Benjamin Bratton - Bartlett International Lecture Series 2012/13

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2 or 3 Things I Know About The Stack: Projects and Projections Toward the Acceleration of Integral Accidents

As a regime, planetary computation operates at multiple scales, from cloud computing to addressable nanobots. Instead of thinking of this heterogeneity as a unstructured proliferation of incommensurable technologies, they should be understood as layers of an emergent hardware/ software stack. The Stack is a megastructure built out of far-flung data centers, embedded urban applications, universal addressing schemes, weird quasi-sovereign geographies, and maniacal self-quantification. How might the emergent geopolitics of this architecture be designed? Each layer generates its own productive accidents: Westphalian geometries of State sovereignty are augmented by an emergent Cloud Polis, even Cloud Feudalism. Cities and mobile software spin out new rights and restrictions to a global hypercity based as much on the capitalization of gestures as the acceleration of mobility. IPv6 and other universal addressing schemes link objects and events into abyssal fields of information exchange. Monotheisms rush in to invest new interfaces with primordial scripts. Augmentation of skin with nanosensors introduces new genres of epidermal media and biopolitical securitization. How to intervene? Designing for the post-Anthropocene requires working across multiple scales at once, working backwards from catastrophic virtualities, and testing the breaking points of provisional totalities.

Benjamin H. Bratton is a theorist whose work spans Philosophy, Art and Design. He Associate Professor of Visual Arts and Director of D:GP, The Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego. His work is situated at the intersections of contemporary social and political theory, computational media &
infrastructure, architectural & urban design, and the politics of synthetic ecologies and biologies. Current work focuses on the political geography of cloud computing, massively-granular universal addressing systems, and alternate models of ecological governance. His next book, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, is forthcoming from MIT Press.

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