Editorial—“Dialogues on Recursive Colonialisms, Speculative Computation, and the Techno-social” – Journal #123 December 2021 – E-Flux

Issue 123 of e-flux journal is guest-edited by the Critical Computation Bureau (CCB), a collective of researchers and writers working between technology and culture, computer science and information theory, aesthetics and politics. The members—Luciana Parisi, Ezekiel Dixon-Román, Tiziana Terranova, Oana Pârvan, and Brian D’Aquino—are situated in the US, the UK, and Southern Italy, and engage with networks spanning several continents to intervene in the techno-politics of racial capitalism and its recursive regeneration. We understand recursivity, a central concern for this issue, to be about the self-regulation, self-adaption, and self-regeneration of systems—including the recursive regeneration of the colonial episteme, which we call “recursive colonialisms.” We also understand speculative computation as the possibility of re-elaborating the limits of knowledge from the standpoint of what cannot be measured. Following Cedric J. Robinson, we see racial capitalism as the process of extracting social and economic value from specific groups on the basis of race. Thinking through this method and process as well as its incumbent epistemologies and cosmologies, this issue asks what technology can tell us about the recursive formation of racial capitalism, and how the logic of recursive feedback (foundational to cybernetics) becomes a basis for the ways in which the machine’s role as a medium for computation is also that of a medium for today’s racial capitalism.

This issue stems from dialogues conducted during the CCB’s symposium Recursive Colonialism, Artificial Intelligence, and Speculative Computation, which took place online over two weeks in December 2020, and included more than twenty speakers and a selection of artworks by contributors from Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa. This special issue then departs from perspectives on representational form, discourse, and the critique of technology to interrogate how the servo-mechanic model of knowledge reproduction has been foundational to both the abstraction/extraction of value constituting racial capitalism and the postcolonial genealogies of contemporary techno-social networks.

The dialogic texts in this issue address the intersections of colonialism, racial capitalism, and technology, particularly foregrounding types of computation and machine epistemology (or automated learning) that have configured intelligent automated knowledge systems such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and techno-social networks. Furthermore, the issue extends the dialogues from the conference in written form and expands upon their questions—also addressing Black Feminist Poethics, haunting algorithms, and Mediterranean techno-cultures in incomplete, recursive modes of critical and speculative thinking.

Working in the strange attraction between speculative approaches, critical theorizations, and imaginary practices, this issue also asks how a technology or machine epistemology constituted by the entanglement between racial capitalism, recursive colonialisms, and computation can still overcome the overrepresentation of Man or Promethean cosmogonies. How does machine epistemology also allow for futures that run counter to a mere feeding into and from techno-social networks? In this procedure of abstraction, which could be called socio-technical or techno-sociogenic, the iterability of techno-signs through the flesh discloses the possibilities of otherwise languages, otherwise worlds, otherwise cognitions. If machine epistemology depended only on the cognitive extension or prosthetics of the brain’s neural networks, it would be just another version of the Promethean project of the mastery of tools. Machine epistemology does not articulate cognition in terms of embodiment in an environment, but rather in terms of a form of cognition. This entails a possibility for a techno-semiosis whereby the flesh at once remains and becomes the medium of the world and as such becomes a techno-sign of cultural formations. We have thus become aware of how the socio-technical or techno-sociogenic can inherit existing cosmogonies, not in a deterministic or imitative way, but through …….

Source: https://www.e-flux.com/journal/123/438467/editorial-dialogues-on-recursive-colonialisms-speculative-computation-and-the-techno-social/

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