Mark Hansen, “Against Clairvoyance: The Future of 21st Century Media”

Both the future of and the future according to… The status of the future in relation to media. 21st century media.

Book on Whitehead’s philosophy as resource for thinking about 21st century media. Offering a different entry into Whitehead than most of the work that’s been done. Less interested in Deleuze-Whitehead than in W’s interest in quantification, data (datum), speculation (speculative account). Drawing on Jorge Nobo (extensive continuum), Judith Jones (intensity). In the service of a bringing of Whitehead together with phenomenology and theme of ‘sensibility.’

Why is Whitehead fruitful for 21st century media? Resources for nonhuman, non-anthropocentric model of media.

Potentiality is ontologically more important than actuality. Superjectal subjectivity, the power to impact the future. The data phase as inaugurating the process that results in concrescences. Intensity as product of process of prehension. Reject ‘eternity’ of ‘eternal objects’ in favor of Dewey’s ‘eternal objects’ emerging in the context of experience; Steve Goodman. Worldly sensibility that qualifies the operation of superjects. [He's talking too fast for me...]

In sum, ANW gives resources to think media as environmental and worldly in a radical way, prior to being subjective.

21st century media: what makes new forms of media today different from their forebears. Media following shift from past-directed recording platform to data-driven anticipation of the future.

Clip from “Minority Report” (precogs). Clip from “Person of Interest” series (on surveillance).

In “MR” visions of future are interpretable immediately; in “P of I” they only get data but no interpretation.

How digital computer as general platform for media interrupts circuit for media and experience. Has become less benign with Google/Facebook/et al consolidation, data mining for complete bypassing of consciousness.

How to reestablish sensory access to sensibility that is going outside our reach? We must enlist the same technologies that do that for our purposes. Rethink the pharmacology of media (Derrida’s pharmakon, B. Stiegler). Media simultaneously diminish and supplement expressive capacities of humans.

Upside: expanded sensory contact with worldly sensibility recompenses us for loss of traditionally agential human powers.

Whitehead’s process philosophy: affords an ontology of becoming that is neutral re human-nonhuman divide but provides foundation for theorizing human experience for its upside.

ANW’s expansion of process of perception in ‘Process & Reality’: (1) mode of presentational immediacy, (2) mode of causal efficacy (unprecedented in prior philosophy). (2) = vague, fleetingly glimpsable. Distinction fills out perception against broader material background. ANW broadens the scope of what figures into perception. For Massumi, Parisi, Goodman, et al, payoff is capacity to feel thought before it becomes available to sense perception.

This development of ANW is only one of 2 potential developments of ‘causal efficacy.’ CE = nonsensual perception in “Adventures of Ideas”, identified with immediate past of sensory perception, these critics foreclose the more radical implications: the way it opens human life to direct contact with causal efficacy in both modes – worldly sensibility, that can be accessed by means of biometric computational sensing agents. Potential for digital insight on our perception of the world – gives hope for a pharmacological recompense to 21st C media.

2 other implications of ANW that make him the pre-eminent for theorizing 21st C media: (1) potentiality in genesis of the new – betokens a feeling of the future in the present; (2) Whiteheadian model to address temporal predicament, living in a world where data industries can hijack domin of causal efficacy by targeting the present of sensibility in a manner disjoined from emergence of future consciousness & embodiment that it will help to cause.

E.g. Recorded Future (Swedish intelligence company with algorithm-based tech for predicting future events). Client base includes banks, govt agencies, hedge funds. Monitors the likelihood of future event, “allows you to visualize the future.”

Ad clip. (“Never before have you been able to reate a map of the future so easily…”)

It’s a third-generation search engine: examines implicit (“invisible”) links between documents that refer to same entity or event, separates content from aboutness of documents. On basis of references to outside events, establishes meaning between documents. Ranks entities based on factors incl. # of references, credibility, occurrences of events, etc. plus “sentiment evaluation.”

Temporal dynamics analysis: Events yet to happen scored on basis of present knowledge about them. RSS feeds integrates publishing time as an index. REsults in differentially weighted predictions about the future.

