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Public lecture by Dr Sun-ha Hong: Predictions Without Futures

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Predictions Without Futures

Public lecture by Dr Sun-ha Hong

Our dominant technological futures help maintain decrepit horizons of the social. As Brecht once observed: "I stood on a hill and I saw the Old approaching, but it came as the New." Prediction supplies a powerful conceptual model for this dynamic of stasis through disruption by connecting technical and mythological attitudes of probabilistic control. I trace some throughlines between the technical conceit of predictivity (that criminality or emotion can be anticipated through data-driven modeling) and the mythological use of prediction (where history is an extrapolation of known technological advancements). Drawing from theories of ritual and experiment, I examine the demonstrative, belief-building work that prediction does - from 18th century automata to Amazon warehouses, from Marvin Minsky to the Year 10,000. What we call "tech" today serves as a legitimising function for capital, and crucial to this function is the active foreclosure of any political future other than more of the same. 

5:30pm - Reception
6:00pm - Lecture 

Sun-ha Hong examines forms of uncertainty, doubt and belief around surveillance, smart machines & AI. He is Assistant Professor in Communication at Simon Fraser University, Canada, and was previously Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at MIT. Sun-ha is the author of Technologies of Speculation: The Limits of Knowledge in a Data-Driven Society (2020), and is working on his next book, Predictions Without Futures.

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