Cite as: Christoph Holzhey, Introduction to the lecture Orit Halpern, Neural ‘Freedoms’: Population, Choice, and Machine Learning, ICI Berlin, 27 March 2023, video recording, mp4, 09:56 <>
27 Mar 2023


By Christoph Holzhey

Video in English

Format: mp4
Length: 00:09:56
First published on:
Rights: © ICI Berlin

Part of the Lecture

Neural ‘Freedoms’: Population, Choice, and Machine Learning / Orit Halpern

This talk interrogates the history of models of decision making and agency in machine learning, neo-liberal economic thought, and finance in order to interrogate how reactionary politics, population and sex, and technology are being reformulated in our present. While the relationship between the Right, post-truth, suggestion algorithms, and social media has long been documented, rarely has there been extensive investigation of how ideas of choice and freedom become recast in a manner amenable to machine automation and to the particular brands of post-1970s alt-Right discourses. An analysis of this history demonstrates a new logic within algorithmic and artificial intelligent rationalities that intersects with, but is also not merely a recursive repetition of, earlier histories of eugenics and racism. This situation provokes serious challenges to political action, but also to our theorization of histories of race and sex capitalism. 

Orit Halpern is Full Professor and Chair of Digital Cultures and Societal Change at Technische Universität Dresden. Her work bridges the histories of science, computing, and cybernetics with design. She completed her Ph.D. at Harvard. She has held numerous visiting scholar positions including at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, IKKM Weimar,  and at Duke University. She is currently working on two projects. The first is a history of automation, intelligence, and freedom;  the second project examines extreme infrastructures and the history of experimentation at planetary scales in design, science, and engineering.

She has also published widely in many venues including Critical Inquiry, Grey Room, and Journal of Visual Culture, and E-Flux. Her first book Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason (2015) investigates histories of big data, design, and governmentality. Her second book The Smartness Mandate (with Robert Mitchell, 2023) is a genealogy of the current obsession with smart technologies and artificial intelligence.  


ICI Berlin
(Click for further documentation)

Organized by

ICI Berlin