Borderless Digital Utopias: Embracing the Interconnections between People, Beings, Past, Present, and our Dreams

Lecture: Ramesh Srinivasan

It seems like today is a time of anxiety and perpetual crisis, marked by constructs of division and fragmentation. From the profiteering versus suffering associated with COVID-19 to the false choices offered between neoliberalism and neofascism, we live in a time where it has become easy to assume that conflict, opposition and apathy if not ill will are here to stay. A huge aspect of the dawn of such thinking can be tied to digital technologies of fragmentation, ones that monetize and support the most disconnected yet powerful individuals on our planet while leaving the rest of us to live in bubbles of hysteria, facilitated by dopamine-inducing algorithms that choose the sensational and outrageous. These borders don’t just lie with social media, which has come to take over our news, telephone and media networks, but also in AI systems and invasive biometric technologies that fragment us based on traumas of the past, inducing racist, sexist, classist, and geographic forms of division. Yet is such the inherent destiny of technology, let alone our people and planet? It need not be, I argue, through examples I provide from around the world along with philosophical and conceptual tools that re-imagine systems of all kinds. This opens up a renewed understanding of what technology is itself. This talk paves the way for new sociotechnical utopias that ask us to question what it is to be human, and whether we can truly develop relationships with one another (humans and non-humans) based on mutuality and the underlying spirit and belief that we are all in this together. Far from starting and ending in the domain of speculative theory, I will share numerous examples that point a path forward toward interbeing and interconnection; one that celebrates rather than eradicates or obfuscates different ways of knowing, being, and believing.

Admission free, in English, without translation