Assimilation, 2020. Work in progress.
Assimilation is a two part on/offline series that examines the contemporary existential conditions of modern cybernetics; focusing on the development, failures and (the quantum?) future of the internet and the world wide web. It questions the dynamics of personal data extraction and exchange, its monetization and the illusion of privacy, and ponders on the possibility for the human, agency, and other alternatives.
As quantum physics is regarded as the human theory that most precisely describes nature to this day, it also promises new, strange, chaotic, almost-mystical, powerful technological developments and understandings. Feminist physicist Karen Barad argues that “Matter and meaning are not separate elements”, and talks about different agency levels, agential realism and "intra-actions" and how this could inform other understandings of the self and how we relate. There's already a lot of hope in extrapolating quantum understandings to philosophy, thinking and meaning and how given the fluidity of the “micromeshing pulsing quanta”, material differences that usually give rise to prejudices such as those between species, sexes, races and classes could no longer seem to matter. But quantum computing is different. Computing is about control; the making of quantum phenomena fully programmable. If nature now is quantum mechanical, computation at this scale is about its dominance.
Processing at quantum "entangled" states should allow to carry out massive calculations exponentially faster than the best classical machines. Looking beyond its benign applications, as quantum computing technologies are advancing, so is the class of addressable problems. For instance, only a few have access because its builds and maintenance remains immensely expensive and difficult. Some countries are already in an arms race for its potential to transform warfare. And in cybernetics, the scientific community is warning that it is only a matter of time until quantum computers threaten Internet encryption, hence, cyber security and our data. So, who has the agency to develop quantum computers? An important question given that quantum computers are essentially a weapon.
If we look at the history of our classical Internet and its never-intended detriments, amongst other crucial issues we find, the loss of agency over our personal data, its monetization (the new extractivist colonial practice), the use of that data to target or limit content and/or inform biased predictive environments and by extent our behaviour. Google has already claimed "quantum supremacy", a term that's already problematic on its own. Could quantum developments exponentially accelerate precision and extraction in the digital environment, and enable complete world domination by corporations?
Our past futurisms, once again, have fallen short of foreseeing this reality that poise for a dystopian future in which next level (quantum?) censorship seems as ubiquitous as data, annihilating the liberatory promise of the early Internet. This is a future that not even the Black Mirror series has come up with.
Is human thought the ultimate privacy frontier? It is a fact that some countries are already trying to brain scan their employees through wireless sensors in hats, but the technology for advanced “emotional surveillance” is not here yet. This also raises more questions. How far in the future is the possibility of scanning our conscience or personal thoughts? If enough data is gathered in biometric databases can your thoughts be predicted? Or recognized? Or be pushed in a self-fulfilled algorithmical prophecy? What would happen in a world of absolutely no privacy? Or extreme (quantum?) surveillance? Could facial recognition develop into something like thought recognition? Could quantum developments lead to an AI that can read your mind and/or predict/build your thoughts?
The project will culminate in online digital & physical installations for potential partners in the future development/exhibiting of the work.
Assimilation, 2020. Work in progress , 1:22".
Gabriella Torres Ferrer