© 2016 - 2018 | Privacy Policy | Imprint
Dossiers
Authors
  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan
  • Babak Afrassiabi
    • Babak Afrassiabi is an artist who works both in Iran and the Netherlands. Since 2004, he has collaborated with Nasrin Tabatabai on various joint projects and the publication of the bilingual magazine Pages (Farsi and English). Their work seeks to articulate the undecidable space between art and its historical conditions, including the recurring question of the place of the archive in defining the juncture between politics, history, and the practice of art. The artists’ work has been presented internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and they have been tutors at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2008–13), and Erg, école supérieure des arts, Brussels (2015–).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • S. Ayesha Hameed
    • Dr. S. Ayesha Hameed is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures and the Joint Programme Leader in Fine Art and History of Art Research Fellow in Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, London. She received her PhD in Social and Political Thought at York University, Canada in 2008
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Sammy Baloji
  • Subhankar Banerjee
  • On Barak
    • On Barak is a social and cultural historian of science and technology in non-Western settings. He has been a senior lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University since 2012. Prior to this, he was a member of the Princeton Society of Fellows. In 2009, Barak received a joint PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from New York University. His most recent book is On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt (University of California Press, 2013), and his current publication project, Coalonialism: Energy and Empire before the Age of Oil, is funded by a European Union Marie Curie Award and an Israel Science Foundation Grant.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Anil Bawa-Cavia
    • Anil Bawa-Cavia is a computer scientist with a background in machine learning. He runs STDIO, a speculative software studio. His practice engages with algorithms, protocols, encodings, and other software artifacts and his doctoral research at the Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London was on complex networks in urbanism. He is a founding member of Call & Response, a sonic arts collective and gallery space in London, and a member of the New Centre for Research & Practice.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Etienne Benson
  • Josh Berson
  • Jeremy Bolen
  • Benjamin Bratton
    • for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow. Bratton is also Professor of Digital Design at the Eur
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Axel Braun
    • Axel Braun studied photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, and fine arts at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. His artistic research deals with controversial infrastructure projects, tautology as an attempt to understand reality, and failed utopias in art and architecture. Currently, he is pursuing the long-term project Towards an Understanding of Anthropocene Landscapes. Recently exhibited works include Some Kind of Opposition (2016) at Galeria Centralis, Budapest, and Dragonflies drift downstream on a river (2015) at Kunstmuseum Bochum.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Keith Breckenridge
  • François Bucher
    • s, focusing on ethical and aesthetic problems of cinema and television, and more recently on the image as an interdimensional field. His work has been exhibited at
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Lino Camprubí
  • Zachary Caple
  • Ele Carpenter
    • Dr. Ele Carpenter is a senior lecturer in curating at Goldsmiths, London. Her curatorial practice responds to interdisciplinary socio-political contexts such as the nuclear economy and the relationship between craft and code.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Andrew Chubb
    • Andrew Chubb is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia conducting research on the relationship between Chinese public opinion and government policy in the South China Sea. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Contemporary China, Pacific Affairs, East Asia Forum, and Information, Communication & Society. His blog, South Sea Conversations (southseaconversations.wordpress.com), provides translations and analysis of Chinese discourse on the South and East China Sea issues.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Louis Chude-Sokei
    • Louis Chude-Sokei is a writer and scholar currently teaching in the English Department at the University of Washington, Seattle. His academic interests range from West African, Caribbean, and American literary and cultural studies to a particular focus on sound, technology, and performance. His literary and public work focuses on immigration and black-on-black cultural contacts, conflicts, and exchanges. Chude-Sokei is the author of the award-winning book The Last “Darky”: Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora (2006) and The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics (2016).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Claire Colebrook
    • Claire Colebrook is a professor of English at Penn State University. Her areas of specialization are contemporary literature, visual culture, and theory and cultural studies. She has written articles on poetry, literary theory, queer theory, and contemporary culture. Colebrook is the co-editor of the series Critical Climate Change, published by Open Humanities Press, and a member of the advisory board of the Institute for Critical Climate Change. She recently completed two books on extinction for Open Humanities Press, Death of the PostHuman and Sex after Life (both 2014), and with Tom Cohen and J. Hillis Miller co-authored Twilight of the Anthropocene Idols (2016).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Ana Dana Beroš
    • chitect and curator focused on creating uncertain, fragile environments that catalyze social chan
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Pietro Daniel Omodeo
  • Rana Dasgupta
  • Filip De Boeck
    • Filip De Boeck is actively involved in teaching, promoting, coordinating and supervising research in and on Africa at the Institute for Anthropological research in Africa at the U
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Seth Denizen
    • Seth Denizen is a researcher and design practitioner trained in landscape architecture and evolutionary biology. Since completing research on the sexual behavior and evolutionary ecology of small Trinidadian fish, his work has focused on the aesthetics of scientific representation, madness, and public parks, the design of t
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Rohini Devasher
  • Jonathan Donges
    • Jonathan Donges is a postdoctoral researcher who holds a joint position at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (as Stordalen Scholar) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He studies planetary boundaries and social dynamics in the Earth system from a complex dynamical system perspective. At Potsdam, he is Co-head of the flagship COPAN (Coevolutionary Pathways) project (www.pik-potsdam.de/copan). His published research includes work on complex network theory, dynamical systems theory, and time series analysis, with a focus on their application to our understanding of past and present climate variability and its interactions with humankind on planet Earth.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Keller Easterling
  • Anna Echterhölter
  • David Edgerton
    • David Edgerton is Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and a professor of modern British history at King’s College London. After teaching at the University of Manchester, he became the founding director of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at Imperial College London (1993–2003), and moved along with the centre to King’s College London in August 2013. He is the author of many works, including The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900 (2007), which argues for and exemplifies new ways of thinking about the material constitution of modernity.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Technosphere Editorial
