23/2 - Tech | Imaginations

Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 13 of 13
  • Article
    An Early Future of the Internet
    Schröter, Jens (2023)
    The essay on "early Internet futures" reconstructs an episode from the early history of what later would be called "the Internet". It shows which socio-technical imaginations in the early developments at the (D)ARPA Information Processing Techniques Office existed. Two of the most influential ideas will be focused: Firstly, J.C.R. Lickliders early concept of an "intergalactic network" which evolved into, secondly, into his (and Robert Taylor's) famous paper on the computer as a communication device. This shows how new technological developments are connected to socio-technical imaginaries from the very beginning.
  • Article
    Art and Design Vis-à-Vis. The Digitization of Vital Experience
    Borisonik, Hernán (2023)
    This article explores how boundaries between art and design have become increasingly blurred in the digital age, the changing materiality of art, how artists are increasingly involved in tasks of self-design in the service of potential buyers, patrons, and subsidiaries or even taken as free labor on social media platforms. These topics are connected through the consideration of the exhaustion of the model of the world as a complete and apprehensible unity and the purpose of human activity world that entails human beings. The text also maintains that exploitation of cognitive labour is linked to the enormous manipulation by the few actors who manage to set agendas and suggest behaviours. The text has a pendulum- like shape and winds its way through polarities until it finally suggests that there is a hint of utility in all artistic expressions by reconciling the idea of art with utility.
  • Article
    Counter-Futuring the Internet. A Conversation
    Iscen, Özgün Eylül; Miyazaki, Shintaro (2023)
    This paper is not as structured as a conventional paper but a meandering conversation on the topic “The Futures of the Internet” that builds upon the authors’ ongoing collaboration for the project Counter-N, web-based publishing, exchange, and research collection on alternative modes of computing. Our project highlights the entangled trajectories of computing and futuring in the forms of financial speculations, predictive algorithms, or apocalyptic narratives. In opposition, we invite other scholars and practitioners to dig into their potential histories and speculative presents to envision and enact alternative futures of the Internet. Ultimately, our conversation reveals the significance of a spatially and temporally expansive approach for grasping the future trajectory of networked society in its totality as much as within its frictions.
  • Article
    From Mental Models to Algorithmic Imaginaries to Co-Constructive Mental Models
    Schulz, Christian (2023)
    Not only in the course of technological advancements in the fields of machine learning and artificial neural networks in recent years, but also due to an increasingly widespread public debate regarding the regulation and transparency of socalled artificial intelligence, as recently demonstrated by the debates around generative AIs such as ChatGPT or Dall-E, there are increasing demands for the explainability of AI. But almost all work in the field of Explainable AI (XAI) is aimed solely at the perspective of researchers and developers and their intuitions of what constitutes a good explanation. This problematic perspective is also reflected in theoretical concepts important for the development of AI systems, such as the concept of mental models originating from cognitive science. As part of a coconstructive XAI research, and based on two central texts by Kenneth Craik and Donald Norman, this paper aims to argue for a reconceptualization of such models, widely received in computer science and human-computer interaction, using the media cultural studies concept of algorithmic imaginaries, and to point out future lines of research.
  • Article
    Futures of Reality. Virtual, Augmented, Synthetic
    Wellner, Galit (2023)
    This article starts with Nozick's thought experiment of the experience machine and examines how the negative stance towards such a machine has changed so that virtual reality (VR) technologies and the recently announced metaverse are considered as positive developments. Three genealogical steps are identified: postmodernism through Baudrillard's notion of simulacra; posthumanism as defined by Hayles and her observations regarding the move from the presence/ absence dichotomy to pattern/noise dialectic; and Ihde's postphenomenology, including later theoretical developments that assign intentionality to technologies, especially augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI). This analysis suggests that the metaverse cannot be classified as VR or AR but instead can be framed as "reverse AR" in which real people meet in an imagined space. The genealogy can help us frame metaverse's challenges from deep fake to free will. Nozik's critique regarding the lack of free will in the experience machine returns today as relevant and acute.
