10:00AM - 12:30AM
Saturday’s Conference begins with six sessions to choose from “Digital Labor & Geographies of Crisis”, “24/7” (Artist panel discussion), “Digital Solidarity & Crowdsourcing,” “Algorithmic Hegemony & the Droning of Labor,” “Taxing Data Labor & Labor in the Monetized Peer Economy,” and “Civic Hacking.”
I’m in the Panel Discussion: “Algorithmic Hegemony & the Droning of Labor” http://digitallabor.org/schedule/algorithmic-hegemony-and-the-droning-of-labor
In his talk, “The Uses of Personality: Social, Bureaucratic and System Identities,” A. Aneesh discusses the changes in modern identity due to what he frames as the (Foucauldian) transfer from technology to cosmology, where, under biopower, life is folded into history, identity is framed and adapted based on the results of interaction. He describes, “modern identity is abstract, recursive, contingent on predictions of behavior, algorithmic search,” but that “whenever state controls these environments, there are necessarily asymmetries.” Further that, “Individual identity is no longer a totality, but contingent on technologies, and events.” My initial reaction is that this language is helpful for us to think through how networked bodies reveal the multiplicity/multiplicities (Bergson, Deleuze) within identity under capitalism.
Jathan Sakowski’s talk: “From Mega-Machines to Mega-Algorithms: Digitization, Datification, and Dividualization” discusses ways in which new technologies allow an intensification of human exploitation under the guise of volunteerism. An interesting example he brings up here is Coursera (a for-profit educational technology company that offers MOOCs), which recruits ‘volunteer’ translators of its course information, as part of its “Global Translator Community” (GTC) program. He uses the word “voulentariat” to describe performers of skilled work allegedly to the public good, but which in turn creates value for a corporation- value which is not shared with the volunteers. What other voluntariat publics can we think of?
Orit Halpern delves into what she calls, “architectures of divination,” where global “smart cities” which integrate information and communication technologies, specifically (e-participation in local governance, artificial intelligence embedded in physical environment, sensor networks, public sensor data gathering…) and computer aided design increasingly monetize perception and subjectivity. This talk does work to equate the rise of cybernetics (and surrounding research) with rise of financial speculation and finance. She describes how smart cities are embedded in ideological speculations of futures which, by their very definition as dynamic, evolving structures, are never to be actualized, but will continue to drive capital. Closing remark: “new ideas of zonal logic increasingly govern mentalities…”
Doris Allhutter, in her talk “Crowd Microtasking for the Semantic Revolution: of ‘Working Ontologists’ and ‘High-Quality Human Components” uses Protégé, a free, open-source ontology editor,” as a central example to demonstrate how ideology, hegemony, and performativity factor into the ongoing configurations of the semantic web, semantic computing.
Richard Gilman-Opalsky closes this panel with his talk: “On the Capitalist Dream for a World without Bodies: Digital Labor and Techno-ontology.” A central question of this talk: “Does capitalist consumption NEED bodies?” In some ways, capitalism looks on the body as an unfortunate obligation, think Black Friday crowd precocity, competition, and discomfort. Artificial Intelligence models have in some ways, focused on getting rid of the body and obviate the need for cognitive labor insisting that the flight of the brain from the body would be a kind of liberation. He leaves us with such questions as: how much do “real life” bodily gestural communication matter - should we focus on the ongoing importance of the body or liberate ourselves from the body? What would represent a less alienated state, a more radical stance?