Orit Halpern and Robert MitchellJun 4, 2023
The Smartness Mandate
MIT Press 2023
Over the last half century, "smartness"—the drive for ubiquitous computing—has become a mandate: a new mode of managing and governing politics, economics, and the environment. Smart phones. Smart cars. Smart homes. Smart cities. The imperative to make our world ever smarter in the face of increasingly complex challenges raises several questions: What is this "smartness mandate"? How has it emerged, and what does it say about our evolving way of understanding—and managing—reality? How have we come to see the planet and its denizens first and foremost as data-collecting instruments?
In The Smartness Mandate (MIT Press, 2023), Orit Halpern and Robert Mitchell radically suggest that "smartness" is not primarily a technology, but rather an epistemology. Through this lens, they offer a critical exploration of the practices, technologies, and subjects that such an understanding relies upon—above all, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Orit Halpern is Lighthouse Professor and Chair of Digital Cultures and Societal Change at Technische Universität Dresden.
Robert Mitchell is Professor of English at Duke University.
Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network.