When we acknowledge that we study Cybernetics, its history and theories, as an attempt to archaeologically discern the techno-epistemological stage through which our contemporary cultures and societies currently transit — and thus, too, the way through which we got here and the possible routes we could then follow —, we face the challenge of recognizing the many folds that would structure such a history; that is to say, the necessity of identifying the multiplicity of paths — the histories, in plural — that shape the complex, the system, Cybernetics helped to configure.
It is in the wake of such configurations that this seminar will move: aiming to trace the histories that, by going beyond the geographical centers drawn by Europe and North America, show the concurrences of scientific discourses, techniques, infrastructures, and technologies that point out the emergence of a feedback loop we will call tele-economy of exchange, and/or exchange as an economy of and for telecommunications. Thus, we will use Michel Foucault's notion of Exchange as an archaeological starting point to study Chile's project Cybersyn — the network and system developed by Stafford Beer and his team —, and through that, the odd and apparently improbable possibility that a genealogy of an economy of data, and of data as economical value, might find some of its historical nodes in a remote 1970s’ South America.
Hence, the class’ participants will be introduced to the analysis of key archaeological concepts, historical events on the exchange of scientific discourse and technological infrastructure (between Europe, North America and South America), as well as of a brief genealogy on the history of capital, the state, machines, and data. With that, through each session, the attendees will participate of open discussions that will lead to the delivery of an analytical and yet speculative essay on the possible connections between the history of Cybernetics, the exchange of data, its economy, and the current state of our media-cultures, which can take the form of a presentation or a short paper.
- Foucault, Michel. "Exchanging." In The Order of Things. An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, 180-234. London: Tavistock Publications, 1970;
- Miller Medina, Jessica Eden. "The State Machine: Politics, Ideology and Computation in Chile, 1964-1973." PhD diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2005;
- Ashby, W. Ross. An Introduction to Cybernetics. London: Chapman & Hall, 1956;
- Beer, Stafford. Brain of the Firm. London: Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1972;
- Lettvin, Jerome, Humberto Maturana, Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts. "What the Frog's Eye Tells the Frog's Brain.” Proceedings of the IRE 47, no. 11 (1959): 1940-1951;
- Maturana, Humberto, and Francisco Varela. Autopoiesis and Cognition. The Realization of the Living. Boston: D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1980 ;
- Von Foerster, Heinz. Understanding Understanding: Essays on Cybernetics and Cognition. New York: Springer-Verlag, 2003;
- Marx, Karl. "The Fragment on Machines." In Accelerate. The Accelerationist Reader, edited by Robin Mackay and Armen Avanessian, 51–66. Falmouth/Berlin: Urbanomic/Merve, 2014 ;
- Srnicek, Nick. Platform Capitalism. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2017;
- Agamben, Giorgio. "What is an Apparatus?" In What is an Apparatus? And Other Essays, translated by David Kishik and Stefan Pedatella, 1-24. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009;
- Foucault, Michel. "Politics and the Study of Discourse." In The Foucault Effect. Studies in Governmentality, edited by Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon and Peter Miller, 53-72. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991;
- Foucault, Michel. "Governmentality." In The Foucault Effect. Studies in Governmentality, edited by Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon and Peter Miller, 87-104. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991.