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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Medienwissenschaft

Re-Thinking Computation


Re-Thinking Computation  While in times of "big data" and Deep Learning, most private or academic users of mobile and online media, embedded microprocessors and giant server farms may believe in almost limitless capacities of computation. But in terms of hardware minimization (Moore's law) and software (massively recursive algorithms), insiders already sublimenly feel that something is coming to an end. Media culture is at a crucial bifurcation moment: On the one hand, prospects like quantum computing promise a further escalation of computaitonal power, while at the same time, the limits of algorithmic computability of real world processes (the real subject of Turing's and Gödel's seminal papers) become more evident than ever. The limits of classic computability, though, are not only a techological necessity, but a media-epistmological chance to re-think computation: stimulating forgotten or fothcoming alternatives to conventional computation (like analog computing), making creative, affective use of computational limitations, even questioning computation as such: Is there a media philosophy "after" computation? Media Science, while caring for "humanities of the digital", provides a platform for what at first glance looks like a tautology: re-thinking computation. Three contributors (Thomas Nyckel, Beatrice Fazi, Andrew Adamatzky) will present such topics for discussion: spheres of computability, contingent computation, and prototypes of unconventional computers.


When & Where: Wednesday, 17th october 2018, 2pm-8pm, Media Theater (Georgenstraße 47, 10117 Berlin, room 0.01) (Google Maps)

Host and moderation: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ernst

Organization: Dr. Stefan Höltgen




Time Speaker/Program Title
14:15-14:30 Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ernst Opening
14:30-15:15 Thomas Nyckel (MA) TBA
15:15-16:00 Discussion  
16:00-16:30 Coffee Break  
16:30-17:15 Dr. Beatrice Fazi TBA
17:15-18:00 Discussion  
18:00-18:15 Break  
18:15-19:00 Prof. Dr. Andrew Adamatzky How to make an unconventional computer
19:00-19:45 Discussion  
20:00 End  




Thomas Nyckel: N. N.



Beatrice Fazi: N. N.



Andrew Adamatzky: How to make an unconventional computer

What is unconventional today will be conventional tomorrow.  Designs being standard in the past are seen now as a novelty. Unconventional computing might be seen as a niche for interdisciplinary science, a crossbreed of computer science, physics, mathematics, chemistry, electronic engineering, biology, materials science and nanotechnology. The aims are to uncover and exploit principles and mechanisms of information processing in, and functional properties of, physical, chemical and living systems to develop efficient algorithms, design optimal architectures and manufacture working prototypes of future and emergent computing devices. Theories usually mean nothing, apart of self-gratification of their originators, therefore we focus on the tangible prototypes of unconventional computing devices. We will demonstrate how specialised processors can be manufactured from excitable chemical medium, slime mould, fungi, plants and liquid marbles.



Short Bios:


Thomas Nyckel TBA


M. Beatrice Fazi is Research Fellow in Digital Humanities and Computational Culture at the Sussex Humanities Lab, and a faculty member of the School of Media, Film and Music (University of Sussex). Her background is philosophy. She holds a PhD and an MA from the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths (University of London), and a Laurea in Philosophy from Università degli Studi di Macerata (Italy). Her work explores questions located at the intersection of philosophy, science, technology and culture, and her research interests include media philosophy and theory, digital aesthetics, computation and logic, algorithmic reason, contingency and indeterminacy, critical and cultural theory. Beatrice's research addresses computation as a dynamic and complex mode of ontological and epistemological production. Her primary area of interest is the abstract character of computational systems, and the ways in which the computational method might produce new forms of intelligibility whilst also challenging present and past accounts of sensibility. Her current work investigates the limits and potentialities of formal reasoning in relation to computation, and aims to offer a re-conceptualisation of contingency within formal axiomatic systems vis-à-vis technoscientific notions of incompleteness and incomputability. This research is part of a forthcoming monograph, Contingent Computation (Rowman & Littlefield International), on how indeterminacy shapes the ontological foundation of computational aesthetics. Beatrice has previously taught at Goldsmiths, Anglia Ruskin University and London South Bank University. (Homepage)


Andrew Adamatzky is Professor in Unconventional Computing  in the Department of Computer Science and Director of the Unconventional Computing Laboratory, University of the West of England, Bristol,  UK.  He does research in  reaction-diffusion computing, cellular automata, physarum computing, massive parallel computation, applied mathematics, collective intelligence and robotics, bionics, computational psychology, non-linear science, novel hardware, and future and emergent computation. (Homepage)