Katherine Hayles (Duke) will be presenting a lecture titled The Emergence of Nonconscious Cognition
2 March 2015, 18.00 for 18.15, ER140, Elvet Riverside 1

Traditionally, the human brain has been associated with consciousness and (since Freud) the unconscious. However, at a lower level of neuronal processing, cognitive tasks are carried out by what Antonio Damasio calls the “proto-self,” inaccessible to consciousness and completely nonconscious. This opens the door to re-think the relation between humans, animals, and technical devices in terms of the cognitive nonconscious. The program in Artificial Intelligence to create conscious computers has not succeeded and is, in my view, unlikely to succeed any time soon. Nevertheless, a wide range of autonomous and embedded computational devices and systems routinely carry out cognitively sophisticated tasks. Understanding these as nonconscious cognition enables us to trace the similarities and differences between the strategies employed by all the cognizers on the planet: humans, animals, and technical devices. Moreover, it provides nuanced and sophisticated ways to consider emergent effects arising from their interactions.

This lecture is followed by a workshop:
3 March, IAS Seminar Room, 16.00-18.00 Cosin’s Hall

Emergence and the ecology of automated trading algorithms by Katherine Hayles
With the exponential increase in financial trades made by automated algorithms, 70% of all trades are now executed by algorithms operating at micro-temporal regimes inaccessible to humans. The algorithms are able to sense what competing algorithms intend to do, giving rise to complex social dynamics in which the faster, more aggressive algorithms hunt in packs, looking for “whales” (large orders) that they can out-bid and manipulate to their advantage. With the stock market’s transition to a machine-machine ecology rather than the older human-machine ecology, emergent effects arise that undermine the stability and robustness of the entire global financial system. This talk will explore the implications of these developments as a case study in the interactions of technical cognitive nonconscious systems with the human systems in which they are embedded.

For more information contact Professor Nicholas Saul or visit the IAS events web page.


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