  • Article
    On (Techno-)Imagination, Schemata and Media – Preliminary Remarks
    Ernst, Christoph (2023)
    The text deals with the connection between imagination and media by focusing on the notion of 'techno-imagination'. The problem of the 'schema' is identified as the connecting element between classical theories of imagination and media theory. In an essayistic passage through arguments by Immanuel Kant, Charles S. Peirce, and Cornelius Castoriadis, three different approaches to the relationship between imagination and schema are discussed and then related to Vilém Flusser's notion of techno-imagination. The text concludes with an exposition of further research questions. It is argued that for a contemporary theory of 'media imagination', the relationship between the constitution of semiotic representation and computer-based media-synthetization needs to be analyzed.
  • Article
    Overcoming Modernity? How China’s Splinternet Reinforces the Impact of Geography in Global Internet Governance
    Bogen, Cornelia (2023)
    According to the Chinese philosopher and information scientist Yuk Hui, China's rapid modernization within the last decades put China on equal footing with the West not only regarding its technological level, but also concerning people's technological unconsciousness (i.e., ignorance of the fact that our existence is conditioned by technology), belief in progress, and destructive relation to nature. At the same time, with the emergence of the Anthropocene, humankind has gradually come to realize that our modern ontological interpretations of the cosmos have distanced us from our environment. The ongoing platformization of societies and datafication follows the rule of natural laws in every area of life and poses the risk that humans are losing control over new technologies. Against that backdrop, this paper seeks to explore whether China’s past and present policy approach to domestic and global internet governance has enabled it to “adopt the global time axis as [its] own” to overcome modernity, without relapsing into a modern dualism between human beings and nature (cf. Hui 2020). First, I will show that China’s national digital policy and cyber sovereignty approach to internet development has led to a “splinternet” that a) shifts the burden of social governance from state authorities to other stakeholders, b) introduces market economy principles to digital capitalism and c) instills socialist values into internet regulation. However, none of these measures have helped to cultivate a technological consciousness that resists the pressures of technological modernization and worldwide military and economic competition. Second, while reconstructing the Chinese perspective on global internet governance, I will demonstrate how China currently aims at reforming the internet through its expansion of high-tech products and infrastructure abroad, and active participation in international cyberspace regulation. Third, I depict what a splinternet divided along geographic, political and economic boundaries might look like, if China and the US continue to instrumentalize global internet governance as a technological and ideological competition between two different political systems. Hence, while Hui considers modernity and de-modernization from the perspective of a global axis of time, I argue that it is also a question of space: the two cyber powers seek to return geography to the global cyberspace, which may risk further splintering the internet. To create a genuine community and shared future in both physical and cyber space, further development of digital technologies must overcome the ideological contest, address the most urgent questions of the twenty- first century, and consider different cosmotechnics to ensure a morally and ethically sound technology governance.
  • Journal Issue
    Tech | Imaginations
    These imaginations reveal a lot of the political and ideological self-descriptions of societies, hence the (techno-)imaginary also functions as a kind of epistemic tool. Concepts of the imaginary therefore have experienced an increasing attention in cultural theory and the social sciences in recent years. In particular, work from political philosophy, but also approaches from science and technology studies (STS) or communication and media studies are worth mentioning here. The term "techno-imagination", coined by Vilém Flusser in the early 1990s, refers to the close interconnection of (digital) media and imaginations, whose coupling can not only be understood as a driver of future technology via fictional discourses (e.g. science fiction), but much more fundamentally also as a constitutive element of society and sociality itself, as Castoriadis has argued. In the first part of the issue several theoretical contributions add new aspects to the discussion of socio-technical imaginaries, while in the second part a workshop held in January 2022 at the CAIS in Bochum is documented, in which the case of the imaginaries of “Future Internets” was discussed.