  • Sasha Engelmann
  • Lois Epstein
    • stein is Arctic Program Director at the Wilderness Society an American land conservation non-profit. A licensed engineer, she has served on a number of federal advisory committees, including a National Academy of Sciences committee studying oil and gas regulations, and, for twelve years, a committee focusing on oil pipeline safety. Epstein holds a Master of Civil Engineering with a specialization in environme
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Eberhard Faust
  • Jennifer Gabrys
    • Jennifer Gabrys is Reader in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Principal Investigator on the ERC-funded project, "Citizen Sense." Her publications include Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics (University of Michigan Press, 2011); and Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Elaine Gan
  • Oliver Gantner
  • Florian Goldmann
    • Florian Goldmann is a Berlin-based artist and a PhD candidate at the DFG Research Training Center Visibility and Visualisation – Hybrid Forms of Pictorial Knowledge as well as at the Brandenburg Center for Media Studies, both Potsdam University. His research focus is the utilization of models as a means of both commemorating and predicting catastrophe. In 2015, he took part in the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan. Goldmann is one of the founders of the research collective STRATAGRIDS and the author of Flexible Signposts to Coded Territories (2012), an analysis of football hooligan graffiti in Athens as a system of fluid signage.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Mark Graham
  • Jacques Grinevald
  • Johan Gärdebo
    • Johan Gärdebo is a PhD candidate at the Royal Institute of Technology affiliated to the Environmental Humanities Laboratory (EHL). H
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Orit Halpern
    • Orit Halpern is a Strategic Hire in Interactive Design and an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal. Her work bridges the histories of science, computing, and cybernetics with design and art practice. She is also a co-director of the Speculative Life Research Cluster, Montreal, a laboratory situated at the intersection of art and life sciences, architecture and design, and computational media (www.speculativelife.com). Her recent monograph, Beautiful Data (2015), is a history of interactivity, data visualization, and ubiquitous computing. www.orithalpern.net
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Gerda Heck
  • Carola Hein
    • Carola Hein is a professor of the history of architecture and urban planning in the Architecture Department at Delft University of Technology. She has published widely on topics in contemporary and historical architectural and urban planning, notably that of Europe and Japan. Her current research interests include transmission of architectural and urban ideas along international networks, focusing specifically on port cities, and the global architecture of oil. Her books include Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks (2011), Cities, Autonomy, and Decentralization in Japan (2006), and The Capital of Europe: Architecture and Urban Planning for the European Union (2004).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Julian Henriques
    • Julian Henriques is the convener of the MA in Script Writing and Director of the Topology Research Unit in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. Prior to this, he ran the film and television department at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. His credits as a writer and director include the reggae musical feature film Babymother (1998) and as a sound artist, Knots & Donuts, exhibited at Tate Modern in 2011. Henriques researches street cultures and technologies and his publications include Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation, and Subjectivity (1998), Sonic Bodies: Reggae Sound Systems, Performance Techniques, and Ways of Knowing (2011), and Sonic Media (forthcoming).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Hanna Husberg
    • Hanna Husberg is a Stockholm-based artist. She graduated from ENSB-A in Paris in 2007 and is currently a PhD in Practice candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Sabine Höhler
  • Erich Hörl
  • Timothy Johnson
  • Peter K. Haff
  • Bernd Kasparek
  • Laleh Khalili
  • Alexander Klose
    • Dr. Alexander Klose studied History, Law, Philosophy, Art, and Cultural Studies. From 2005-07 he held a scholarship at Bauhaus Universität Weimar for his PhD project on standardized containers used in transport as one of the leading material media in the 20th century. Between 2009 and 2014 he worked as a research associate and programme developer at Kulturstiftung des Bundes. In 2015 in the forefront of COP 21, he co-curated Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge No. 18 – On Becoming Earthlings: 150 dialogues and exercises in shrinking and expanding the Human at Musée de l'Homme, Paris. His latest publication is: The Container Principle. How a box changes the way we think (2015).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Karin Knorr Cetina
  • Scott Knowles
  • Nile Koetting
  • Nicole Koltick
    • Nicole Koltick is an assistant professor in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She is Founding Director of the Design Futures Lab at Westphal College, which is currently pursuing design research to stimulate debate on the potential implications of emerging technological and scientific developments within society. Koltick’s practice spans art, science, technology, design, and philosophy, and current work focuses on the philosophical, material, and relational implications of aesthetics as they intersect with emerging developments in computational creativity, artificially intelligent autonomous systems, robotics, and synthetic biological hybrids.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Nik Kosmas
  • Matthijs Kouw
    • Matthijs Kouw joined the Rathenau Instituut, The Hague, in March 2016. He holds an MA in Philosophy and an MSc in Science and Technology Studies from the University of Amsterdam as well as a PhD from Maastricht University. In his PhD thesis, Kouw describes how and to what extent reliance on models can introduce vulnerabilities through the assumptions, uncertainties, and blind spots concomitant with modeling practice. He was employed as a postdoctoral researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), during which time he acted as a member of the Dutch delegation for plenary sessions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Matija Kralj
  • Kei Kreutler
  • Lars Kulik
    • Lars Kulik studied biology at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He received his doctorate on the development of social behavior of rhesus monkeys at the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. He lives with his family in Berlin.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Richard L. Hindle
    • Richard L. Hindle is an assistant professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning at the University of California, Berkeley. His current research focuses on patent innovation in landscape related technologies, from large-scale mappings of riverine and coastal systems to detailed historical studies on the antecedents of vegetated architecture. His work explores the potential of new technological narratives and material processes to reframe theory, practice, and the production of landscape. Recent works include the articles “Levees That Might Have Been” (2015), and “Infrastructures of Innovation” in Scaling Infrastructure (MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism, 2016), and the exhibition Geographies of Innovation at UC Berkeley (2015).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Brian Larkin
  • Bruno Latour
  • John Law
    • hn Law was a professor of sociology at Keele University, Lancaster, and the Open University, Milton Keynes, and a co-director of the Economic and Social Researc
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Esther Leslie
    • t theories of aesthetics and culture, with a particular focus on the work of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. It deals with the poetics of science, European literary and visual modern
    • 1
      published contributions
  • S. Løchlann Jain
  • Donald MacKenzie
  • Chowra Makaremi
