With its Timeline project, premiered in Berlin as part of transmediale festival, the Vienna based Technopolitics Working Group set forth the task of analyzing and visualizing the current paradigm and emergence of Information Society. The panel New Paradigms discusses the changing role and place of humanity in a world shaped by rapid progress in areas such as AI, machine learning, robotics, algorithmic trading, and Biocomputing. By examining the past, the group looks for ways to overcome the structural crisis of Information Society today, questioning: Which historical tendencies might gain added significance in the immediate future? How can we avoid conceiving of paradigm change as just another economic expansion? In which ways can artistic practice meaningfully intervene and point towards a new political ecology?
Listen to the Audio of the panel discussion.. Speakers: Gabriele Gramelsberger, Gerald Nestler, Felix Stalder, Jutta Weber
This is my talk at the Unboxing: Algorithms, Data and Democracy. It starts in German but the talk itself is in Englisch.
If you prefer to read, here is the manuscript of the talk.
Algorithms we need
Initially, I wrote this talk in German, but decided in the last minute to give it in English. However, I hate to translate my own texts. So the English you hear now is 85% machine translation and 15% corrections by me. Perhaps you can tell which is which. The accent is 100% me. Or should I say, Canadian English filtered through Swiss German? It's hard to draw boundaries, these days.
Anyway, let me start with three assumptions. First, we need algorithms as part of an infrastructure that allows social complexity and dynamics to meet our real challenges. Second, many of the algorithms are made poorly. I think, in particular, of those that shape day-to-day social practices, algorithms that do what sociologists call "social sorting" (David Lyon) or "automatic discrimination" (Oscar H. Gandy). However, this will be the third point, these issues of poor design are only part of the problem because there is no autonomous technology, even if it is called "intelligent" or "self-learning".
We need algorithms
When I talk about algorithms, I do not mean isolated computer code, but socio-technical systems and institutional processes that automate parts of decision-making.
This is a bit of an experimental format. The audio of the talk delivered last October is set to the slides. Since the slides are quite visual and should produce another layer of meaning, I hope this is more interesting than simply the audio. Let me know, what you think. More information on the conference (re)constructing authorship" at Akademie Schloss Solitude.
This lecture is from October 2014, held at the Public Library Conference in Stuttgart. But it has only recently been put online, together with all other lectures.. I think the entire conference is still very relevant.
In this lecture, I try to untangle the differences between resources that are managed as "public" and are thus connected to notions of the state and citizens and those that are managed as "free" and are thus based on notions of the commons and community. The differences are subtle, but in their consequences far reaching.
The presentation at the conference Data Traces was in German, hence also the slides. Below is unedited live written english translation created by Felix Gerloff. It's a impressive on-the-spot summary, but don't parse words.
Felix Stalder: "Politics of Data – Between Post-Democracy and Commons"
– culture as "trade floor" of meaning / interpretation
– topic: how the structure of theses processes of debating meaning in culture changed
– significant change today: big data sets instead of small data
– the quantitative change quickly becomes a qualitative change, because it needs different approaches to deal with big data
SLOW POLITICS investigated perspectives for a precarious generation that is deeply concerned about its rights, liberties and privileges: How can a communal feeling arise in Europe if national self-interests prevail? How can we practice transparency if secret services are booming beyond public control? How can our mobile societies restore inner peace if migrants are always "the others"? How can we save the environment if consumerism and economics remain rampant?
What happens to free access to culture and knowledge if public institutions continue crumbling? On its third day of Public Talks SLOW POLITICS dealt with these future concerns in five panels and explored the common denominator linking all these issues.
"Nicht der Algorithmus ist pervers, sondern die Situation in der er lebt."
Die Technowissenschaften haben ein Niveau erreicht, das es ihnen ermöglicht, Natur nicht nur zu erforschen oder zu verstehen, sondern aktiv zu gestalten. Der Salon Technopolitics stellt sich die Aufgabe, die Black Box des Fortschritts zu öffnen. Lassen sich aus der Analyse der Gegenwart die zukünftigen Entwicklungslinien des informationsgesellschaftlichen Paradigmas ableiten? Was kommt nach der Informationsgesellschaft, etwa ein „Grüner Kapitalismus“? Diesen Fragen stellen sich die feministische Science-Studies-Autorin Jutta Weber (Paderborn), der Künstler und Forscher Gerald Nestler (Wien/London) und Netzkultur-Theoretiker Felix Stalder (Zürich/Wien) durch Keynote-Vorträge. In der zweiten Hälfte des Abends werden die Themen diskutiert, unter Beteiligung des Technopolitics-Arbeitskreises, mit Freunden, Bekannten und Publikum. Eingeführt und moderiert wird der Abend von Technopolitics-Gründer Armin Medosch.
My talk at the "Eindruck der Dunkelheit" conference in Berlin, Jan 25/26.2014.
In the talk, I focussed on different types of power and how they relate to transparency. Put simply, transprancy (visibility + accountability) is great to put a check on "institutional power", but not very helpful to regulate "network power. On the contrary, it helps to increase such power. The discussion, which starts after 30 min, mainly dealt with questions of regulation and what to do to counter "network power".
Talk at the Embros Theater, Athens, 30.09.2013
Spooky light and noisy sound, which fits the place and the theme of the talk. Check out as well Konrad Becker's talk, same event.
Thanks to Thomas Kneubühler for the excellent organization! What a pleasure!