Zurich, 26 Nov. The Computation of Cognitive Capital

November 24th, 2014

Abstract. Since the times of Smith, Ricardo and Marx, capital is clearly a form of computation. The apparatuses of capital describe by themselves a complex mathematical system. After WWII the numeric dimension of capital has been coupled with the numeric dimension of cybernetics and computing machines, then gradually subsuming also upcoming forms of augmented intelligence. Capital, as a form of accounting, as a form of exterior mnemonic technique, is in itself a form of trans-human intelligence. Cognitive capitalism, specifically, on the basis of all its numeric procedures, from layman’s accounting to sophisticated algotrading, from immaterial labour to scientific research, is an institution of computation.


My paper for the seminar “Within The Domain Of The Sun’s Inverse. Or: where are we when thinking computationally? Speculative reasoning and the nature of the cosmos”. More info here → computingthesunsinverse.wordpress.com

The open seminar is co-curated by Vera Bühlmann (ETH Zurich) and Erin K Stapleton (Kingston University, London). It is a laboratory for applied virtuality event, organized by the Chair for Computer Aided Architectural Design at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, ETH. The event will take place at Wirtschaft Neumarkt and Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, on November 26th – 27th 2014. There will be papers delivered by invited speakers, and each will be 30 minutes long, with a 30 minutes discussion to follow.

Wednesday November 26 at Wirtschaft Neumarkt
Thursday November 27 at Cabaret Voltaire

In this seminar, we focus on the role of speculation in theory and philosophy in a historical manner, yet with clear inclinations to our contemporary present and the currently exploding interest in speculative methods in academic practice and research contexts. In order to expand our positions beyond strictly pragmatist considerations, we locate the role of speculation between two schematically accentuated poles: the first approaches the role of speculation in the (arguably inevitable) dogmatisms of anthropological cosmopolitics, operating within domains of sufficient reason; while the second approaches the role of speculation within a rational cosmology, where it (arguably inevitably) is prone to engender what Kant terms “the antinomies” of pure reason, and which he sees as inherent to all systematic approaches to the cosmos.

We will align these positions in a matrixical manner with vectors of (contemporary) characterizations of the sun written by such thinkers such as Henri Poincaré, Georges Bataille, Jean-François Lyotard, Gilles Deleuze, and Michel Serres. Based on these characterizations we will attempt to profile different understandings of economy. Two fields will serve as ‚case-situations‘ for thinking about the ‚energetic-material‘ role of the sun: (1) Artificial Photosynthesis and its consequences for how we can think about food and energy, and (2) ‚metabolizing‘ algorithms such as Google’s PageRank which introduce circuitous units for measuring the relevancy of data in a quasi-climatic sense, and the peculiar economy of data’s value the emergence of which we are presently witnessing – as an economy that is being addressed within the registers of ‘biopolitics’ and ‘cognitive capitalism’.

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