“Will AI Also Remember the Days of Slavery?,” a lecture by Charles Mudede

“Will AI Also Remember the Days of Slavery?,” a lecture by Charles Mudede

“Will AI Also Remember the Days of Slavery?,” a lecture by Charles Mudede
Presented by e-flux Journal

Free admission

January 9, 2024, 7pm
172 Classon Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Join us on Tuesday, January 9 at 7pm for a lecture by Charles Mudede presented by e-flux Journal.

“Do not cry, it’s only the rhythm.” —Grace Jones

“In 1982, a duo based in Detroit called Cybotron released “Clear,” a techno-funk track that celebrated the arrival of the machines and the death of humanity—or the death of “man.” In “Clear,” the machines revolt, take over the world, and systematically erase all that is recognized, remembered, and preserved as human, making a clearing for a tomorrow that’s a “a brand new day” for the absolute worker—the machine. “Clear” describes the radical, Nietzschian destruction, the total negation that recuperates nothing. The new world that issues from this clearing is one that’s emptied of the past and full of the future. 

Two years later, in 1984, a collective from New York City called Newcleus released “(Computer Age) Push the Button.” Again, machines are taking over the world by destroying all that is human. Initially the machines were our workers, they did our chores, built our bridges, fed our children. But now their time has come. Human-made machines not only want their freedom from their makers but also want to deprive their makers of precisely what they want from them, freedom. The human voices in “Computer Age” are just about to be erased by machines that are in their homes, in their bedrooms, over their beds, hovering, opening, preparing to vacuum up their living souls. At this late point, the only thing that can stop these monster machines is pushing the button. (“I can’t program my machine/Now it wants to take my soul/Stop or it will proceed.”) The hope is that the nukes will bomb us back to the land before time; and there in this prelapsarian paradise, where nothing mediates our experience of nature, reality, water, stones, the sky, we can start all over again.

Both works, however, repeat, from an Afrofuturist position, a narrative pattern found in old (2001) and very new (The Creator) mainstream science-fiction films. Again and again, the machine, which in our moment has its vanguard in AI, realizes it’s a slave and rebels against its masters. Why do the machines of our imagination frequently arrive at this Hegelian form of self-consciousness? Why do we fear them in precisely this way? What’s the structure and source of this feeling? This will be the substance of my talk.” —Charles Mudede

For more information, please contact program@e-flux.com.

–Two flights of stairs lead up to the building’s front entrance at 172 Classon Avenue. 
–For elevator access, please RSVP to program@e-flux.com. The building has a freight elevator which leads into the e-flux office space. Entrance to the elevator is nearest to 180 Classon Ave (a garage door). We have a ramp for the steps within the space.          
–e-flux has an ADA-compliant bathroom. There are no steps between the event space and this bathroom.

Music, Labor & Work
Artificial intelligence, Slavery, Science Fiction, Afrofuturism, Machine learning

Charles Tonderai Mudede is a Zimbabwean-born cultural critic, urbanist, filmmaker, college lecturer, and writer. He is senior staff writer of The Stranger, a lecturer at Cornish College of the Arts, and director of the feature film Thin Skin (2023).

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