IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Improbable Futures: Automation and Imagination
This talk introduces a critical approach to studying and designing futures by foregrounding the improbability of the many claims about emerging technologies — and, in particular, automated and algorithmic systems — as we experience them in everyday life. In contrast to the modernist project of prediction and control by nearly perfect machines, this talk argues that emerging technologies, like fallible humans, should be understood through their flaws and failures, gaps and glitches, seams and symptoms, errors and omissions, bugs and biases, and, importantly, the implications of these breakdowns on larger complex socio-technical systems. By integrating a deeper understanding of the myriad of ways in which emerging technologies malfunction — whether these are technical, social, cultural, political, economic or environmental failures — it is possible to destabilize the claims around these technologies for the purpose of re-imagining our future more than human worlds in line with the inventive turn. Through participation and becoming, it is possible to go beyond hybrid, situated knowledges and practices that move from the experiment (in the scientific sense) to the experimental (in the artistic sense), from optimization to imagination, from prediction to possibility, and from persuasion to speculation.
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