Benjamin H. Bratton: Book Launch & Presentation of "The Stack"

W.M. Keck Lecture Hall

April 13, 2016 at 7:00pm

What has planetary-scale computation done to our geopolitical realities? It takes different forms at different scales—from energy and mineral sourcing and subterranean cloud infrastructure to urban software and massive universal addressing systems; from interfaces drawn by the augmentation of the hand and eye to users identified by self—quantification and the arrival of legions of sensors, algorithms, and robots. Together, how do these distort and deform modern political geographies and produce new territories in their own image?


In his book The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, Benjamin Bratton proposes that these different genres of computation—smart grids, cloud platforms, mobile apps, smart cities, the Internet of Things, automation—can be seen not as so many species evolving on their own, but as forming a coherent whole: an accidental mega-structure called The Stack that is both a computational apparatus and a new governing architecture.

The Stack is an interdisciplinary design brief for a new geopolitics that works with and for planetary-scale computation. Interweaving the continental, urban, and perceptual scales, it shows how we can better build, dwell within, communicate with, and govern our worlds.

Benjamin H. Bratton is a theorist whose work spans Political Philosophy, Computer Science, Art and Design. He is Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego. He is also Professor of Digital Design at The European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland and Visiting Professor at SCI-Arc. He has two books: The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press, 2016) and Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution (e-flux/Sternberg, 2015), a collection of short fictional texts on architecture and political violence. Bratton's current book project develops a critical design philosophy for synthetic sensing and machine intelligence.