The Coming War on General Computation
Serpentine Gallery presents a talk by internet theorist, blogger, journalist and science fiction writer Cory Doctorow.
Over the past 20 years the internet has become an increasingly vital tool in our daily lives, a place to store, share and distribute everything from personal data to personal memories; from the fruits of creative labour to work spreadsheets; from software programmes to television programmes. Consequently, the policies that regulate the ‘net have been dominated by the war on copyright.
In The Coming War on General Computation, Doctorow argues that in the current century the war of regulation will shift from the online to the general purpose computers that surround us – be they laptops, cars or hearing aids – and at stake will be the freedom, fortune, and privacy of the entire human race.
For this video, the artists Ben Vickers and Daniel Swan have used Doctorow’s talk as a starting point, producing a work that not only illustrates Doctorow’s concerns regarding the very real dangers of a world governed by computers – where our privacy and security is increasingly compromised under the guise of protection – but also mimics the distracted and multifarious way we act when online. A lineage of instant messaging applications provides an ongoing transcript of the talk while pop-up images punctuate the monologue.
The original talk took place on 29th June as part of the Park Night series in the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei. This video is part of an ongoing series that documents the Serpentine Gallery summer programme, exploring the central theme of memory and its relevance to contemporary life.
You can see the rest of the films in the Serpentine Gallery’s Park Nights series by clicking here.