The Origins and Future of Surveillance under Information Capitalism

A Public Talk Hosted by BICAR (Beirut Institute for Critical Analysis and Research)
August 25, 2016, 6 pm, T-Marbouta Library, Hamra Street.

What forces produced by capitalism are driving surveillance over the last few decades? Given current trends, will we enter a post-capitalist world without work or money – or a new regime of personalized fascism? Taking as its foundation world-systems theory and communization theory, we’ll trace the history of surveillance from its origins in changes in economic policy that occurred in response to capitalist crisis in the 1970s to its current incarnation as a globalized mode of control of social change for a world that faces a  ‘permanent state of exception’ and an ever-growing surplus population. There are also surprisingly profound philosophical and metaphysical assumptions behind the rise of machine-learning that will be delved into, including the role of Carnap in artificial intelligence and Heidegger’s influence on Google via Winograd.  Lastly, we’ll outline strategies and tactics that have developed for resistance in an era of surveillance, including the use of cryptography in encrypted messaging, privacy-enhancing technologies such as Tor, and tools for political self-organization. This work will broadly critique the analysis of information capitalism such as Negri, Dean, and Fuchs as well as that of de-politicized  ‘new media’ theory.

Dr. Harry Halpin (MIT/INRIA) works on issues of security and privacy, including the development of the Web Cryptography API at the W3C and the NEXTLEAP Project on decentralized systems. Previously, he received a Ph.D. in Informatics from University of Edinburgh, and completed his postdoctoral studies under Bernard Stiegler. This is joint work with Elijah Sparrow of