Power, Knowledge, Algorithm
The algorithm, often understood as a series of instructions or calculations in the computation of a particular problem, is central to the digital logic of the information age. They are designed to sort, compare, transmit, and segment, in the process producing statements about the world whose implications vary from the seemingly benign to the explicitly violent. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the relationship between algorithms and broader effects of power have been the subject of extensive transdisciplinary analysis. However, such efforts pose a significant challenge: how to get beyond the generalised technical conceptualisation of the ‘algorithm’, and trace the array of political elements in play across their design and deployment?
In this workshop, we query how a Foucauldian understanding of power as ‘enabling’ could assist investigations of current algorithmic relationships. How might we understand algorithms as being supported by, and supportive of, configurations of power/knowledge? What aspects of this configuration might they amplify and modulate, and at which points might they challenge such an understanding? Drawing on the research of the invited scholars, we will put this theoretical lens to work by examining a series of algorithmic systems in their sites of operation, exploring the interplay between their technical elements and the political effects they could produce.
The first half of the workshop will consist of talks by Dr. Seb Franklin (Kings College London) and Dr. Andrew Goffey (University of Nottingham). In the second half, we will invite attendees to respond to the issues raised in the talks through a series of algorithmic case studies.
All are welcome to attend and light refreshments will be provided.
Spaces are limited, so please register your attendance by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Seb Franklin is a Lecturer in the Department of English at King's College London, where he co-convenes the MA in Contemporary Literature, Culture, and Theory. He is the author of Control: Digitality as Cultural Logic (2015). His recent essays have appeared in Camera Obscura, Grey Room, Novel, and World Picture.
Andrew Goffey is Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Critical Theory at the University of Nottingham. He is the author (with Matthew Fuller) of Evil Media, the editor (with Eric Alliez) of The Guattari Effect and (with Roland Faber) of The Allure of Things. He is currently writing books on the politics of software and on the work of Félix Guattari. He is also the translator of In Catastrophic Times and Capitalist Sorcery by Isabelle Stengers, Powers of Time by David Lapoujade and Schizoanalytic Cartographies and Lines of Flight by Félix Guattari.