The End of the Future: Governing Consequence in the Age of Digital Sovereignty


Polsky, Stephanie, Ph.D., California College of the Arts


Author of Walter Benjamin’s Transit: A Destructive Tour of Modernityand Ignoble Displacement: Dispossessed Capital in Dickensian London

We are now entering an era where the human world assumes recognition of itself as data. Much of humanity’s basis for existence is becoming subordinate to software processes that tabulate, index, and sort the relations that comprise what we perceive as reality. The acceleration of data collection threatens to relinquish ephemeral modes of representation to ceaseless processes of computation. This situation compels the human world to form relations with non-human agencies, to establish exchanges with software processes in order to allow a profound upgrade of our own ontological understanding. By mediating with a higher intelligence, we may be able to rediscover the inner logic of the age of intelligent machines.

In The End of the Future, Stephanie Polsky conceives an understanding of the digital through its dynamic intersection with the advent and development of the nation-state, race, colonization, navigational warfare, mercantilism, and capitalism, and the mathematical sciences over the past five centuries, the era during which the world became “modern.” The book animates the twenty-first century as an era in which the screen has split off from itself and proliferated onto multiple surfaces, allowing an inverted image of totalitarianism to flash up and be altered to support our present condition of binary apperception. It progresses through a recognition of atomized political power, whose authority lies in the control not of the means of production, but of information, and in which digital media now serves to legitimize and promote a customized micropolitics of identity management.

On this new apostolate plane, humanity may be able to shape a new world in which each human soul is captured and reproduced as an autonomous individual bearing affects and identities. The digital infrastructure of the twenty-first century makes it possible for power to operate through an esoteric mathematical means, and for factual material to be manipulated in the interest of advancing the means of control. This volume travels a course from Elizabethan England, to North American slavery, through cybernetic Social Engineering, Cold War counterinsurgency, and the (neo)libertarianism of Silicon Valley in order to arrive at a place where an organizing intelligence that started from an ambition to resourcefully manipulate physical bodies has ended with their profound neutralization.

Social Science, Information Technology, Science, Artificial Intelligence (AI), American Studies, Slavery Studies, Colonialism, Counterinsurgency, Social Control, Legal Tradition, Law and Science, Political Science, Public Policy, Human Rights, Futurism, Identity Management, Data Collection, Date Protection
Release Date: 
September 1, 2019
978-1680531572: Hardcover
Trim Size: 

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