02 – Who makes Europe?
ChronicleMatadero Madrid, Madrid, 2013.
The technological government of the economy outlines a post-political scenario. The second CCPF brought together a group of experts on economics, finance, politics, hacktivism, sociology, communication and philosophy to interpret the instructions issued by the €-H.A.L. computer (High Administration Logics).
The preliminary directive to “temporarily suspend electoral processes to avoid distortion of the economic calculations,” unleashed the first questions. What political elbow room remains when an issue as fundamental as the economy is delegated to an automatic expert system? What practical capacity is left for freedom, disagreement or consensus? Is it really possible to think economic logics can be separated from politics? Are we witnessing the culmination of the rational logic of modernity? Or a sort of “post-modern coup d’état” where power has been taken over by a form of technological intelligence, rather than by military force? Are we talking about some kind of soft techno-fascism? A futuristic form of socialism? An ultra-neoliberal scenario subject to the market? In any case, are we willing to accept a “happy vassalage”? The device soon became suspect. Have machines stopped serving humans? Do we know for sure that the logics governing the computer are the right ones? Should we have faith in technology? How do you determine its guarantees? Is technocracy a kind of theocracy? Will the system suffer periodic crises that require political intervention to fine-tune economic ups and downs, as was the case under capitalism? Is there such a thing as foolproof computing, or, by relying on human programming, will it make mistakes? Does it make sense to think about how a computer has been programmed when it is capable of self-regulation through artificial intelligence? Does it make sense to ask who is “behind” the machine when, perhaps, there is no “behind” anymore”? In light of the second instruction to “eliminate any form of non-productive art”, new questions were raised. What is non-productive art? Where do aesthetics, experimentation or exceptionality fit into a purely prescriptive framework? Does qualitative logic make sense beyond quantitative logic? What do we do with the obsolete artistic infrastructures? The third provision, to “optimize the population over 65”, posed moral challenges. Do we have to sacrifice our elders? Commercialize their ways of life? Can the meaning of “optimal”, beyond efficiency thought of as “couldn’t be better”, be reformulated towards an “unsurpassable” form of well-being”? Can we think of “brotherhood” in a unilaterally governed environment? The fourth order, to “tighten the workday to 3 hours a day, 3 days a week, 3 weeks a month, 3 months a year,” raised discrepancies. What about unpaid reproductive work that cannot be left unattended? Is a society populated by homo ludens desirable? Are we ready for so much free time? Does politics make sense in an emancipated future, freed from material needs? What price do we put on our comfort? Faced with the impossibility of channeling collective desires, discordant voices emerged. Why do we feel disaffection in a context of prosperity? Should the economy solve our dissatisfactions? Do we have any choice but to rebel against the tyranny of technocracy? What strategies for rebellion are feasible? Perhaps forming small unproductive political communities, on the sidelines of the space managed by €-H.A.L.? Is there an “economic outside” beyond technocracy? Should we set up “sleeper cells”, “invisible committees” to deploy direct confrontational actions? Should we confront technology by using other forms of hacktivist technology? Could we rewrite the computer’s source code with the criteria freeware? Or program another machine to dialogue with €-H.A.L., shifting the conflict to a diplomatic process between non-humans? What if its real goal were simply to get us to debate among ourselves? Would this make sense considering that the times of human dialogue and agreement are outweighed by the immediacy of capital transactions? What if its goal is none other than to regulate the economy of our time, to keep us entertained in mock debate? Do we need to expand conventional resistance vocabularies, given the challenge we face? Should we try out ways of interacting with the machine that exclude direct confrontation? Since it works with fine-tuned screening procedures, would it be possible to modify its behavior on the basis of changing our behavior patterns to fine-tune its responses? Should we step up our activity and make it use up more and more computing power until it becomes vulnerable? Can we play with H.A.L., put its evaluation system to the test by behaving in an illogical way? What if we all act crazy? Are we crazy? The last instruction, to “get rid of the colour yellow”, revealed the importance of the reception plane of the messages. How do you interpret illogical instructions like this one? Could misunderstanding also be an opportunity for resistance? Can this crisis appeal to the common interest, summon up a kind of “unifying” force and reconfigure the conception of a “political-us”? Can instructions be an occasion for further deliberations? What if we paint everything yellow to keep the computer busy, while we plan our next steps? The discussion was adjourned out of fear that the computer could detect our intentions and execute a devastating sanction for the members of the cabinet.
These and other issues can be seen in detail in the minutes of the meetings.