27.06 / Lecture

AI Economy: Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

If AI builds worlds, then what is the role for architects and designers in that world-building? Can design steer how platform-scale AI is steering society?

A series of talks on AI economy by Benjamin Bratton and Molly Wright Steenson.

Nevermind the future, AI is already an integral technology driving the world's most important platforms. It makes things, puts them in motion, and ensures that they show up on time. It sees you and predicts what you want next. In turn, you may not see or feel AI, but the more you use those platforms the more you are training the algorithms that run them. Thus, we make worlds.

The AI economy changes how value is defined, accumulated and circulated. It is changing the geopolitics between the West and the East as training data becomes sovereign. It is turning cities inside out. What are the roles for Design in the AI Economy? Can design steer how platform-scale AI is steering society? Should it?


AI is less a “brain in a box” than a landscape full of sensing, sorting and thinking little species chattering amongst themselves. It is the basis of “platform cognition” and how competing platforms sense, understand and model the world (including us). The platforms we have today are not the platforms we necessarily want or need, and the design of alternatives may come down to reconceiving their cognition. That could get very strange. This talk will explore what that may mean and look like.

Benjamin Bratton — Programme Director of the Strelka Institute. He is Professor of Visual Arts and Director of the Center for Design at the University of California, San Diego. He is also a Professor of Digital Design at The European Graduate School and Visiting Faculty at SCI_Arc (The Southern California Institute of Architecture).


AI is the future. But it's also the past. While we've been using the term artificial intelligence for 64 years, AI is transforming the world in some very real ways that were once science fiction. If AI builds worlds, then what is the role for architects and designers in that world-building? In this talk, Molly Wright Steenson will look at the past of AI and architecture, and then look ahead into the future, into a world of AI shaped by designers and architects.

Molly Wright Steenson — designer, author, professor. She is The Senior Associate Dean for Research at the College of Fine Arts, the K&L Gates Associate Professor of Ethics and Computational Technologies at Carnegie Mellon University. Author of “Architectural Intelligence: How Designers and Architects Created the Digital Landscape” (MIT Press, 2017). 

This evening will introduce a series of The New Normal public events at Strelka marking the end of the three-year research program and think-tank. Curated by faculty, this series will investigate some of the core themes of the program, defining the new contemporary condition we call “the new normal”.

The lectures will be held in English, with simultaneous translation into Russian.

The New Normal event series is supported by Digital October.

For accreditation — pr@strelka.com.

english with simultaneous translation into Russian
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