Benjamin Bratton is a writer whose work spans Philosophy, Computer Science and Geopolitics. He is Professor of Philosophy of Technology and Speculative Design at the University of California, San Diego. He is Director of antikythera, a think-tank on the speculative philosophy of computation at the Berggruen Institute. He is also a Professor of Digital Design at The European Graduate School and Visiting Professor at SCI_Arc (The Southern California Institute of Architecture) and NYU Shanghai.
He is the author of several books, including The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press, 2016. 503 pages) Bratton outlines a new geopolitical theory for the age of global computation and algorithmic governance. He proposes that different genres of planetary scale computation --Earth layer, Cloud layer, City layer, Address layer, Interface layer, User layer-- can be seen not as so many species evolving on their own, but as forming a coherent whole: an accidental megastructure that is both a computational infrastructure and a new governing architecture. The book plots an expansive interdisciplinary design brief for The Stack-to-Come. See MIT Press Table of Contents Amazon
The Revenge of The Real: Politics for a Post-Pandemic World (Verso Press, 2021. 166 pages), which sees the COVID-19 pandemic as a crisis of political imagination and capacity in the West and in response argues on behalf of a positive biopolitics. It frames the pandemic as an involuntary experiment in comparative governance, one that demonstrates the failures of populism and the need for an epidemiological view of society based on sensing, modeling and collective organization. The book examines the complexities of sensing vs. “surveillance”, quarantine urbanism and platform automation, the mask wars and the ethics of the object, and the failure of philosophy to properly address the crisis. It calls for a new politics of rational and equitable infrastructures of knowledge, planning and intervention. See Verso Amazon
The Terraforming (Strelka Press, 2019. 127 pages)is is a manifesto for The Terraforming urban design research programme at the Strelka Institute in Moscow. It is a narrowly targeted polemic against dominant modes of planetarity and a rejoinder to inadequacies seen in how critical philosophy and design seeks to confront them. "The Terraforming" is the comprehensive project to fundamentally transform Earth's cities, technologies, and ecosystems to ensure that the planet will be capable of supporting Earth-like life. Artificiality, astronomy, and automation form the basis of that alternative planetarity. Planetarity itself comes into focus through orbiting imagining and terrestrial modeling technologies --satellites, sensors, servers in sync-- that have made it possible to measure climate change with any confidence. The books explores a renewed Copernican turn, and how the technologically mediated shift away from anthropocentric perspectives is crucially necessary in both theory and practice.
The New Normal and The Terraforming were speculative urbanism think-tanks invenstigating alternative futures of cities as planetary technologies. Over five and a half year, the 175 researchers came from over 30 countries and together produced over 50 original projects exploring the conjunction of emerging technologies and geopolitical shifts. The work was based on mulitple research themes: platform aesthetics, emergent economics, human-exclusion zones, alphavilles, algorithmic governance, pattern recognition, inverse uncanny valleys, synthetic sensing, etc. The initiative of the independent private cultural instiution, Strelka Institute in Moscow ran from 2016-21 and closed at the start the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The collected work of The New Normal program is collected in the book, The New Normal , co-edited by Benjamin Bratton, Nicolay Boyadjiev, and Nick Axel (Strelka Press, Park Books, 2021. 548 pages)
Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution (e-flux/ Sternberg Press, 2015. 196 pages) is a collection of short fictions on architecture and political violence. The book weaves fact and fiction to dramatize the symmetries and complicities between designed violence and the violence of design: their plots, schemes, utopias and dystopias. See dppflc.io Table of Contents Amazon
His current research project, Theory and Design in the Age of Machine Intelligence, is on the unexpected and uncomfortable design challenges posed by A.I in various guises: from machine vision to synthetic cognition and sensation, and the macroeconomics of robotics to everyday geoengineering.
Upcoming and Recent
* "On The Terraforming", PLANETARIUM series, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France. December 16, 2021.
* Containing Contagion lecture series, Yonsei University, Incheon, South Korea. December 8, 2021.
* Closing Keynote, Digital Capitalism confernece, FEPS, Brussels, Belgium. November 19, 2021.
* Keynote, ACADIA conference, Toward Critical Computation in Architecture. November 4, 2021.
* Visiting Winter Seminar, Faculty of Architecture, University of Innsbruck, Austria. October-December, 2021.
