Cognitive Infrastructures: Synthetic Intelligence in the Wild

Cognitive Infrastructures: Synthetic Intelligence in the Wild


Photo: Marlow Birdpark, Simon Bruslund. Design: Antikythera. 

June 19, 2024
Cognitive Infrastructures: Synthetic Intelligence in the Wild
Lecture by Benjamin Bratton, Director, Antikythera
July 3, 2024, 6pm
Platform Theatre at Central Saint Martins
1 Handyside St
London N1C 4AA
United Kingdom
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As AI becomes both more general and more foundational, it shouldn’t be seen as a disembodied virtual brain. It is a real, material force. AI is embedded into the active, decision-making processes of real world systems. As AI becomes infrastructural, infrastructures become intelligent. 

Join Antikythera for a keynote lecture with Director Benjamin Bratton on Cognitive Infrastructures: Synthetic Intelligence in the Wild, Wednesday, July 3, 6pm at Central Saint Martins in London. 

Natural Intelligence emerges at environmental scale and in the interactions of multiple agents. It is located not only in brains but in landscapes. Similarly, artificial intelligence is not contained within single artificial minds but extends throughout the networks of planetary computation: it is baked into industrial processes; it generates images and text; it coordinates circulation in cities; it senses, models and acts in the wild.

This represents an infrastructuralization of AI, but also a “making cognitive” of both new and legacy infrastructures. These are capable of responding to us, to the world, and to each other in ways we recognize as embedded and networked cognition.

Not only will individual users interact with big models, but multiple combinations of models will interact with groups of people in overlapping amalgamations. Perhaps the most critical and unfamiliar interactions will unfold between different AIs without human interference. 

AI is now physicalized, from user interfaces on the surface of handheld devices to deep below the built environment. As we interact with the world, we retrain model weights, making actions newly reflexive. To play with the model is to remake the model, increasingly in real time.

Cognitive Infrastructures are forming, framing, and evolving a new ecology of planetary intelligence.

What kind of design space is this? What does it afford, enable, produce, and delimit? When AIs are simultaneously platforms, applications and users, what are the interfaces between society and its intelligent simulations? How can we understand AI Alignment not as just AI bending to society, but how societies evolve in relationship to AI? What kinds of Cognitive Infrastructures will emerge, and what might be composed? 

The lecture Cognitive Infrastructures: Synthetic Intelligence in the Wild will explore this work as part of Antikythera’s Summer Studio on Cognitive Infrastructures, based at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London and hosted by CSM MA Narrative Environments and Digital Innovation. RSVP is essential. A reception at the Platform Bar will follow the lecture.

The lecture builds on from last year’s keynote lecture, After Alignment (watch the film on Antikythera’s website). Attendance at last year’s lecture is not at all required to attend.  

Benjamin Bratton is the director of Antikythera and Professor of Philosophy of Technology at University of California San Diego. He is the author of several books including The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, The Terraforming, and The Revenge of The Real. 

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June 19, 2024

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