42-48: Suspended Automation
The robots are coming! As machines and algorithmic automation replace human laborers in the workplace, will they bring the scourge of mass unemployment, rippling inequality, and total control? Or will they arrive bearing the gifts of leisure and abundance, liberating us from the daily obligation to stand on the assembly line, scrub toilets, or push paper (or digital files) in an office? What actions might we take to realize the beneficent scenario and not the dystopian one? Will innovation dispel the possibility of either scenario by creating new kinds of work we’ve yet to foresee? Along with the effects of increasing automation on our economic and political futures, participants debated the value of work in society and in our imaginations, and offered potential means to reevaluate, restructure, and altogether refuse it.
John Miller is an artist and writer based in New York and Berlin, and a professor of professional practice at Barnard. He speculated about environmental concerns as they relate to entropy, technology, systems theory, networks, conceptual art, sci-fi, and immortality.
Thursday, May 23, 20132 p.m. seminar (no audio recording available) 4 p.m. lecture (audio recording below)
Chris Csikszentmihalyi is an artist working on technologies that rebalance power between citizens, governments, and corporations; he founded and directed the Center for Civic Media at MIT. Mary “Missy” Cummings is one of the Navy’s first female fighter pilots and director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab at Duke University. Thomas Keenan is director of the Bard Human Rights Project. They debated the future of drones.
Saturday, June 1, 20133 p.m. (audio recording below)
Peter Frase is an editor of Jacobin and a PhD candidate in sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center. Ashwin Parameswaran writes about resilience in economics, ecology, technology, and other complex systems. They debated the future of work, technological unemployment, and the universal basic income.
Sunday, June 16, 20133 p.m. (audio recording below)
N. Katherine Hayles is a professor of literature at Duke University and the author of How We Became Posthuman. She lectured on algorithmic trading and the urgent need for humanists, artists, and game developers to develop counter-narratives that displace the dominant discussion around global financial markets.
Thursday, June 20, 20132 p.m. seminar (no audio recording available) 4 p.m. lecture (audio recording below)
Alex Gourevitch is a political science professor at Brown University who writes about the environment, work, and economic freedom. Kathi Weeks is the author of The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries. They debated the role of work in the future.
Sunday, June 23, 20133 p.m. (audio recording below)
Gopal Balakrishnan is a political theorist and the author of The Enemy: An Intellectual Portrait of Carl Schmitt and the essay “Speculations on the Stationary State.” David Graeber is an anthropologist and activist whose books include The Democracy Project and Debt: The First 5,000 Years. They discussed prospects for utopia and stagnation in the United States and worldwide.
Thursday, July 4, 20133 p.m. (audio recording below)
Silvia Federici, emerita professor of political philosophy and international studies at Hofstra University, is an activist, teacher, and writer whose most recent book is Revolution at Point Zero. She talked about the future of the family and reproductive labor.
Thursday, July 18, 20132 p.m. seminar (no audio recording available) 4 p.m. lecture (audio recording below)