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Presentation: The Synthetic and the Real, with Benjamin Bratton


The ‘dəəp authentic’ theme invites comparisons to deep learning, deep time, deep ecology and, perhaps, the deep state. Deepness abounds. This talk, however, will argue for the depth of what may seem to be quite inauthentic: the artificial and the synthetic. These are not the same, but they are both important. To be sure, the responses to anthropogenic climate change must be equally anthropogenic, and to be successful, they must be adamantly and unapologetically artificial. The nature/culture divide didn’t protect what it called nature, even as it elevated the notion to a transcendental ideal. But if there really is no nature, does that also imply that there is also no culture? Are both equally artificial? Both equally physical, material, earthly? The implications of these questions are decisive for the social and ecological futures of synthetic biology, synthetic intelligence, as well as the guiding artifices, abstractions and impulses of art. Benjamin Bratton’s lecture, transmitted from the US, will be followed by a Q&A with Gabriela Korwin-Piotrowska.