This looks like it was a fascinating event…
Workshop hosted by the Digital Life Research Program
Artwork by Stephen Scrivener
Date: Friday March 10, 2017
Time: 10am – 4.30pm
Venue: EB.G.21, Parramatta South campus
Among its many political preoccupations, 2016 was marked by an obsessive concern with the new powers of the machine to erase human labour and employment. Science fiction dystopias – among them, the French Trepalium and the Brazilian 3% – saddled older anxieties about a world without work to a more novel recognition of resource depletion and scarcity. Academic publishing houses, conference organisers, funding agencies and the press have responded with a deluge of content covering algorithms, automation and the Anthropocene. Meanwhile, a less conspicuous narrative about the decline of innovation has resurfaced with claims that the rate of fundamental new technology inventions is slowing and jeopardising long term global productivity returns. What happens when technology hits its limits? Velocity and volume excite machinic economies, but do little to confront some of the core problems and challenges facing planetary labour and life today.
This workshop brings together leading Australian scholars of technology and society with contemporary German and French reflections on the prevailing discourses of technology’s limits. Since the 1990s, Bernard Stiegler has been a leading philosopher and critic of technology, and in his recent book Automatic Society he directly tackles problems of automation and algorithms for the distribution of financial and social resources to populations increasingly bereft of economic capital and political agency. Building upon Frankfurt School critical theory and Kittlerian media theory, contemporary German critique intersects with similar questions by combining investigations of epistemology, history and the technical. The Australian take on these European developments is simultaneously appreciative and critical, though often oriented toward more regional conditions that arise in part due to different economic, cultural and political relations with Asia.
The morning session of the workshop will introduce current theoretical European work on technology. Daniel Ross will develop a critical introduction to Bernard Stiegler, whose recent work in Automatic Society and In the Disruption continues to mount a wide-ranging and provocative critique of technology. Armin Beverungen will then offer an overview of his research on algorithmic management and high-frequency trading, with Ned Rossiter introducing logistical media as technologies of automation and labour control. In the afternoon, Gay Hawkins will outline her theoretical interest in nonhuman and technical objects and their irreducible role in making humans and ecologies. A key empirical example will be the history of plastic and the emergence of its technical agency and capacity to reconfigure life. Nicholas Carah will follow with a discussion of his latest work on algorithms, brand management and media engineering. The workshop will close with an audience-driven panel session and discussion. These interventions will be held in conjunction with a close reading of the key texts below.
Attendance numbers will be limited so please register in advance. No registration fee required.
RSVP by 7 March on Eventbrite
- Armin Beverungen
Junior Director at the Digital Cultures Research Lab (DCRL) at Leuphana UniversitÃ¤t LÃ¼neburg & Visiting Fellow, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University
- Nicholas Carah
Author of Brand Machines, Sensory Media and Calculative Culture (2016)
- Gay Hawkins
Author of Plastic Water: The Social and Material Life of Bottled Water (2015)
- Liam Magee
Author of Interwoven Cities (2016)
- Nicole Pepperell
Author of Dissembling Capital (forthcoming, 2017)
- Daniel Ross
Translator of Bernard Stiegler’s Automatic Society (2016) and numerous other works
- Ned Rossiter
Author of Software, Infrastructure, Labor: A Media Theory of Logistical Nightmares (2016).
Co-chairs: Liam Magee and Ned Rossiter, co-convenors of the Institute for Culture and Society’s Digital Life research program.
Frank Pasquale (2017), Duped by the Automated Public Sphere
Lee Rainer and Janna Anderson [Pew Research Center] (2017), Code-Dependent: Pros and Cons of the Algorithm Age
Bernard Stiegler (2012), Die AufklÃ¤rung in the Age of Philosophical Engineering (opens in a new window)
Bernard Stiegler (2015), Escaping the Anthropocene
Bernard Stiegler (2015), On Automatic Society
Sonia Sodha [The Guardian] (2017), Is Finland’s basic universal income a solution to automation, fewer jobs and lower wages?
Bruce Braun (2014), A New Urban Dispositif? Governing Life in an Age of Climate Change
Nick Dyer-Witheford (2013), Contemporary Schools of Thought and the Problem of Labour Algorithms (opens in a new window)
Victor Galaz (2015), A Manifesto for Algorithms in the Environment
Victor Galaz et al. (2017), The Biosphere Code
Orit Halpern (2015), Cloudy Architectures
Erich Hörl (2014), Prostheses of Desire: On Bernard Stiegler’s New Critique of Projection
Yuk Hui (2015), Algorithmic Catastrophe: The Revenge of Contingency (opens in a new window)
International Labour Organisation (2016), ASEAN in Transformation
Lilly Irani (2015), The Cultural Work of Microwork
MIT Technology Review (2012), The Future of Work
Cathy O’Neill (2016), How Algorithms Rule Our Working Lives
Elaine Ou (2017), Working for an Algorithm Might Be an Improvement (opens in a new window)
The Guardian (2016), Robot Factories Could Threaten Jobs of Millions of Garment Workers
Tommaso Venturini, Pablo Jensen, Bruno Latour (2015), Fill in the Gap. A New Alliance for Social and Natural Sciences
- 10:00 –10:10: Liam Magee, Ned Rossiter: Welcome and Introduction
- 10:10–11:10: Daniel Ross
- 11:10–11:30: Q&A
- 11:30–11:45: Coffee
- 11:45–1:00: Armin Beverungen, Ned Rossiter
- 1:00–2:00: Lunch
- 2:00–3:15: Gay Hawkins, Nicholas Carah
- 3:15–4:15: Panel discussion responding to automation: Dan / Gay / Nicholas / Armin / Nicole – Liam & Ned to chair
- 4:15–4:30: Closing thoughts, future actions