Adrian Mackenzie: Machine Learners: Archaeology of a Data Practice (2017)

22 June 2018, dusan

“If machine learning transforms the nature of knowledge, does it also transform the practice of critical thought?

Machine learning—programming computers to learn from data—has spread across scientific disciplines, media, entertainment, and government. Medical research, autonomous vehicles, credit transaction processing, computer gaming, recommendation systems, finance, surveillance, and robotics use machine learning. Machine learning devices (sometimes understood as scientific models, sometimes as operational algorithms) anchor the field of data science. They have also become mundane mechanisms deeply embedded in a variety of systems and gadgets. In contexts from the everyday to the esoteric, machine learning is said to transform the nature of knowledge. In this book, Adrian Mackenzie investigates whether machine learning also transforms the practice of critical thinking.

Mackenzie focuses on machine learners—either humans and machines or human-machine relations—situated among settings, data, and devices. The settings range from fMRI to Facebook; the data anything from cat images to DNA sequences; the devices include neural networks, support vector machines, and decision trees. He examines specific learning algorithms—writing code and writing about code—and develops an archaeology of operations that, following Foucault, views machine learning as a form of knowledge production and a strategy of power. Exploring layers of abstraction, data infrastructures, coding practices, diagrams, mathematical formalisms, and the social organization of machine learning, Mackenzie traces the mostly invisible architecture of one of the central zones of contemporary technological cultures.

Mackenzie’s account of machine learning locates places in which a sense of agency can take root. His archaeology of the operational formation of machine learning does not unearth the footprint of a strategic monolith but reveals the local tributaries of force that feed into the generalization and plurality of the field.”

Publisher MIT Press, November 2017
ISBN 9780262036825, 0262036827
272 pages
via A.B.


PDF (removed on 2018-8-20 upon request from publisher)
Draft and code samples on GIT

Rocco Gangle: Diagrammatic Immanence: Category Theory and Philosophy (2015)

21 February 2016, dusan

“A renewal of immanent metaphysics through diagrammatic methods and the tools of category theory.

Spinoza, Peirce and Deleuze are, in different ways, philosophers of immanence. Rocco Gangle addresses the methodological questions raised by a commitment to immanence in terms of how diagrams may be used both as tools and as objects of philosophical investigation. He integrates insights from Spinozist metaphysics, Peircean semiotics and Deleuze’s philosophy of difference in conjunction with the formal operations of category theory.

Category theory reveals deep structural connections among logic, topology and a variety of different areas of mathematics, and it provides constructive and rigorous concepts for investigating how diagrams work. Gangle introduces the methods of category theory from a philosophical and diagrammatic perspective, allowing philosophers with little or no mathematical training to come to grips with this important field.

This coordination of immanent metaphysics, diagrammatic method and category theoretical mathematics opens a new horizon for contemporary thought.”

Publisher Edinburgh University Press, 2015
ISBN 1474404170, 9781474404174
256 pages
via wX


PDF, PDF (updated on 2016-11-20)

YoHa, et al.: Evil Media Distribution Centre (2013)

18 May 2015, dusan

“Evil Media Distribution Centre is a response to the book Evil Media (2012) by Matthew Fuller and Andrew Goffey. In that book the authors argue for a broader notion of media and a deeper, more complex understanding of how these grey media influence the way we behave, think and perceive.

‘Grey media’ produce the working environment of administrators, professionals, delivery operatives and arranges the movements and work-arounds of everyone from chief executives to intellectuals or cleaners. They are the background to contemporary society. Using them, getting round their failures, exploiting their specific qualities, forms part of the necessary knowledge of the present day. These things mediate, transform, encode, filter and translate relations. Fuller and Goffey include a broad definition of media to include things like middle management, neurotropic or suppressant drugs that treat the body as an information system, alongside things such as queuing systems or specific algorithms or data–structures.

Assisted by Transmediale, Tom Keene, Anna Blumenkranz and other members of the Open Systems Association, YoHa (Graham Harwood & Matsuko Yokokoji) had invited people to write a text of one hundred words about an object, its genealogy, any key factors that make it amenable to manipulation. This text was then presented together with the object in a cabinet of curiosities that at the same time evoked associations with a distribution centre. A key fact of grey media is its ready quality of dryness, one bordering temptingly on boredom and this is something we asked people to maintain when writing the text.

The project has been installed at Transmediale 2013 in Berlin and The Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam.” (from YoHa’s statement)

Review: Stephen Fortune (2013).

28 contributions presented in video
All 51 contributions presented in text (use menu on the left)