Designing for the Unknown with Shannon Mattern

The Designing for the Unknown Lecture Series 2019-2020

‘Data Fantasies and Operational Facts: 5G’s Infrastructural Epistemologies’
Speaker: Prof. Shannon Mattern, the New School, NYC with a response by Prof. Linda Doyle, Dean of Research, Trinity College Dublin.

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The “5G Revolution” promises to deliver lightning-speed connections, immersive entertainment, seamlessly connected sentient things and city systems, high-precision geolocation, and “last mile” coverage for those who’ve historically been marginalised. Yet the realisation of such a datafied dreamworld, where everyone and everything is networked, depends upon cables and trenches, processors and poles. And those material facts are filtered through spatial politics and paranoias at various scales: personal, local, national, and global.

In this talk, Shannon Mattern discusses how 5G’s infrastructural artefacts, as they’re implanted around the world, are called upon to serve multiple functions: as promissory notes of imminent progress; as political tools for private development and deregulation, for nationalisation or global domination; and, for some sceptics, as harbingers of invasion – of our communities, homes, and bodies.

Shannon Mattern is a Professor of Anthropology at The New School for Social Research, New York City. She is the author of The New Downtown Library: Designing with Communities, Deep Mapping the Media City, and Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media. 

This talk is part of the Designing for the Unknown lecture series which aims to bring critical perspectives on the political, ethical, social and environmental issues concerning the design and development of future communications and network technologies. Designing for the Unknown is sponsored by CONNECT, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications, and organised by Fiona McDermott and the Orthogonal Methods Group at CONNECT in Trinity College Dublin.

CONNECT is co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund.

CONNECT is the world leading Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Future Networks and Communications. CONNECT is funded under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres Programme and is co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund. We engage with over 35 companies including large multinationals, SMEs and start-ups. CONNECT brings together world-class expertise from ten Irish academic institutes to create a one-stop-shop for telecommunications research, development and innovation.


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