  • Annapurna Mamidipudi
  • Laura McLean
    • Laura McLean is a curator, artist, and writer based in London. She is a graduate of Goldsmiths College and Sydney College of the Arts, where she later lectured. She has also studied at Alberta College of Art and Design, and the Universität der Künste Berlin.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Eden Medina
    • Eden Medina is an associate professor of informatics and computing, affiliated associate professor of law, and adjunct associate professor of history at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research and teaching address the social, historical, and legal dimensions of our increasingly data-driven world, including the relationship of technology to human rights and free expression, the relationship between political innovation and technological innovation, and the ways that human and political values shape technological design. Medina’s writings also use science and technology as a way to broaden understandings of Latin American history and the geography of innovation. She is the author of Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile (2011) and the co-editor of Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America (2014).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Anne-Sophie Milon
    • Anne-Sophie Milon is an artist and a freelance illustrator and animator working and living in Bristol, UK. After completing two Masters in Art, she has recently concluded the program of experimentation in Art and Politics at SciencesPo (SPEAP) in Paris.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Gerald Nestler
    • Gerald Nestler is an artist and writer who combines theory and post-disciplinary conversation with video, installation, performance, text, code, graphics, sound, and speech. He explores what he calls the derivative condition of contemporary social relations and its paradigmatic financial models, operations, processes, narratives, and fictions. He is currently working on an “aesthetics of resolution” that maps counterfictions and counterimaginations for “renegade activism,” which revolves around the demonstration as a combined artistic, technological, social, and political practice. Nestler holds a practice-based PhD from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Daniel Niles
    • terial, millenary and momentary—that their knowledge takes, and, finally, the significance of this experience to our understanding of t
    • 1
      published contributions
  • James P. M. Syvitski
    • James P. M. Syvitski is Executive Director of the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS) at the University of Colorado Boulder. From 2011 to 2016, he chaired the International Council for Science’s International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), which provides essential scientific leadership and knowledge of the Earth system to help guide society toward a sustainable pathway during rapid global change. His specialty is the global flux of water and sediment (river and ocean borne) and its trends in the Anthropocene. He works at the forefront of computational geosciences, including sediment transport, land-ocean interactions, and Earth-surface dynamics.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Luciana Parisi
    • Luciana Parisi is Reader in Cultural Theory, Chair of the PhD program in Cultural Studies, and Co-director of the Digital Culture Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research focuses on cybernetics, information theory and computation, complexity and evolutionary theories, and the technocapitalist investment in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. Her books include Abstract Sex: Philosophy, Biotechnology and the Mutations of Desire (2004) and Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space (2013). She is currently researching the history of automation and the philosophical consequences of logical thinking in machines.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Lisa Parks
  • Matteo Pasquinelli
  • Karen Pinkus
    • w York. She is also a faculty fellow of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Ithaca. Author of numerous publications in literary studies, Italian studies, critical theory, and environmental humanities, Pinkus is also Editor of the journal Diacritics. In her latest book, Fuel (2016), Pinkus thinks about issues crucial to climate ch
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Giulia Rispoli
  • Sophia Roosth
    • t when researchers are building new biological systems in order to investigate how biology works. She holds a PhD from the Massachuse
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Arno Rosemarin
  • Rafico Ruiz
    • afico Ruiz is Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. He studies the relationships between mediation and social space, particularly in the Arctic and subarctic; the cultural geographies of natural resource engagements; and
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Kim Rygiel
    • f International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada. Her research focuses on border security, migration, and citizenship in North America and Europe. She investigates how citizens and non-citizens engage in citizenship practices and challenge notions
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Dorion Sagan
  • Isabelle Saint-Saëns
  • Birgit Schneider
  • Sever
    • SEVER was developed as a speculative design project by Francesco Sebregondi, Alexey Platonov, Inna Pokazanyeva, and Ildar Iakubov during the New Normal postgraduate program at Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow. SEVER seeks to intervene into current Arctic debates by disturbing the landscape of the region’s possible futures
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Jens Soentgen
  • Nick Srnicek
  • Lizzie Stark
    • Lizzie Stark is an author, journalist, and experience designer. She is the author of two books, Pandora’s DNA (2014), exploring so-called ‘breast cancer genes’ and her first book, Leaving Mundania (2012), which investigates the subculture of live action role play, or larp. Her journalism and essays have appeared in The Washington Post, the Daily Beast, The Today Show Website, io9, Fusion, the Philadelphia Inquirer and elsewhere. She holds an MS from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has organized numerous conventions and experiences across the US. Her most recent work is as a programming coordinator for Living Games Austin, and as co-editor and contributor for the #Feminism anthology, which collects 34 nano-games written by feminists from eleven countries.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Lucy Suchman
    • ology of Science and Technology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Lancaster, UK. Her research interests within the field of feminist science and technology studies are focused on technological imaginaries and material practices
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Kaushik Sunder Rajan
    • echnology studies, and postcolonial studies, holding a special interest in the global political economy of biomedicine, with a comparative focus on the Un
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Jenna Sutela
    • Jenna Sutela’s installations, texts, and sound performances seek to identify and react to precarious social and material moments, often in relation to technology. Most recently, she has been exploring exceedingly complex biological and computational systems, ultimately unknowable and always becoming something new. Her work has been presented, among other places, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and her writing has been published by Fiktion, Harvard Design Magazine, and Sternberg Press.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Bronislaw Szerszynski
    • Bronislaw Szerszynski is a Reader in Sociology at Lancaster University in the UK. Szerszynski’s work has developed across several themes, including the role of Western religious history in shaping contemporary understandings of technology and the environment—typified by his book Nature, Technology and the Sacred (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Elisa T. Bertuzzo
