On Algorithmic Catastrophe
Yuk Hui

The proliferation of automation and artificial intelligence partially characterizes our posthuman condition. Algorithms are taking charge of various operations (should they be independent and intertwined) to the extent that an accident can easily leads to systemic failures, as Norbert Wiener has already warmed in the 1960s that the penalty for errors of foresight “will be enormously increased as automatization comes into its full use.” These catastrophes are demonstrated in many events, most obviously the “flash crashes” of the financial market. It is in this context that we understand of having entered an epoch of catastrophe as the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy hinted in his L'Equivalence des catastrophes : (Après Fukushima). This talk proposes to understand the algorithmic catastrophe from a historical-metaphysical investigation of the concept of contingency, and therefore it reposes on two fundamental questions: what is an algorithm and how can we conceptualize the algorithmic contingency?

Yuk Hui is currently researcher of the DFG project Techno-ecologies of Participation at Leuphana University where he also teaches in the institute of philosophy. He has published research articles in periodicals such as Metaphilosophy, Research in Phenomenology, Parrhesia, Angelaki, Cahiers Simondon, Implications Philosophiques, Jahrbuch Technikphilosophie, among others. He is co-editor of 30 Years after Les Immatériaux: Art, Science and Theory (Meson Press, 2015), author of two monographs, On the Existence of Digital Objects (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) and The Question Concerning Technology in China. An Essay in Cosmotechnics (Urbanomic, 2017).