Date: Thursday 16 March 2017
Venue: EB.G.35, Western Sydney University, Parramatta South campus
Armin Beverungen (with Ann-Christina Lange)
High-Frequency Trading and the Costs of Consciousness
Certain strands of contemporary media theory are concerned with the ways in which computational media environments exploit the 'missing half-second' of human perception and thereby influence, control or exploit humans at an affective level. The 'technological unconscious' of our times remains elusive but is often understood to work at this affective level, and high-frequency trading is regularly provided as a primary illustrative example of these dynamics. In this paper we would like to challenge and complicate this account of the relation between consciousness, affect and media technologies by focusing in detail on the ways in which the 'costs of consciousness' are accounted for and negotiated in high-frequency trading. We do so by drawing on the recent work of N. Katherine Hayles, which allows us to conceive of financial markets as complex human-machine ecologies marked by distributed cognition. We suggest that the necessary 'stupidity' of high-frequency trading algorithms as well as competition for now ensure that financial markets do not resemble the bleakest visions of cybernetic control.
Armin Beverungen is the Junior Director of the Digital Cultures Research Lab at the Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University Lüneburg. He studied organisation studies and sociology, completed his PhD on the reception of Marxism in the business school at the University of Leicester, previously worked as a senior lecturer in organisation studies at the University of the West of England, and was for 10 years a member of the editorial collective of ephemera: theory & politics in organisation. He now is a member of the editorial collective of spheres: Journal for Digital Cultures, and an editor of the book series Digital Cultures (Meson Press). He works at the interstices of media and organisation theory, currently focusing on algorithmic management. An issue of The Fibreculture Journal he co-edited with Florian Sprenger on 'computing the city' is forthcoming in spring 2017. In February/March 2017, Armin is a Visiting Fellow at ICS.