    • Elisa T. Bertuzzo studied comparative literature, sociology, communication, and media studies and holds a PhD in urban studies. She was a curator and project leader with Habitat Forum Berlin, including for the project Paradigmising Karail Basti (2010–16). Bridging discourses from the fields of cultural and urban studies, her research focuses on the everyday life facets of urbanization and settlement in South Asia. On that topic, she published Fragmented Dhaka: Analysing Everyday Life with Henri Lefebvre’s Theory of Production of Space (2009) and runs her multimedia project Archives of Movement (since 2012), which deals with the everyday life of temporary labor migrants in Bangladesh and India.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Gregory T. Cushman
    • Gregory T. Cushman is Associate Professor of International Environmental History at the University of Kansas.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Nasrin Tabatabai
    • Nasrin Tabatabai is an artist who works both in Iran and the Netherlands. Since 2004, she has collaborated with Babak Afrassiabi on various joint projects and the publication of the bilingual magazine Pages (Farsi and English). Their work seeks to articulate the undecidable space between art and its historical conditions, including the recurring question of the place of the archive in defining the juncture between politics, history, and the practice of art. The artists’ work has been presented internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and they have been tutors at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2008–13), and Erg, école supérieure des arts, Brussels (2015–).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Ksenia Tatarchenko
    • dies Institute, Geneva University, specializing in the history of Russian science and technology. She has held positions as a visiting Assistant Professor of History at NYU Shanghai and a post-doctoral fellow at the Harriman Institute, Columbia. Most broadly, she studies questions of knowledge circulation to situate Soviet developments in the global context. She is currently writing a book on science and innovation cultures in Siberia provisionally
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Katerina Teaiwa
    • Dr. Katerina Teaiwa is Associate Professor at the Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History & Language and the president of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies. Her main area of research looks at the histories of phosphate mining in the central Pacific. Her work does not only span academic research, publications, and lectures, but also manifests itself in other formats within the arts and popular culture. Her work has inspired a permanent exhibition at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which tells the story of Pacific phosphate mining through Banaban dance. In 2015, she published „Consuming Ocean Island: Stories of People and Phosphate from Banaba“, Indiana University Press. She is currently working with visual artist Yuki Kihara on a multimedia exhibition for Carriageworks in Sydney.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Jol Thomson
  • Claire Tolan
  • John Tresch
  • Etienne Turpin
    • Etienne Turpin is a philosopher, Founding Director of anexact office, and a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, where he coordinates the Humanitarian Infrastructures Group and co-directs the PetaBencana.id disaster mapping project for the Urban Risk Lab. He is the editor of Architecture in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Design, Deep Tim
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Asonseh Ukah
    • Asonzeh Ukah is a sociologist and historian of religion. He joined the University of Cape Town in 2013 and previously taught at the University of Bayreuth (2005–13), where he also earned a doctorate and habilitation in history of religions. His research interests include religious urbanism, the sociology of Pentecostalism, and religion and media. He is Director of the Research Institute on Christianity and Society in Africa (RICSA), University of Cape Town, and Affiliated Senior Fellow of Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), University of Bayreuth. He is the author of A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power (2008) and Bourdieu in Africa (edited with Magnus Echtler, 2016).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Underworlds
  • Sebastian Vehlken
    • Sebastian Vehlken is a media theorist and cultural historian at Leuphana University Lüneburg and Permanent Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS). From 2013 to 2017, he worked as MECS Junior Director, and in 2015–16, he was a visiting professor at Humboldt-Universität Berlin, the University of Vienna, and Leuphana. His areas of interest include the theory and history of computer simulation and digital media, the media history of swarm intelligence, and the epistemology of think tanks. His current research project, Plutonium Worlds, explores the application of computer simulations in West German fast breeder reactor programs.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Vladimir Vernadsky
  • Davor Vidas
    • Davor Vidas is a research professor in international law and Director of the Law of the Sea Programme at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Lysaker, Norway. He is Chair of the Committee on International Law and Sea Level Rise and a member of the Anthropocene Working Group. Vidas has been involved in international law research for over thirty years, focusing since 2009 on implications of the Anthropocene for the development of international law. Among his books are The World Ocean in Globalisation (2011) and Law, Technology and Science for Oceans in Globalisation (2010). He is the editor-in-chief of the book series Anthropocene (Skolska knjiga, Zagreb), launched in 2017.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Kalindi Vora
  • Hannes Wiedemann
    • Hannes Wiedemann is a Berlin-based photographer. He studied at the Ostkreuz School of Photography, Berlin. For his project Grinders (2015–16), he followed the American bodyhacking community, a small group of people across the United States working out of garages and basements to become real cyborgs. Recent exhibitions include NEW PHOTOGRAPHY II (2017) at Gallery ALAN, Istanbul, and HUMAN UPGRADE, with Susanna Hertrich (2016), at Schader-Stiftung Gallery, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt. www.hanneswiedemann.com
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Cary Wolfe
    • Cary Wolfe is Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English and Founding Director of 3CT: Center for Critical and Cultural Theory at Rice University, Houston. He is the author of What Is Posthumanism? (2010), a book that weaves together principal concerns of his work: animal studies, system theory, pragmatism, and post-structuralism. It is part of the series Posthumanities, for which he serves as Founding Editor at the University of Minnesota Press. His most recent publication is Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in Biopolitical Frame (2013) and earlier books and edited collections include Animal Rites: American Culture, The Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory (2003) and Zoontologies: The Question of the Animal (2003).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Andrew Yang
  • Jan Zalasiewicz
    • Dr. Jan Zalasiewicz is Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Leicester and Chair of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy. A field geologist, paleontologist, and stratigrapher, he teaches and publishes on geology and earth history, in particular on fossil ecosystems and environments that span over half a billion years of geological time.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Anna Zett
  • Sander van der Leeuw
    • ionships, and complex systems theory. He investigates the preconditions for and the practices and role of invention, sustainability, and innovation in societies. He has done
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Liv Østmo
    • Liv Østmo is one of the founders and current Dean of the Sámi University of Applied Sciences, Kautokeino, Norway, where she researches and lectures on the subject of multicultural understanding. For the last eight years, Østmo has worked with traditional Sámi knowledge and she is currently working on putting the finishing touches on a methodology book about the documentation of this knowledge.
    • 1
      published contributions
Detail from tarot card "The Lovers", the Rider-Waite tarot deck
Pamela Coleman Smith, 1909

