The Stack to Come:
Synthetic Sensing/ Intelligence (and The New Normal)

Instructor: Benjamin Bratton Module: 2 Date & Time: Tuesdays, September 20, 27, October 4, 11, 18, 25, Nov 1, 8, 2016 4:00 – 6:30pm EST

Mountain Lion Diorama, Hall of North American Mammals

This 8 session seminar will explore the design philosophy of systems at diverse scales: from planetary-scale computation (through Bratton’s recent book, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty) to molecular-scale sensing/intelligence (though his recent work and research with D:GP at University of California, San Diego).

Our condition is one that links seemingly distant and different things, one into another. Ecological flows become sites of intensive sensing, quantification and governance. Global computing infrastructure spurs platform economics and creates virtual geographies in its own image. Cities link into vast discontiguous urban networks as they also weave borders into enclaves or escape routes. Addressing systems locate billions of entities and events into unfamiliar maps. Interfaces present vibrant augmentations of reality, standing in for extended cognition. Users, both human and non-human, populate this tangled apparatus, an accidental megastructure that Bratton, calls The Stack.

The seminar will include a discussion of The Stack and several discussions, with invited guests, and demonstrations of recent design projects and technical research programs. Some presentations and discussions may also intersect with design development at D:GP at UCSD and Bratton’s seminar at SCI_Arc.

The course consists of two modules, each of four weeks. Each module consists of two lectures and two sessions of extensive discussions

Each module of the two-part seminar will be composed of four two and a half hour sessions, each of which will be conducted as an extended seminar. During this period material blogged the previous week will be discussed alongside the set material. Based upon the set readings, online news and commentary, and ongoing class discussion, students will be expected to contribute ~400 words of content to the seminar blog on relevant topics. (This will additionally be posted to the google classroom page for everyone to read and comment upon as they wish, providing some preliminary threads for the group discussion). The final assessment will consist of a 2500 word extended essay on a topic agreed upon with the instructor in advance.

Image: James Clark, Mountain Lion Diorama, 1955, Hall of North American Mammals

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