Today, growing concerns with climate change, energy scarcity, security, and economic collapse have turned the focus of urban planners, investors, and governments towards “infrastructure” as a site of value production and potential salvation from a world consistently defined by catastrophes and “crisis”.
This talk will interrogate the different forms of futurity and life that are currently emerging from this complex contemporary relationship between technology and design by engaging in a genealogy of "smartness" ranging from cybernetic ideas of machine learning in the late 1950's to early efforts to integrate computing into design at MIT in the Architecture Machine Group in the 1970's to contemporary greenfield "smart" developments in South Korea, India, and Abu Dhabi and the algorithmic financial instrumentation and data center infrastructures that support this speculation. In doing so, the talk will ask how these contemporary practices in ubiquitous computing, machine learning, responsive environments, and "resilient" planning are shaping the design of large-scale infrastructures, making certain forms of life vulnerable and expendable and producing our imaginaries of the future of life.
Orit Halpern is a Strategic Hire in Interactive Design and Theory and an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University, Montréal. Her work bridges the histories of science, computing, and cybernetics with design and art practice. Her recent book Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason since 1945 (Duke Press 2015) is a genealogy of interactivity and our contemporary obsessions with “big” data and data visualization. She is currently working on two academic books: the first book, titled The Smartness Mandate, is a history and theory of “smartness”, environment, and ubiquitous computing and the second is about extreme infrastructures, futurity, and habitat. For more information visithttp://www.orithalpern.net/index.html
This event is free and open to the public.