The Byzantine Generalization Problem: Subtle Strategy in the Context of Blockchain Governance

Who is responsible for making the decision on how to make decisions? Researcher Kei Kreutler analyzes the decentralized, consensus-driven decision processes implemented in blockchain technologies from a more general perspective of governance. Such an approach allows for a more nuanced negotiation of agency, power, and stakes in decision processes for both technical and social organization.
One neuroatypical Roman emperor-to-be had a steep onboarding process for his court astrologer. Tiberius Julius Caesar would walk prospective astrologers along the coastline, drawing out their forecasts for pivotal events: a river flooding, a coup on the current emperor. As they wound their way to the highest cliff, he would ask them to look upon their own astrological birth chart and foresee their death, only to be thrown into the rocks below moments later. It wasn’t until the astrologer Thrasyllus—who would go on to successfully predict the current emperor’s ousting and the rise of Tiberius—looked up from his own chart to say, “It looks like I’m in grave danger right now,” that he filled the court position. While we look back condescendingly on the centuries when stars acted as movable spokes for power, the credibility we attribute to our own maps of the future may stand on equally influenced ground.

Skin in Whose Game
It is my estimate that approximately 2,321 blockchain whitepapers contain the phrase “skin in the game.” Repopularized by Nicholas Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan and the chaos cults’ preemptive answer to Jordan B. Peterson, the phrase signifies the degree of personal risk someone assumes in a given situation. Put your money where your mouth is; make it or break it; or, when signifying prediction markets today, vote values but bet beliefs. While the phrase can have many interpretations, it can be one way to divide the opportunists from the invested, those who stand behind the opinions they espouse. In Taleb’s conception, within the bounds of the “game,” those who stand with nothing to lose act for social signaling—positioning themselves loudly while committing nothing. In the story of Tiberius and Thrasyllus, the emperor-to-be put the astrologer’s life at risk, but the question of the astrologer’s agency remains. Did the emperor’s reputation precede him, and the story of the other would-be astrologers travel, or did the astrologer enter into the risky situation unaware and without other options? As in Thrasyllus the astrologer’s case, the majority position of a power asymmetry between an individual and their environment, or an individual and an institution, means an individual’s stake is primarily defined externally. The intermediating, or more powerfully leveraged, actor is more capable of setting the terms and risks of engagement. Blockchain technology claims to be trustless, in the sense that individuals don’t have to trust intermediaries or more powerful single actors in order to act and interact. The technical system off-loads authority onto a transparent and public consensus history, created and validated by the protocol and some of its users. The technical system could be considered a “trustless,” multiauthored actor in its own right, with the however unlikely and expensive scenario of its own validators’ collusion. “We don’t need to trust each other before we can begin to collaborate,” blockchain technology claims. Through the massively poor media reporting on blockchain, this claim can come to be misinterpreted, as today’s dominant connotation of trust suggests something interpersonal and chosen. The term “trustless” skims over that what may have been previously defined as “trust”—as in trusted institutions—and in many scenarios may not refer to voluntary, cultivated relationships but instead arise as a result of contingency and lack of alternatives. In this light, trust was the network effect of rumors around consolidation of power. Enter a replicated state machine, or by another name, a blockchain. By producing consensus history through cryptography and computational power, tokenized blockchain applications can allow individuals to define the degree of their own stake, their own investment and risk. They can also rewrite the boundaries of the game, so that those who are unwilling or perhaps unable to evidence stake, “skin in the game,” cannot play at all.

