Benjamin Bratton — The Stack: Design and Geopolitics in the Age of Planetary-Scale Computing

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From NSA surveillance to Jihadist social media and the Sino-Google Wars, computation has become more than a type of machine, it is a global infrastructure that is changing not only how governments govern, but what government even is in the first place. We need to take a step back and see the big picture that is different from what was predicted. A new kind of political geography is emerging before our eyes. We should view smart grids, cloud computing, mobile software and smart cities, universal addressing systems, ubiquitous computing and robotics not as unrelated genres of computation but as forming a larger and coherent whole. Together they constitute an accidental megastructure called The Stack. This is not only a planetary-scale computing system, it is also a new architecture for how we divide up the world into sovereign spaces. The Nation-State isn't going away but it is evolving into a Cloud platform (and perhaps vice versa). This poses extraordinary challenges for design and geopolitics. By seeing the whole we stand a better chance of designing a system we will want to inhabit. In this talk, Benjamin Bratton maps The Stack we have and sketches The Stack-to-come.
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