From the Director’s Desk: Branding Kairoi
15th February 2023, by Ismael Kherroubi Garcia
Kairoi’s logo and name with positioning guidelines
Blog posts From the Director’s Desk are more personal musings on my journey as the founder of Kairoi. In these posts, I will provide a less formal perspective on some of the background work going on at Kairoi. In this, the first From the Director’s Desk, I discuss the very journey I undertook to decide upon Kairoi‘s name, colour palette and logo. Importantly, Dan White from Brandiful deserves to be named at the very start, as it was his services I contracted to guide me through the process of visualising the values that underpin Kairoi.
Kairoi (pronounced /kye-roy/) is the plural of the Ancient Greek word for “opportune time”, kairos. It is about taking advantage of moments when decisions are critical. For me, Kairoi captures two important ideas pertaining to AI ethics and research governance. Firstly, the timeliness of interventions — be it in regards to communications, technical solutions, public engagement, governance — is key to their effectiveness. Being able to map decisions throughout projects helps inform improvements for future research and development.
Secondly, we are at an inflection point as a society. We are more aware than ever about social justice issues thanks to the internet, that the pace at which we seek to grow as a species is environmentally unsustainable, and that our technology is advancing faster than ever before. The current shifts in narratives about these social questions — towards more respectful and sustainable practices — show that we are at the cusp of guiding society towards a kinder tomorrow. But only if we seize this moment and make the decisions that count.
Time is a key component of my conception of AI ethics and research governance. And this is what we first see in the logo: an hourglass. Time is measured by the sand flowing from the upper half to the bottom. But this flowing — natural, enabled by gravity alone — is intervened on. The shape on the right signifies the identification of, and action on, those opportune moments. Whilst the shape changes and improves chains of events, it reflects the natural forms in the hourglass. Interventions are relevant, feasible and impactful.
Impact shows in the change in colour: added to the blue above, the red intervention on the right results in the purple below. These colours are intended to convey the following:
- Blue: credibility and confidence; but also the status quo that needs to be challenged.
- Red: the ambition to shape the moral fibre of the future of technology, the passion with which change must be driven, and the difficulty faced when challenging the powers that be.
- Purple: inclusion; a richer and more nuanced understanding of the world.
There is a final element to the logo. The gradients capture the waves of events and their consequences rippling throughout time, intertwining through complex social phenomena. This was an important idea I wanted to see in the logo. Through my project An Incomplete History of Research Ethics, I came to appreciate the unpredictable ways in which diverse cultures meet and influence one another throughout the ages. This element is important to me and, though it may not be the most obvious, it holds well when the logo is in monochrome.
Finally, a note on the font and name’s colour. “Kairoi” is written in Avenir black, in a tone of red from the “intervention piece” of the logo. The red is selected for accessibility purposes: it has sufficient contrast to white for text to be legible on white backgrounds. Meanwhile, Avenir black appears as bold and serious. It contrasts strongly with the playful and creative logo. And this contrast is also important to me.
There are many ways we can develop AI tools, and a great diversity of interventions we can co-design to conduct AI research responsibly. It is a thriving area for businesses, policymakers and academia to explore. But it is not all colourful, curvy, pleasant abstractions. The work of AI ethics needs to be grounded in reality and aimed at producing real change. It is a field where critical analysis of social structures meets with the practicalities of developing technologies that impact our social world.
Kairoi is an ambitious project that results from my years of experience across multiple countries and sectors. Kairoi is the result of my passion for thoughtful tech practices and robust research governance. It is crucial that we ensure that AI systems and research are guided by the reflexivity and care due for such impactful innovations. I am extremely proud of the complexity captured by the logo, and I am grateful for the thoughtful work Dan White from Brandiful put into this project.
PS: There’s another element in the logo: Can you see how it reflects part of the text on the right?