leaks in June 2013, data center operators all over mainland Europe rushed the construction of new data centers, promising higher security against espionage.

The Quantified Reality is struggling to gather information about the accelerating climate change and the suffering biosphere. Even as climate change needs to be slowed urgently and the mass extinction of species needs to be stopped, data about the well-being of birds and insects are gathered by hobbyists and volunteers. Everyday species go extinct. At the same time, humans create a new species: that of artificially intelligent machines. Will drones and robots replace the role of wildlife?

 Bird Counting LOCATION Noordwijk, The Netherlands DESCRIPTION Despite their importance, most data about the birds and insects, about the biodiversity, is collected by unpaid volunteers.

Bird Counting
LOCATION
Noordwijk, The Netherlands
DESCRIPTION
Despite their importance, most data about the birds and insects, about the biodiversity, is collected by unpaid volunteers.

 Urban Bird Sanctuary LOCATION Hamburg, Germany DESCRIPTION Contra-intuitively, biodiversity is higher in cities than in the country side. Two thirds of all breeding birds that appear in Germany are observable in large cities; for birds, they resemble a rocky landscape with plenty of shelter and food supply.

Urban Bird Sanctuary
LOCATION
Hamburg, Germany
DESCRIPTION
Contra-intuitively, biodiversity is higher in cities than in the country side. Two thirds of all breeding birds that appear in Germany are observable in large cities; for birds, they resemble a rocky landscape with plenty of shelter and food supply.

 Historic and Contemporary Bumblebee Collection LOCATION Entomological Association Krefeld, Germany DESCRIPTION The decline in insect biomass and diversity in recent years is dramatic. Causes and consequences are largely unknown.

Historic and Contemporary Bumblebee Collection
LOCATION
Entomological Association Krefeld, Germany
DESCRIPTION
The decline in insect biomass and diversity in recent years is dramatic. Causes and consequences are largely unknown.

 Ringing of a long-tailed bushtit - Ring V2003400  LOCATION Hamburg, Germany DESCRIPTION Tiny numbered rings, attached to the legs of the birds, help in keeping track of the movements of the bird and its life history. Only by ringing and tracking birds there is a chance to learn about well-being and environmental hazards for individual bird populations.

Ringing of a long-tailed bushtit - Ring V2003400
LOCATION
Hamburg, Germany
DESCRIPTION
Tiny numbered rings, attached to the legs of the birds, help in keeping track of the movements of the bird and its life history. Only by ringing and tracking birds there is a chance to learn about well-being and environmental hazards for individual bird populations.

The Quantified Reality makes ignorance unfeasible. For decades, India has been suffering a tuberculosis endemic. But as the only test available – detecting the bacteria with a microscope – is century-old and slow, official numbers remained low. Recently introduced, internationally funded fully automatized gene test machines turned the nationwide gut feeling into facts, making the crisis impossible to ignore.

 Door-to-Door Tuberculosis Screening LOCATION TB Colony, Mumbai, India DESCRIPTION India witnesses the world largest tuberculosis epidemic with about 2.2 million cases in 2011. Traditionally, NGOs screen overcrowded slums by asking residents for symptoms.

Door-to-Door Tuberculosis Screening
LOCATION
TB Colony, Mumbai, India
DESCRIPTION
India witnesses the world largest tuberculosis epidemic with about 2.2 million cases in 2011. Traditionally, NGOs screen overcrowded slums by asking residents for symptoms.

 GeneXpert Tuberculosis LOCATION Dharavi Slum, Mumbai, India DESCRIPTION The GeneXpert tuberculosis testing is highly-accurate, users require minimal training, and results are available to health workers within two hours. Since the introduction of GeneXpert testing machines, official tuberculosis numbers in India exploded.

GeneXpert Tuberculosis
LOCATION
Dharavi Slum, Mumbai, India
DESCRIPTION
The GeneXpert tuberculosis testing is highly-accurate, users require minimal training, and results are available to health workers within two hours. Since the introduction of GeneXpert testing machines, official tuberculosis numbers in India exploded.

 Gendi Asho Molpuria LOCATION Mumbai, India DESCRIPTION Gendi Asho Molpuria was tested tuberculosis positive and is currently receiving medication. In her neighbourhood, 64 are currently treated for TB, 13 of which are infected with resistant or multi-resistant strains.

Gendi Asho Molpuria
LOCATION
Mumbai, India
DESCRIPTION
Gendi Asho Molpuria was tested tuberculosis positive and is currently receiving medication. In her neighbourhood, 64 are currently treated for TB, 13 of which are infected with resistant or multi-resistant strains.

 Tuberculosis Sample LOCATION Mumbai, India DESCRIPTION Until recently, the only technique available to most laboratories in developing countries is over a century-old and involves detecting the bacteria using a microscope.

Tuberculosis Sample
LOCATION
Mumbai, India
DESCRIPTION
Until recently, the only technique available to most laboratories in developing countries is over a century-old and involves detecting the bacteria using a microscope.

Today, we live at the front-line between the analogue past and the digital future. It is my task to document the change: what is and what will be. I photograph bird count programs, the control rooms of stock trading companies, the pioneers of internet and AI technology, the masterminds of predictive policing software, hacker conventions, sub marine fibre cables, network operation centres. Thermal images and LiDAR point clouds will extend on conventional photography.