Pregame Theory
The Bitcoin whitepaper claimed blockchain to be a general solution for Byzantine fault tolerance in computer science, which takes its name from the game theoretical Byzantine Generals’ Problem.
large
align-left
align-right
delete
2 of Swords. Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck. Artist: Pamela Coleman Smith, 1909.
a
The Byzantine Generals’ Problem has to do with agreement. The illustrative story tells of a group of commanding generals who encircle a city and have to formulate an attack plan. There are two options: attack or retreat, and the generals need to come to a consensus decision in order to make the plan effective. Further complicating matters, having surrounded the city, the generals are geographically distant from one another and to communicate their decision to the others, they have to rely on a messenger. A messenger who might take the fastest route through the city center to the other side might be efficient, but there would be no way of knowing if their message had been tampered with: Were they bribed at the gate? What if the messenger never arrives?
In computer science, “Byzantine fault tolerance” describes the dependability of a system to reach accurate consensus with potentially unreliable actors. The Bitcoin blockchain addresses this issue by assuming that the computational power required from a malicious actor to attack the network would be too great and too expensive to be able to override the other actors on the network.
The design of incentives becomes integral to consensus-driven technical systems, which aim to coordinate many actors at scale and navigate a slew of game theoretical problems. Illustrated by the cross-wired motivations in the case of the Prisoner’s Dilemma or the Tragedy of the Commons, coordination and cooperation relies on aligning as much as possible the best interest of an individual or organization with the others involved. So, incentive design can be seen as mechanistically hedging against organizational stalemates or failures.
Rather than seeing technical, incentivized solutions to social problems, we could alternatively read governance issues as archetypal—mutable and immutable, recurring, and taking intractable forms.
large
align-left
align-right
delete
The Lovers. Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck. Artist: Pamela Coleman Smith, 1909.

