26/01/2012 (Workshop)
Luciana Parisi | Goldsmiths, London


According to Norbert Wiener, cybernetic automata »possess sense organs; that is, receptors for messages coming from the outside« through which they adapt and adjust to contingent rather than expected conditions. The sensory calculation of past events enables the future tendency towards energy dissipation to become a probability. Similarly, Kittler argues that all media, whether analog or digital, are information systems since they store, record and reproduce data for our sense perception. Media do not just handle the transmission and storage of data but they also control, through sophisticated mathematical algorithms, the processing of commands.s
This workshop will investigate how cybernetic machine and computational media can help us to explain how power has changed and how it has become ecological.  Drawing on Michel Foucault’s critique of neoliberalism as »environmentality open to contingency and transversal phenomena«, this workshop will then analyse the notion of the state of exception or emergency described by Giorgio Agamben as what drives the decisional power

in neoliberalism. The workshop will also consider Brian Massumi’s notion of ecology of fear, according to which neoliberalism’s rationality »operates according to a calculus of the minimal act«. In other words, it exercises a power of decision-making at the slightest point of inflection, the potential of an event, change or accident. The workshop will then discuss whether this form of neoliberalism corresponds to a new form of computation of probabilities extending this speculative power of decision to our everyday programming culture. Computational media for example continuously exercises this power of decision and anticipation of accidents through search engines working in the background of direct human perception. This algorithmic ecology of power will be analysed with students, who will be invited to present and discuss examples.


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