This talk examines the historical and conceptual convergence of governance, design, and algorithmic technologies. It reworks the conceptual architecture of Michel Foucault’s notion of governmentality in order to expose how design and automation technologies emerge within the strategic operations of governing. So conceived, modern designing shows itself to be woven into the material operations of governmentality, and the computational and machine-learning techniques that are becoming ubiquitous in personal, corporate, and legal domains are a part of much longer-term strategy of “governmental designing.” What emerges from this discussion is a preliminary outline for a critical and speculative design brief that charts a very different way of thinking about the genealogical emergence of modern designing, how the latter works across divergent materials and institutions, and how algorithmic apparatuses have become central to the neocolonial project of designing the conditions under which contemporary subjectivation unfolds.

Adam Nocek is an assistant professor in the philosophy of technology and science and technology studies in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering at Arizona State University. He is also the founding director of ASU’s Center for Philosophical Technologies. Nocek has published widely on the philosophy of media and science; speculative philosophy (especially Whitehead); design philosophy, history, and practice; and critical and speculative theories of computational media. His monograph Molecular Capture: The Animation of Biology is forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press. Nocek is the co-editor of The Lure of Whitehead (Minnesota), along with several other book collections and special issues addressing speculative philosophy, technoscience, and design. He is a visiting researcher at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam and previously held the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences Visiting Professorship.

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