ELEMENTS OF A PHILOSOPHY OF TECHNOLOGY
launch event at New York University
featuring John Durham Peters and Lisa Gitelman
Jeffrey West Kirkwood and Leif Weatherby
Jan 29, 2019
from 06:00 PM to 07:30 PM
Center for the Humanities, 20 Cooper Square, Fifth Floor, New York, NY 10003
A recent report from MIT announces the arrival of a new metaphysical player in the game of business: data capital. This new form of wealth violates not only the tenets of liberal political economy, but also those of traditional ontology. Data are “non-rivalrous,” meaning they can be copied at virtually no marginal cost and used simultaneously by multiple agents without detriment to their enjoyment. When information becomes capital, capitalism hovers in the negative space between Hegel and Marx. The metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties of data capital are hard to miss. This talk traces the origins of data capital to the work of cybernetics founder Warren McCulloch and economist Friedrich Hayek, who borrowed heavily from German Idealism in providing the basis for the new economy. When data is capital, dialectics becomes the form of capitalism—and issues a challenge to rethink the work of critique.