Matthew Fuller on Fri, 8 Nov 2013 17:24:19 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> CFP: Culture of the Artificial symposium

The Culture of the Artificial symposium, at AISB--50, Goldsmiths, London, 1-4
April 2014

*   As part of the AISB--50 Annual Convention 2014 to be held at Goldsmiths,
University of London, on April 1st-4th 2014

*   The convention is organised by the Society for the Study of Artificial
Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour (AISB)


In 1964, when AISB was founded, computing was largely associated with
the repetitive operations of the large mainframe machines employed by
the military, by industry and by space programmes. Alan Turing, who had
died prematurely just a decade before, had formalised the notion of what
it means to compute in his seminal work of 1936, and in 1950 he had
speculated again as to the association between computation and mental
operations. Yet in 1964, the mechanisation of computation through
digital means was generally only familiar to the scientist, the
businessman and the maverick. Today, by contrast - half a century later
- much has changed: from taking a phone call or a picture, from shipping
  goods to organising labour, without risk of exaggeration one could say
that few activities in the contemporary world can evade the
computational altogether. To all intents and purposes, we live in a
computational culture, many of the principles and possibilities of which
were established and reinforced in those mid-century explorations from
which the AISB originated.

In this symposium we take computational culture as our topic and object
of enquiry. We argue for the existence of a specific 'culture of the
artificial', to paraphrase Herbert Simon's expression, and contend that
its foundations, limits and potentials can be best approached and
analysed only if this artificiality is granted the possibility not just
of imitating, amplifying or speeding up the cultural, the societal, and
the economic but of producing them in its own terms, times and modes.
The Culture of the Artificial symposium will therefore bring together
cultural theorists, philosophers, scientists, mathematicians and
practitioners to investigate how computational artificiality and
algorithmic simulation are not simply passive markers of 21st century
culture, but amongst its most active players and decision-makers. For
this symposium we invite contributions that engage with the theoretical
and historical foundations and implications of this scenario, and
possibly help to define strategies and methodologies for understanding
its future developments.

This event thus aims to move beyond general arguments about the rapidity
and power of the information society, about the distribution of
computational technology or about the commercialization of the Internet
(factors that have, for material as much as ideological reasons,
certainly contributed to the establishment of computational culture as
such). Similarly, we want to move beyond some of the traditional
critiques of the artificial and of the simulated that have been
perpetuated, at various points, by cultural theory. 'Cyberculture',
'digital media', 'information revolution' are familiar cultural tropes,
synecdoches for something more significant; computation was a component
part of all of them, but now needs to be studied in its own peculiarity
and distinctiveness. Making this claim of course does not equate to
advocating a naive embrace of the rationalization and quantification of
life and society, but actually asks us to be even more attentive to and
critical towards the detail and operation of such dynamics.

The event is organized in the context of the Society for the Study of
Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour annual convention
due to two main motives. On the one hand, we argue for historical and
conceptual resonances between the emerging condition of a computational
culture and the development of the AI programme: the former arguably
stemmed from the contingencies and formalisms that the latter initiated
or participated in.  Equally, the condition of computational culture
shares much of the hopes, fears, sensibilities and practicalities of the
broad AI field and its historical precedents.  Software studies
approaches drawing on computing, media and cultural theory, philosophy,
art, science and technology studies are means of attending to these

     Our second motive is more methodological: computational culture is a
culture where notions of the artificial and the natural blur, where science and
the humanities converse, where the empirical and the formal clash, but in which
each needs and tangles with the other. Equally, computation produces
fully-fledged ontologies and epistemologies, many of which originated in
primarily technical contexts but are now active as and with cultural forms in
their own right.  This condition creates a novel context for the understanding
of forms of intelligence and behaviour and for the development of new research
programmes operating in a fully inter-disciplinary or post-disciplinary manner.

Topics of Interest

We welcome submissions from various fields of expertise and areas of
research related to the rationale of this event. Topics include, but are
definitely not limited to:

- Software Studies analyses of historical artificial intelligence and
  simulated behaviour artefacts;

- Critical and philosophical analyses of the legacy and achievements of
  Alan Turing in relation to culture;

- Developments in modes of collaboration and mutual problematisation
  between cultural theory and artificial intelligence and robotics (such
as for instance the "Critical Technical Practice" proposed by Philip

- Artificiality and simulation as modes of speculative culture;

-The cultural and political conditions of the pursuit of AI agendas in
the generalization of computational forms of life;

- Speculative possibilities for a theoretical and practical exploration
  of what intelligence is or might be said to be in relation to the
computational turn in culture.

Submission and Publication Details

Submissions must be full papers and should be sent to:

Text editor templates from a previous convention can be found at:

We request that submitted papers are limited to 2000 words. We will provide
fast feedback on whether a paper is accepted or not.  Each accepted paper will
receive at least two reviews. Selected papers will be published in the general
proceedings of the AISB Convention, with the proviso that at least ONE author
attends the symposium in order to present the paper and participate in general
symposium activities.

Papers successfully submitted and presented will be considered for further
development towards inclusion in a special issue of the online open-access
peer-review journal "Computational Culture, a journal of software studies":

Important Dates

i.     Full paper submission deadline: 3 January 2014
ii.    Notification of acceptance/rejection decisions: 3 February 2014
iii.   Final versions of accepted papers (Camera ready copy): 24 February 2014
iv.    Convention: 1-4 April 2014 [confirmation of symposium dates tbc]

Additional Information

Please note that there will be separate proceedings for each symposium,
produced before the convention. Each delegate will receive a memory
stick containing the proceedings of all the symposia. In previous years
there have been awards for the best student paper, and limited student
bursaries. These details will be circulated as and when they become
available. Authors of a selection of the best papers will be invited to
submit an extended version of the work to a journal special issue.

Symposium Chairs
Matthew Fuller and M. Beatrice Fazi (Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths)

Organising Committee

M. Beatrice Fazi, Matthew Fuller & Luciana Parisi, Digital Culture Unit,
Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London

Computational Culture Editorial Group, Matthew Fuller (Goldsmiths), Olga

Goriunova (Warwick), Andrew Goffey (Nottingham), Graham Harwood
(Goldsmiths), Adrian Mackenzie (Lancaster).

Symposium Website

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