  • Article
    Tech | Imaginations. Introduction
    Schulz, Chrisitan; Schröter, Jens (2023)
  • Article
    Techno-Imaginations of a Nuclear Regime. How a Power Plant Became a Proxy Bomb
    Jelewska, Agnieszka; Krawczak, Michal (2023)
    The article analyzes the techno-imaginations of the nuclear regime as interdependencies between nuclear and media infrastructures (Parks and Starosielski), the policies, and forms of cultural mutations generated by them (Derrida, Kerckhove, Masco). The article discusses the actions of the destruction of nuclear infrastructure by the Russian army in 2022-2023 during the war in Ukraine, which led to the use of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant as a proxy bomb. At the same time, it shows how media are designed under the nuclear regime and produce visions of the future as tools to neutralize critical discourse. The text indicates cultural and media activities – such as narratives produced around the 75th anniversary of the nuclear industry in Russia – which were used to generate nuclear visions of the future and to remediate resentment towards past nuclear imperialism. We put forward the thesis that one of the most important cultural consequences of the entanglement of the nuclear industry with the media and the narratives generated by it are new forms of weaponization of civilian nuclear infrastructure and a new topological figure of time in which the present is minimized to strengthen the future and the past. This onto-technological dependence generates new forms of atomized memory in which the past is justified by the pursuit of a sustainable nuclear future, the facts of the present are displaced, and the negative aspects of nuclear accelerationism are neutralized.
  • Article
    Techno-Nomos, Ontology, and the Imaginary. From CCRU to Luciana Parisi
    Hüttemann, Felix (2023)
    This article deals with a perspective of software- and algorithm-theory that implies a techimaginary, which is characterized by disputes about technological sovereignty, and is focused on a nomos of technology. The problem is, on the one hand, the origin of this theory from decisionist topoi and, on the other hand, its inherent apocalypticism and cultural critique. In this context, an engagement with technology in terms of a pessimistic futurity is imagined, which is applied to a posthuman autonomy of technology. This, I would like to discuss here as technonomos. In the following, a brief classificationof the term will be used in order to try to approach the further topoi in the following sections, in Benjamin Bratton's nomos of the cloud, in the teleoplexy and cyberpositivity of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU), and in Luciana Parisi’s examinations of algorithmic architecture and instrumentality.
  • Article
    The Ends of the Internet. A Discussion
    Heidersberger, Benjamin; van Treeck, Jan Claas (2023)
    In their discussion, Benjamin Heidersberger and Jan Claas van Treeck critically engage with the historical and ideological trajectory of the internet. They foreground three geopolitical spheres of influence shaping today's internet: the US, Europe, and China, each manifesting distinct socio-cultural values, technological infrastructures, and regulatory attitudes. Central to their discussion is the concept of 'territorialization' and 'anti-territorialization', illustrated through the national and international censorship cases vis-a-vis border-transcending aspirations of the internet founders-generation and currently Starlink. Anticipating a contested future, they posit a metaphorical arms race between control and resistance within the digital sphere, a splintering of the internet into a cyber-balkan of internets - considering the implications of these shifts for wider academic discourses on resistance, commoning, and decolonization.
  • Article
    The Specters of (Sociotechnical) Imaginaries. Oppressed Futures of the Past
    Doll, Martin (2023)
    In my article I want to argue for a shift in focus in Media Studies when thinking about sociotechnical imaginaries, a concept prominently developed by Sheila Jasanoff and Sang-Hyun Kim. Whereas this concept is often used to think in rather sociological large scales—a society, a culture as a whole—I would like to provide a more humanities-specific small-scale approach with a strong emphasis on heterogeneities and ambivalences and with a focus on sociotechnical imaginaries from the past. First, I will elaborate on the (political) blind spots of thinking in rather large-scales (even if this is sometimes only implicitly articulated in the key sources). Second, I will develop a sketch of a methodology for analyzing sociotechnical imaginaries on a smaller scale by reference to the concept of »memory cultures«, and particularly to »storage memory» and »functional memories« founded by Aleida Assmann and further developed in terms of pluralities by Astrid Erll. And, third, I will outline the political implications of this media archaeology of sociotechnical imaginaries in the present. Can we understand these imaginaries with Derrida as specters that haunt us, as specters of past political futures connected to media technologies that remind us of what is no longer and what is not yet?