240G-004 | CCN:

Rhetorical Theory

The Concept of the Political in the Age of Intelligent Machines

Instructor: David Bates,

4 Units

Gilles Deleuze predicted many years ago, in "Post-Script on Societies of Control," that we were moving into a situation where the computer would play a central role in defining new relations of surveillance and organization. Now, in the midst of the digital revolution, the strange naturalization of ubiquitous computation alongside shifting displacements of coercion and control (not to mention multiple tracking systems and automated anticipations) have made isolating and conceptualizing the sphere of the political a challenging task. 

This seminar will approach this challenge by first reading key twentieth-century texts on the political, keeping an eye on their specific emphasis on technology, and raising the question of the state in that context. Main readings will include Carl Schmitt's books Concept of the Political, Political Theology, Leviathan in the State Theory of Hobbes, and other selected texts; Hannah Arendt's Human Condition and selected essays; Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment; and some of Heidegger's writing on technology. The second part of the course will look at the concepts of cybernetics and in particular applications of Artificial Intelligence and cybernetic ideas to social and political problems. Readings will include major AI and cybernetic theoretical texts. The last part of the course will be an intensive examination of contemporary thought concerning technology and the human where we will draw out political implications of intelligent computation, algorithmic governance, and other issues. Authors will include Gilles Deleuze, Deleuze and Guattari, Donna Haraway, Bernard Stiegler, Benjamin Bratton, Luciana Parisi, and others.