These recurring patterns are typically mitigated by governance. According to the power law editor crowd of Wikipedia, the definition of governance is “the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented).UNESCAP, 2009. "What is Good Governance." (https://www.unescap.org/resources/what-good-governance)
This definition, however, leaves out a critical first-mover question: How do you make—or more pointedly, who makes—the first decision about the decision-making process without one already in place?
While a paradoxical problem on paper, each day “first decisions” are made at differing scales. Whether it’s sweeping gestures or incremental everyday actions, the ability to establish a new foundational process for how decisions are made and how action is undertaken structurally determines the course of a society, government, or organization. The tyranny of structurelessness—a poorly lit space filled with vague cultural norms and technical limitations but still anything other than empty—is the space from which explicit governance always emerges and into which it sometimes returns.

Blockchain Incentivizes Time Travel
In the current debate around decentralized platforms, the question, Who is responsible for making the decision on how to make decisions?, comes into focus.
In a post from November 2017, Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase, claimed, “governance is the most vital problem in the [blockchain] space.” Like organisms, he says, the most resilient blockchains will be those that can adapt to their environment—through implementing adequate governance processes. He details approaches to on-chain governance, which can be summarized as a blockchain having a decision-making system implemented in code. The various approaches include voting, whereby possessing one token will allow you one vote, or having a fully verified identity on your account will allow you one vote, a half-verified identity a half-vote, and so on. He goes on to mention futarchy and forking. Voting on-chain could encompass issues such as protocol updates—new features and security fixes—and changes in governance processes and community stakeholders.

On-chain Governance
1 “Person” = 1 Vote
 Problem: You can create infinite accounts. 
1 Token = 1 Vote 
Problem: You get plutarchy. 1 Verified Identity = 1 Vote
 1 50% Verified Identity = 0.5 Vote 
1 Anonymous “Identity” = 0.25 Vote
 Question: Do we want verified blockchain identities?
Two weeks later, Vlad Zamfir countered with “Against on-chain governance,” arguing governance is a complex social process that shouldn’t be fully technically encoded, and, perhaps more importantly, that those parachuting into the governance debate to propose solutions with far-reaching impact undermine the development and community work that has come before, potentially disenfranchising other actors not accounted for in a social or voting-based governance system. Whether it’s Ethereum’s the DAO or Bitcoin’s SegWit2x deliberations and New York Agreement, so far there have been discussions and lengthy deliberations around blockchain governance, on how to counter changes in the protocol and on how to technically travel back in block-time to before a hack, and while processes like the submission of Ethereum Improvement Protocols (EIP) are themselves improving, it might be beneficial that more governance standards have yet to be set in stone for developing technology that needs room to iteratively fail and succeed. The only issue with this, then, is if in the meantime someone can come in to make the first decision about how decisions are made, leaving all other choices absurdly empty.
large
align-left
align-right
delete
© Kei Kreutler, 2018


The Byzantine Generalization Problem
Nick Szabo, who happens to be the originator of the term “smart contracts” and the second likeliest suspect behind the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, wrote:
large
align-left
align-right
delete
Nick Szabo's tweet on February 13, 2018. Source: Twitter

While the arguments around governance abound, the question of what’s at stake in the discussion remains hazy. Depending on who you ask, it’s anything from the future of all asset exchange or organizational design to simply the fates of a small group of developers and a few entangled bystanders arguing over software updates. Either way, “governance” and “game theory” are terms that can be easily deployed to obfuscate a task at hand. In computer security, there’s a concept of “attack surface,” the total possible attack vectors in a technical system—that is, hackable entrance points for data entry and extraction. It’s best practice to keep the attack surface as small as possible. A simple metaphor would be how many doors with faulty locks one house has.
large
align-left
align-right
delete
Source: unknown

Szabo writes that where in security there is an attack surface, in questions of governance, there is an “argument surface”: the total optionality in a given system or organization. That is, each next step or action that can be enacted in more than one way opens the space for deliberation and argumentation, and, well, perhaps it would be better to limit the argument surface, too, by off-loading as much as we can to a technical system, in order to keep acting. For example, if the amount of transactions processed in every “block” had to be decided by the community, it would open a vast possibility for argument and contention. Instead, what is referred to as the “block size” is technically predetermined by the protocol.
While there’s significant overlap between game theoretical problems in computer science and human organization, distinctions remain. As a governance mechanism, consensus is defined as unanimous agreement, or at least no remaining challenges to an agreement. Matan Field, from DAOStack, delineates between “objective consensus,” required by a technical system to be in agreement about the order of previous actions and its current state, and “subjective consensus,” the only semi-explicit charted terrain, which is the argument surface through which humans deliberate and make decisions.https://epicenter.tv/episode/237/
Subjective consensus is rooted in conversation: making an argument for the best way forward and debating any alternatives.
large
align-left
align-right
delete
The Tower. Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck. Artist: Pamela Coleman Smith, 1909.

