monthly lectures
Kunst & Kunsttheorie


This talk will examine a genealogy of ideas concerning decision making, technology, freedom, and evolution in post 1970’s economics, the human and life sciences, and finance. I intend to trace the reformulation of categories fundamental to liberalism and liberal economic thinking through technologies of machine learning and artificial intelligence. The central argument is that beginning in the 1970’s a combination of economic theory and financialization, shifts in models of nature, evolution, and environment, and transformations in understandings of cognition and neuro-science merged to reorganize ideas of intelligence. Intelligence began to be understood as networked, self-organizing, and dispersed into the environment. Markets (and later digital social networks) came to be understood as the only mechanisms that could coordinate decision making at scale. And finally concepts like freedom and revolution were recast in terms of biological systems. These changes have come to shape how artificial intelligence is governed, imagined, and designed in our present. At stake in this story is one of narrative. How have stories about neural networks transformed ideas of the human? the political? and the economic?


Orit Halpern is Full Professor and Chair of Digital Cultures at Technische Universität Dresden. Her work bridges the histories of science, computing, and cybernetics with design. She completed her Ph.D. at Harvard. She has held numerous visiting scholar positions including at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, IKKM Weimar, and at Duke University. She is currently working on two projects. The first is a history of automation, intelligence, and freedom; the second project examines extreme infrastructures and the history of experimentation at planetary scales in design, science, and engineering.