Upcoming this week (June 2nd and3rd), is a probably very interesting symposium organized by the Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California – San Diego. The symposium is entitled Designing Geopolitics and include various speakers such as Ed Keller, Manuel de Landa, Benjamin Bratton, Geoff Manaugh, Teddy Cruz and Hernan Diaz Alonso (both of them being in the same panel, believe me or not !).
Here is the schedule of those two days followed by the brief of the symposium. (Don’t forget to register on their page before going there !):
THURSDAY, JUNE 2
9:30 Designing the Century: Futurity’s Past
Benjamin H. Bratton, Norman Klein, Geoff Manaugh
11:00 Network Polis: Promise/Peril
James Fowler, Adam Bly, Metahaven (video from Netherlands)
1:30 “Force is a Diagram of Forms”: Architecture, Emergence, Emergency
Hernan Diaz-Alonso, Teddy Cruz, Jordan Crandall
3:00 Data as World, World-Image, World-Making
Lev Manovich, Kelly Gates, Molly Wright Steenson
FRIDAY, JUNE 3
9:30 Planetary Data, Planetary Governance
Larry Smarr, Charlie Kennel, Naomi Oreskes
11:00 Design and Post-Humanism
Ed Keller, Vernor Vinge, Rene Daalder
Tricia Wang (video from China)
1:30 The Agency of Code: Form, Tool, Policy
Casey Reas, Ricardo Dominguez, Elizabeth Losh
3:30 Geophilosophy, Geoaesthetics, Geopolitics
Manuel De Landa (video from Spain), Peter Krapp, McKenzie Wark
Geo-graphy, Geo-technolgy, Geo-governance
These questions are not only technology policy and standards issues, nor can they be properly addressed by extrapolating and extruding political models from past Modern eras, nor can they be fully articulated by political philosophical models, nor can they be directly diagrammed and modeled as design engineering equations. Instead variations on each of these faculties must be enrolled all at once.
D:GP’s interest is in presupposing tectonic shifts in both what is possible and what is necessary to re-speculate upon geo-technology and to re-design geo-governance. What are the imagined communities upon which it based? How does planetary-scale computation generate new geographies over which traditional State jurisdictions may have little control? How do these spaces constitute authority on their own formal and informal terms? In that future what is new and what is archaic? What maps, what media of exchange and equivalence, what agency of the object, what politics of risk,? Can we design these questions, or only be designed by them?
Contemporary geopolitics are knotted throughout these problematics: how the use of SMS and Twitter in Iran, Haiti, Philippines, Russia suggests another stratum of crowds and power, how Wikipedia formalizes consensus from a heteroglossia of interests, how Google services do and do not circumvent national authority in China. How is it that some emergent geographies (such as cloud computing) as well as traditional geographies (such as Dar-al Islam) are able to to compete with States not only for claims over legitimate violence, but also claims over legitimate citizenship? What are the long-term ramifications that privatization of the common intellect by search and social network platforms will have on humanity’s ability to self-govern? (We could easily add any number of torn-from-the-headlines developments: Wikileaks and data.gov, net-neutrality and the Golden Shield, Dot-P2P & OpenDNS, the Google Earth stand-off between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, etc., etc.)
The Faculties of Design
The issues raised by DESIGNING GEOPOLITICS are central to what is undoubtedly the most consequential challenge to our capacity to redesign geo-governance: the fragility of our climatic and ecological commonwealth. The Copenhagen conference underscores why international, top-down organizations have a limited ability to enforce transformation through legal consensus. The climate crisis may necessitate the formulation of new scales of jurisdiction (both smaller and larger than the member state), new modes of calculating energy (quantifying, computing, distributing, visualizing a polity of electrons), and new forms of networked geopolitics (that can serve the estimated 650 million migrants by 2050.) Or what if new techniques of energy production, exchange and dissemination make these political economies of electron scarcity moot? If so that is an even more challenging problem for our speculative political science.
It is also a problem that cannot be accounted for by simple oppositions of the open vs. the closed, of the free vs. the unfree, the public vs. the private, the state vs. the market, the north vs. the south, the emerging vs. the emergent, the network vs. the institution, the smooth vs. the striated. We identify closely curated commons: digital commons (Wikipedia), ecological commons (rain forests), biological commons (genomes), social commons (educational systems), etc. as the results of complex adaptive systems operating through specific protocols and regulation mechanisms. And while the value they possess is in principle generally and generously sharable, when they are over-exploited by specific initiatives without some mechanism for renumeration to their care, their values as our commonwealths are diminished. The open can destroy the open as much as the closed can.
How can we prototype alternatives? These destabilizations of governance and geography signal critical challenges to our capacities of analysis but more importantly to faculties of design. This conference argues that the architecture of the geopolitical is a meta-design problem that no single perspective can comprehend let alone build, but that it remains forever a highly volatile arrangement of untranslatable situations into which we have no real choice but to enter into directly: territories, institutions, constitutions, conditions of sovereignty, citizenship. While emergent technologies both drive and index these transformations, how they could mediate the emergence of global-scale imagined communities is the critical issue (and it is one through the arts and humanities have a central authority in that the circulation of information structures real human meaning, and how meaning structures the world.)
Conference and Convention
Toward this, we convene Designing Geopolitics: Computational Jurisdictions, Emergent Governance, Public Ecologies, a interdisciplinary conference that will organize scholars from a wide range of disciplines and professions around these critical issues. We have made initial invitations to participants from the Visual Arts, Political Science, Philosophy, Systems Ecology, Engineering, Computer Science, History, Architecture, Literature, Interaction Design, Anthropology, Information Sciences, among others. We have also extended invitations to key strategic thinkers at some of the private companies whose work most directly bears on our issues. The conference program will align the design, the humanities with technologists and scientists and will place Calit2 at a critical interface between these academic and private missions. The event is supported by UCSD through Calit2, the Division of Arts and Humanities, and the Department of Visual Arts.