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Infrastructural Intelligence:
Cryptology & the History of Technology

Instructor: Paul Feigelfeld
Program: Media & Technology
Guest(s): TBA
Credit(s): 2
Module: 1 & 2
Date: February 14, 21, 28, March 7, 14, 21, 27, April 4
Time: Tuesday, 1:00pm – 3:30pm EST

Enigma Machine Cipher

DESCRIPTION:This course explores the infrastructuralization of artificial intelligence techniques including deep learning and convolutional neural networks along with the autonomization of capitalist processes in tools and entities like blockchain, DAO and Ethereum. By approaching them in the context of their cultural, philosophical, political, social, economic, and ecologic entanglements, students will gain a much more critical perception of the potential implications they carry than they might otherwise encounter. Of course, technological infrastructures have long become ecological both in terms of material needs requiring a restructuring of old and establishment of new infrastructures (such as rare earth mineral mining, transport, recycling, waste, etc.), and through which the Anthropocene has long become the Technocene. The ubiquity and behavior of these infrastructures both in IoT objects, as well as distributed systems, has been modeled after the techno-ecologic thought of the Baroque and Cybernetics and are thus in critical need of analysis. From institutional critique to infrastructural critique, the course develops countertactics in theory and practice, while closing with a hands-on cryptology workshop (PGP, TOR, encrypted messaging, introduction to Tails Linux etc.).

REQUIREMENTS: The seminar will be composed of eight 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 white paper on a research topic agreed upon with the instructor in advance.

Image: Enigma Cipher machine Rotor, circa 1940s


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