Thinking Together

Thinking Together

Conference
Thinking Together

Time and the Digital Universe

Conference “Time and the Digital Universe” – part 2 | part 1

George Dyson
Darwin among the Machines

On 1st October 1859, just as Charles Darwin's Origin of Species was going to press, a 23-year-old Samuel Butler boarded the emigrant ship Roman Emperor for New Zealand, rejecting his father’s insistence that he choose between the Law and the Church. Reading Darwin’s treatise by candlelight in a remote sheepherder’s hut, Butler became obsessed with certain flaws in Darwin’s argument, and the realization that the jurisdiction of evolution includes not only the realm of nature, but the kingdom of machines. In the 153 years since Butler published "Darwin Among the Machines" in the Christchurch Press, we have seen the decoding of living organisms, and the encoding of life-like processes into machines. The Darwin-Butler controversy of the 19th century has become the synthesis driving the 21st.
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Luciana Parisi
Automated Temporalities and the Becoming of Artificial Intelligence

If the clock embodied the rationalist view of mechanical thinking, where knowledge is reflected in the clocklike mechanisms of matter, the XXth century efforts of mathematical logic established an algorithmic function, a meta-mathematical axiomatics, abstracted from physical temporalities. With the invention of the Turing Machine, time was not simply disentangled from physical causes, but more importantly, algorithmic functions made time programmable. Since Turing Machines are future-oriented models of thinking, they are above all predictability machines. My talk on Sunday will address this algorithmic function of predictability in relation to the incompleteness of the axiomatic method, whereby undecidable propositions reveal that the future cannot be deduced from a priori truths. With the development of interactive, asynchronous and distributive computing, computational thinking no longer can be described in terms of closed systems of axioms and deductive rules. As computational theorists remind us, axioms modified, rules amended and truths have become experimental (Chaitin, Crutchfield). But whilst computational thinking has become bound to evolutionary temporalities, this talk contends that the distinction between formal and physical computation is not simply to be overcome, but is in need to be explained. How is formal time embedded in real time?
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Matteo Pasquinelli
The Time of the Automaton: Finance and the Algorithmic Division of Value
In a text dated 1835 the pioneer of computation Charles Babbage illustrated the use of clocks for the automation of mathematical operations, the replacement of “the mental division of labour” in the first industrial factories, and the design of the Analytical Engine. As also Philip Mirowski remarked, the Analytical Engine, the first stored-program computer, was in fact a miniature factory. Clocks have been the empirical model of the human mind, machines and labour for centuries. In 1948, Norbert Wiener framed the history of the industrial automaton according to three stages and temporalities: the Newtonian age with its clocks, the industrial age with its thermodynamic engines and the contemporary world with cybernetics. Surprisingly, and a bit mysteriously, Wiener said that the modem automaton of cybernetics “exists in the same sort of Bergsonian time as the living organism”, as it is not following the linear and reversible Newtonian time. Curiously, Wiener took meteorology as example of the statistical science to study the expanding and temperamental character of cybernetics. Holistic influences aside, Wiener already sensed a computational universe that was producing its own incomputable temporalities, as much unpredictable as the shape of clouds and financial markets. Contemporary finance, in particular, does not appears to follow a Newtonian time but the chaotic temporalities of High-Frequency Trading, cultivates its own self-catastrophic universe of derivatives and attempts to merge with the long now of a supersocial machinic intelligence.
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Annie Dorsen
Between the Digital and the Analog in Algorithmic Theatre
In 1971, on the eve of the first solo exhibit of computer-generated art, at ARC - Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Manfred Mohr wrote a statement outlining four principles guiding his use of algorithms in the creation of two-dimensional visual art. Taking his text as a guide, Annie Dorsen will discuss the challenges involved in bringing algorithms into theatre practice on the ground floor level, challenges which go to the heart of the form itself, the relation of real time to metaphor time, and of both to notions of liveness, the pre-determined, and the possible. Her research into algorithmic theater offers a new perspective on the live, the programmed, and all that lies between.
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Laboria Cuboniks
Xenofeminist Temporalities

Laboria Cuboniks (represented by Diann Bauer, Katrina Burch and Patricia Reed for this event) is a Xenofeminist collective, spread across five countries and three continents. She seeks to dismantle gender, do away with nature as a guarantor for inegalitarian political positions and avows complexity and reason as tools to construct a feminism adequate to our current conditions. Her name is an anagram of 'Nicolas Bourbaki', a pseudonym under which a group of largely French mathematicians worked towards an affirmation of abstraction, generality and rigour in mathematics in the early twentieth century. On Sunday as part of the weekend conference, Laboria Cuboniks will give a short presentation including a brief introduction to Xenofeminism and its relationship to time and temporality. This will be with a view to a more in-depth conversation through their workshop on Monday and Tuesday.

“Thinking Together”
consists of two parts:
SAT 12 & SUN 13 March, 12:00–18:00
Conference “Time and the Digital Universe”
MON 14 to FRI 18 March, 10:00–18:00
Workshops, seminars, projects
Registration for the work groups is kindly requested:

Curated by Berno Odo Polzer

“Thinking Together” – the discourse format is dedicated to exploring the phenomenon of time in its socio-political, philosophical and artistic dimensions. Consisting of lectures, workshops, public talks and experimental settings, the project provides time and space to reflect current time-related issues together with international guests from the fields of philosophy, political and social science, cultural studies, computer and neuroscience as well as music, dance, performance and visual art.

The opening conference under the title “Time and the Digital Universe” investigates new forms of digital time, their structures and ramifications, followed by a host of different projects between 14 and 18 March. Amongst the topics are current politico-philosophical imaginations of temporality, non-linear concepts of time, the notion of rhythm as an analytical tool, as well as the differing time practices of the arts, philosophy and science.

12:00 George Dyson
Darwin among the Machines

13:00 Luciana Parisi
Automated Temporalities and the Becoming of Artificial Intelligence

14:00 Matteo Pasquinelli
The Time of the Automaton: Finance and the Algorithmic Division of Value

15:30 Annie Dorsen
Between the Digital and the Analog in Algorithmic Theatre

16:30 Laboria Cuboniks
Xenofeminist Temporalities