* Lecture series, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain. October 28, 2021.
* Discussion with Quifan Chen, NYU Shanghai Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Culture. October 22, 2021.
* Dissussion with Audrey Tang, Gray Area Festival, San Francisco, California. October 21, 2021.
* "Automation and Ecology" Flyover Summit. October 21, 2021.
* The Aesthetics Seminar, University of Oslo, Norway. October 15, 2021.
* "The Artificial and the Synthetic" Keynote at Unsound Festival, Kraków, Poland. October 13, 2021.
* Keynote, M100 Sanssouci Colloquium. Potsdam, Germany. October 6, 2021.
* Presentation of The Terraforming year three at Strelka Institute. September 13, 2021.
* "A Planetary Nomos" Conversation with Lukas Likavcan, New Centre for Research and Practice. August 25, 2021.
* Keynote (+ discussion w/ Orit Halpern), MUTEK Forum. Montreal, Canada. August 24, 2021.
* New York City. August 6-12.
* Berlin Questions (w/ Hito Steyerl) Berlin, Germany. August 11, 2021.
* Belgrade, Serbia. July 20-31.
* The Terraforming year two, final projects showcase. July 28-29, 2021.
* Electric Summer School. The Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Poland. July 23, 2021.
* "Until Proven Safe" Book launch discussion with Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley at Strelka, Moscow. July 15, 2021.
* "The Revenge of The Real" Book launch discussion with Nick Srnicek at Housmans, London. June 30, 2021
Recent and Selected Videos
"Conversation with Bruce Sterling"
"Interview: On The Stack" SCI-Arc Channel
"The Stack We Have, The Stack To Come"
"We Need to Talk About TED"
"The Black Stack"
"A.I. and Cities: Platform Design, Algorithmic Reason and Urban Geopolitics"
"The Politics of Platform Technologies"
"The Sprawl"(by Metahaven)
Selected Recent Articles, Interviews, etc.
* Planetary Sapience in Noéma magazine.
* Agamben, WTF, or How Philosophy Failed the Pandemic Verso Blog. (French) (Portuguese)
* Hidden Forces podcast
* Touchlessness e-flux architecture.
* „Corona war eine Krise, unsere Reaktionen waren ebenso eine Katastrophe“ interview in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
* Further Trace Effects of the Post-Anthropocene in AD: Machine Landscapes: Architectures of the Post-Anthropocene, ed. Liam Young (PDF)
* On Anthropolysis in Superhumanity: Design of the Self, ed. Axel, Colomina, Hirsch, Vidolke, Wigley.
* Hemispherical Stacks: On Multipolar Geopolitics and Planetary-Scale Computation "As We May Think, Feedforward" catalogue, 6th Guangzhou Triennial.
* So Heavy Grasshoppers: Allochthonous Notes on Populism in Para-Platforms: On the Spatial Politics of Right-Wing Populism, ed. Markus Miessen, Zoë Ritts.
* Music for Car Alarms: 1998-2008 Tank Magazine.
* The City Wears Us: Notes on the Scope of Distributed Sensing and Sensation The Glass Bead journal.
* Can the Bot Speak? The Paranoid Voice in Conversational UI in Accross & Beyond: A Transmediale Reader, ed. Bishop, Gansing, Parikka, Wilk.
* For You/ Not For You: On Representation and Machine Vision in Size Matters! (De)Growth of the 21st Century Art Museum, ed. Beatrix Ruf, John Slyce.
* 2018: The Year According to Benjamin H. Bratton Walker Art Center.
* The Wandering Scales of Machine and Idea in On Air: Tomás Seraceno, catalogue, Palais de Tokyo.
* Geographies of Sensitive Matter: On Artificial Intelligence at Urban Scale in New Geographies: Posthuman. (PDF)
* Notes on Extinction in Extinctly, Serpentine Galleries.
* On Speculative Design dis magazine/ The Time Complex: Postcontemporary
* Outing A.I.: Beyond the Turing Test (New York Times) Expanded version in Alleys of Your Mind: Artificial Intelligence and its Traumas (PDF)
* The Black Stack e-flux journal
* The Stack and the Post-Human User: Interview Het Nieuwe Institut, Rotterdam
* Machine Vision: Interview dis magazine
* The Role of Megastructure in the Eschatology of John Frum: On OMA's Master Plan for the Spratly Islands e-flux journal