March 2015. Capital as Computation & Cognition seminar

February 9th, 2015

Spring 2015 I teach a seminar at the New Centre for Research and Practice. More info and syllabus soon…
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Capital as Computation & Cognition: From Babbage’s Factory to Google’s Algorithmic Governance


PROGRAM: Media & Technology CREDIT: 1
DATE: Tuesdays: March 3 – March 24
TIME: 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM EST



Since the times of Smith, Ricardo and Marx, if not for even longer, capital has functioned as a form of computation constituted by and as a complex mathematical system. As Simondon noticed, the industrial machine was already an informational relay, that was separating the source of energy (nature) from the source of information (the human). After WWII the numeric essence of capital has been coupled with the informational dimension of cybernetics and computing machines, while also subsuming emergent forms of augmented intelligence. Capitalism, as a form of accounting and as an exterior mnemonic technique, is in itself a form of transhuman intelligence. Cognitive capitalism, specifically, on the basis of its infonumeric procedures, from layman’s accounting to sophisticated algotrading, as well as from immaterial labour to scientific research, is an institution of computation.

The aim of the seminar is twofold: on the one hand, it will provide a introduction to some critical keywords (such as abstract labour, general intellect, cybernetic loop, calculation problem, immaterial labour, cognitive capitalism, augmented intelligence, computational limit, etc.) and to more recent debates around the technological form (on accelerationism and algorithmic governance, for instance). On the other hand, the seminar wants to provide a compact and accurate bibliography about the canonical approaches to the relation between capital, technology, knowledge and labour. A specific attention will be given to the precise historical contexts in which fundamental ideas were originated and crucial books published. All the bibliographies are therefore compiled in chronological order to make genealogies and the circulation of ideas more comprehensible (and to clarify also epic misunderstandings, weak intepretations and harsh criticism).

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