Stiegler. No viable future because industrial manufactured source has replaced lived memories. As consequence, our imaginings & expectations are projections of past manufactured, tertiary memories. Protension as projection, vs. Recorded Future.

ANW’s concept that entirety of future is implicated in every cycle of actualization. Every actuality prehends entirety of universe, bizarre as it sounds, is commensensical: every actuality arises on the basis of all that has come before. What’s prehended is potentiality. ‘Extensive continuum’ is real: all actual entities are related. Reality of future is bound up with reality of continuum. What implicates future in present is entirety of causal nexuses; wellspring of real potentiality. Solidarity of the universe.

ANW’s process philosophy as general ontology of probabilistic potentiality (?). Future potentiality as a real power in the actual present.

Recorded Future concretizes ANW: prediction concerns potentiality contained in transition from present to future, a potentiality with ontological power, the mode through which the future is felt in the present.

How to bypass contemporary capitalism: furnish a speculative account of total situation informing genesis of actualities, ANW foregrounds impossibility for any computational system to grapple with all of real potentiality. It’s a crucial check on misguided desire of data industries. Ability to predict future by means of present reference introduces a means for shaping human behavior toward the future (?).

Discussion of “Person of Interest”.

[ai: brain-break, a few minutes lost here]

In face of technical incursions that render the body directly machine-readable, we must embrace the body as a society of micro-sensibilities susceptible to technical capture.

NIA Triage: fMRI machine-hooked-up humans watching screens, neural-based target identification, etc. [fascinating stuff, but for me to hear it I have to stop typing].

Desire to bypass human forms of recognition to direct access of temporal sensibility (target ID, financial trading). Slowness of bodily time can no longer be tolerated.

Nigel Thrift’s account of worlding as following of propensities. Neural & genetic changes take time to impact body, but now technical practices can bring these in as pseudo-sensations and -perceptions. Engineered simulations of experience are offered in place of real.

Humans have no direct access to operation of sensibility. No access to affectivity. Capitalization of [...?] . The space of the missing half-second (Helmholtz) is a technical artifact, a result of a cyborg assemblage.

Political imperative facing media theory.

21st century media directly modulate worldly sensibility itself, shaping sensation before the emergence of bodily self and consciousness. ‘Causal efficacy’ is the relevant operational present in relation to which bodily self and consciousness are still-to-come future emergences.

Media theory must change its object: address the operational present of bodily sensibility. We need a politics of sensibility focusing on power of sensibility to shape future experience.

E.g. Sandy Pentland’s ‘Sociometer’: registers variety of bodily etc data, to make it accessible to consciouisness. Feed-forward structure of experience: presents opportunity to benefit from access to computational microsensing data.

This power remains partially indeterminate. Worlding and precognition both should aim at shaping future on basis of its real potentiality.

Q & A:

Q @ criminalizaion & imprisonment on basis of alleged intention. Following Wikileaks on Twitter can be used against you. What is to be done?  MH: Political activism can be done. [. . .]

Comment @ role of ads; ad-blockers.

Q (Erin Manning) @ Whitehead in “Symbolism”, “causal efficacy” is, e.g., the sit-ability of the chair preceding the dog jumping up on it; “present’l immediacy” is the chair… [more]   MH: Nobo’s reading of potentiality of settled world to give data of what isn’t. [more...]

Q @ Whitehead’s and Harman’s absence at this conference: 2 traces of Harman in talk – (1) moving away from Deleuzian take on ANW, (2) shift of ‘eternal objects’ our of eternity. You’re removing God and the occasionalism of ANW. Harman on Heidegger: actuality higher than potentiality for Harman; MH privileges potentiality over actuality. So MH is doing what GH is with ANW but in an inverse way.

MH: I’ve read Graham but wasn’t thinking of him here. What’s to be gained from making those kinds of comparisons?

Q @ Recorded Future etc.

[I missed some of this one; Hansen spoke too quickly; fatigue set in.]






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