Time and the Digital Universe
Thinking Together – Konferenz, Teil 1 | Teil 2
No Time Is There: The Digital Universe, and Why Things Appear to be Speeding Up
Our entire digital universe can be traced back to a single 32-by-32-by-40-bit matrix that was given form in 1946. „Decisions between elementary alternatives are initiated not with reference to time as an independent variable but rather according to sequence“. Julian Bigelow, the architect of this 5-kilobyte matrix, explained in 1949, before it was customary to refer to these alternatives as bits. “Time, therefore, does not serve as an index for the location of information,” he added, “but instead counter readings are used.” Because these counters have come to be known as clocks, it is easy to believe that time in the digital universe corresponds to time in our universe. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Blindness and Power of Algorithmic Prediction
The real power of algorithms seems to rely on their ability to predict the future - or at least this is the appeal of a series of buzzwords in the digital world: big data, machine learning and predictive analytics. We cannot know the future, but (that's the claim) algorithms can, because they are able to derive from the mass of data we all produce (often unconsciously) information that no human being could reconstruct nor understand.
But which future is it? Algorithms only allow us to know the future that results from a forward projection of today's uncertainty, not the open future producing a present that will be different from the one we are facing today. Digital prediction is about the present future, not the future present. The application of algorithmic techniques in finance shows it: one can know the future without knowing what will happen.
Dynamic stabilization is a defining feature of modern societies. This term refers to the fact that such a society requires (material) growth, (technological) augmentation and high rates of (cultural) innovation in order to reproduce its structure and to preserve its socioeconomic and political status quo. This feature has two decisive social consequences: it leads to a progressive logic of escalation in the realms of production, speed and social change, which can be grasped under the single concept of „social acceleration“. Information and communication technologies are at the core of the latest wave of acceleration in the 21st century. However, not all spheres of social life are equally „speedable“, or equally fit for „dynamization”. Hence, the problem of „de-synchronization“ moves to the forefront of our contemporary society. Thus, I will argue, the four most pressing crises of the late-modern age are crises of „de-synchronization“: 1) The ecological crisis can be read as a crisis of de-synchronization between the speed of material turnover and economic production on the one hand and environmental reproduction on the other; 2) The ongoing financial crisis since 2008 can be understood as a consequence of the de-synchronization between the turnover-rates of the financial markets and those in the „real economy“ of material production and consumption; 3) The crisis of democracy signals a de-synchronization between the intrinsic speed of democratic will-formation and decision-making on the one hand and the speed of markets, of the media and of technological progress on the other; 4) The „psycho-crisis“ which can be observed in the sharp increase in burnout and depression rates results from a possible de-synchronization between the „speedability“ of the human psyche and the speed of social change, as Alain Ehrenberg has it.
Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism [Pressed for Time: Everyday Life in the Digital Age]
There is a widespread assumption that digital devices make us live too fast, a sense that time is scarce and that the pace of everyday life is accelerating beyond our control. The iconic image that abounds is that of the frenetic, technologically tethered, iPhone-addicted citizen. So what is the relationship between technology and time? Does technological acceleration inexorably hasten the pace of work and everyday life? This talk presents a sociological understanding of the paradoxes of time in a digital age. I will argue that there is no temporal logic inherent in technologies. As opposed to the technologically determinist approach, I will argue that it is our concrete social practices that generate those qualities of technologies that we usually consider as intrinsic and permanent. Technologies do play a central role in the constitution of time regimes, as our very experience of human action and the material world is mediated by technology. But, we make the world together with technology and so it is with time.
besteht aus zwei Teilen:
SA 12. & SO 13. März, 12:00–18:00
Konferenz „Time and the Digital Universe“
MO 14. bis FR 18. März, 10:00–18:00
Workshops, Seminare, Projekte
Für die Workshops und Seminare wird um Anmeldung gebeten:
Kuratiert von Berno Odo Polzer
Das Diskurs-Format „Thinking Together“ widmet sich dem Phänomen Zeit in seinen gesellschaftlich-politischen, philosophischen und künstlerischen Dimensionen. Frei zugänglich, stellt das Projekt Zeit und Raum zur Verfügung, gemeinsam mit internationalen Gästen aus den Bereichen Philosophie, Politische Theorie, Kultur- und Sozialwissenschaften, Computer- und Neurowissenschaften, sowie Musik, Tanz, Performance und Bildender Kunst über aktuelle Zeitfragen nachzudenken.
Unter dem Titel „Time and the Digital Universe“ spürt die zweitägige Eröffnungskonferenz neuen digitalen Zeitformen, ihren Eigenschaften und Auswirkungen nach. Zwischen dem 14. und 18. März beschäftigen sich Vorträge, Workshops, Seminare und experimentelle Formate u. a. mit aktuellen politisch-philosophischen Imaginationen der Zeitlichkeit, mit nicht-linearen Zeitkonzepten, mit dem Begriff Rhythmus, sowie mit unterschiedlichen Zeitpraktiken in den Künsten, in Philosophie und Wissenschaft.