There is, however, something like a third way: an inexact science for navigating the Tower as tragedy of the commons, as the community-owned resources lie misused all around you, while the assembly meeting goes two hours over schedule. The importance of what Szabo highlights in any governance framework’s “argument surface” is something evidenced by the backlash against Ehrsam’s post calling for urgent action on blockchain governance: who can claim the ability to make the first decisions and who can continue to custom frame the governance issues. While perhaps lack of governance has seen the radical politics of early Bitcoin become stalemated into creating privately distributed ledgers for improving banks’ paperwork, there is a tendency of governance creep in any fledgling organization or stewarded resource, in which the frequency of discussions on governance processes has an oddly distinct relationship to the effectiveness of putting said governance in place and avoiding external capture.
large
align-left
align-right
delete
© Kei Kreutler, 2018

When all basic decisions start becoming decisions of governance, when all questions are questions of agency to make a decision, a curious epiphenomenon occurs. It’s here that totalizing jurisdiction approaches the asymptote of impossibility of action.
large
align-left
align-right
delete
© Kei Kreutler, 2018

The Byzantine Generalization Problem describes when all issues in an organization or technical system are framed as governance issues. Any question that’s brought before an organization can become a question of who has the agency to provide the solution. Even if it’s fixing the broken plumbing in a housing co-op, when framed as a governance issue, the debate on who should take care of it could last for weeks as the pipes leak and the toilets fail to drain. The generalization of governance can be applied to every challenge an organization faces, especially when there is no clear—or technically embedded—solution at hand. When the complexity of the organization grows, this “generalization problem” applies exponentially, with considerably less clarity on the necessity of action than in the example above.
A DDoS attack on governance, the Byzantine Generalization Problem is the opposite means to the same end of the tyranny of structurelessness. In consensus culture, often the most indefatigable wins, and power is implicitly consolidated by those who provoke interrogations of process. Perhaps a social formula lurks that can be translated fully into equation—the seat atop the precious bell curve in the pseudo-chart above—that would lead to transparency, clarity, and appropriate calibration of deliberation on governance systems. Everyone has their opinions on how to solve it regardless, ad nauseam and ad infinitum.
That said, as we learn from programs that sponsored the use of consensus, the Byzantine Generalization Problem can be used as a strategy to delay decision-making when necessary and to tactically, obliquely question the right to power. Ambiguous, unattended responsibilities are the “attack surface” and way in.
large
align-left
align-right
delete
Source: Stewart Brand. The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility, 37. New York: Basic Books, 1999.

Another strategy could be to start with a given end goal and seek to map the context and required actions for it to be reached. Such a theory of change relies on an adequate mental model of the environment—with the corollary that the greater the complexity of the environment, the more obfuscated its model’s underlying assumptions are—and importantly, it relies on formulating a multiplicity of understandings of how change may occur in the environment. While governance, incentives, and protocols may be the most explicit frameworks to guide organizational action, there are always other tools available and already at play. A theory of change can metabolize its environment through time and narrative, incorporating strategies with ulterior rhythms and cloaked intentions. The most efficient path from A to B may be the most hidden and illogical one, based on learning acquired from missteps and faulty data. In the pace-laying diagram above, we can conceive of the different rhythms of change—from the slow yet impactful arc of culture and the informative flippancy of fashion—and formulate narrative strategies and technical impositions intersecting with each.
large
align-left
align-right
delete
Every Ethereum Logo © Kei Kreutler, 2018

Aesthetic narratives and false juxtapositions propel change equally as, if not more than, governance protocols do. Every narrative can be framed in every light. Ethereum, a blockchain platform and protocol that launched in 2015, has seen its own innumerable iterations and adaptations since. Each Ethereum logo has its own part to play, or something. Trusted governance and authenticity must be considered a question not solely of explicit or defined processes but also of subtler forms of manipulation. It’s become critical to realize that there has always been fake news, and moreover, that exposing the most accurate information will not in any way necessitate it being acted upon. Fake news—what previous generations may have confined to an understanding of propaganda—is the inevitable result of both massive media industries and small-scale social gossip that travels from one town to the next. Misinformation often comes in gradients, and its propulsion can be as similarly effective as diverse aesthetic and implicit narratives. The Truth is always preceded by a bounty on its name. Each time you point a finger at falsity without offering a significant, desirable counter narrative, politically or aesthetically, you grant the central authority of truth-making a wider warrant to dismiss all facts.
It is by hyperstitionally navigating ambiguity, taking into account the tools unused and the egregores at play, that claims to governance can be made. In the case of blockchain, and of decentralized governance platforms as they become more widespread, surely not all those affected by the outcome of a decision will possess the requisite token to proportionally offer their stake. If you have the first-decision-maker advantage, how do you shift the terms of who's allowed to have skin in the game to be more inclusive of affected parties? The debate surrounding decentralized governance assumes governance is the main arena for enacting change, but whether it’s the self-owning forest of terra0 or Trent McConaghy’s Nature 2.0, the exponentiating legibility of inhuman and ecological actors’ agency to capital will increasingly transform our understanding of what governance decisions have always been made outside our process-based control. Legibility to capital, however, is not our end goal. While the Byzantine Generalization Problem escapes exact science, it’s perhaps with a more nuanced understanding of how to leverage governance claims that Thrasyllus’s ability to correctly and adaptively read the conditions of power at stake in his own stars may find its home in the direct action of the future.