Event | ‘Intuition as a ‘Trained Thing: Sensing, Thinking, and Speculating in Computation Cultures’ – Public lecture by Carolyn Pedwell (University of Kent, UK)
Date: 15 December 2022
Location: Utrecht University (Kromme Nieuwegracht 80, Room 0.06)
Organizers: Jeroen Boom and Niels Niessen
Registration: not required, open to all
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
This public lecture is part of the Critical Humanities “Minor Movements” series.
What happens when intuition becomes algorithmic? This talk explores how approaching intuition as a ‘trained thing’ (Berlant, 2011) sheds light on what is at stake socio-politically and ethically in the entanglements of sensorial, cognitive, computational, and corporate processes and (infra)structures that characterize contemporary algorithmic life. Situating the rise of artificial intuition within post-war affective genealogies of human-machine relations – which traverse speculative philosophies, affect theory, management studies, psychology, neuroscience, computer science, and media studies – I tease out critical implications of twentieth century efforts to make intuition a measurable and indexable mode of anticipatory knowledge and decision making. If digital computing pioneers tended to elide the more ambivalent implications of quantifying intuition, this talk asks what computational myths are at play in current accounts of machine learning-enabled sensing, thinking, and speculating and what complexity or chaos is disavowed. I consider how, rather than achieving precision through encountering what Henri Bergson calls “true differences in kind”, artificial intuition may function primarily to extend ontopolitical modes of control as corporations and states seek to translate all human affect and action into profit or political gain. Ultimately, however, I argue that an understanding of more-than-human intuition which grapples meaningfully with the indeterminacy central to digitally-mediated social life must recognize that visceral response is recursively trained in multiple ways with diverse, and often contradictory, effects. Radically re-training intuition requires attending to such contingencies, as well as to the wider ecologies that shape the intelligible and the sensible in computational cultures – and through which new recursive politics and possibilities may emerge.
Carolyn Pedwell is Professor of Cultural Studies and Media at the University of Kent and the author of three monographs: Revolutionary Routines: The Habits of Social Transformation (McGill-Queens UP, 2021); Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy (Palgrave, 2014); and Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice: The Rhetorics of Comparison (Routledge, 2010). She is also the co-editor (with Gregory J. Seigworth) of The Affect Theory Reader II: Worldings, Tensions, Futures (Duke UP, 2023).