CrySP Speaker Series on Privacy

This speaker series is made possible by an anonymous charitable donation in memory of cypherpunks and privacy advocates Len Sassaman, Hugh Daniel, Hal Finney, and Caspar Bowden.

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Hack the Planet! From phone phreaking to subverting planetary infrastructures

David Murakami Wood, Queen's University

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December 1, 2016 2:30pm, in MC 5501


Neil Brenner and Christian Schmid have already made a strong case that the urban can now be seen as a planetary condition. And, using the information systems architecture metaphor of 'the stack', Benjamin Bratton has recently issued a persuasive call for thinking of computing as a planetary condition too. Enabled by planetary urbanism, pervasive networked communications and ubiquitous surveillance, the planet is on a trajectory to becoming a cybernetic system, with computing interpenetrating existing social and ecological systems. In critical political economic terms, the emerging planetary era shows no signs of enabling anything other than an even more vicious and exploitative form of capitalism than before. But cybernetic systems can be hacked. And they perhaps need to be if human life on Earth is to persist in socially and environmentally just ways. This speculative intervention builds on work on the author's previous and current work in four areas — environmental justice, global surveillance, infrastructure hacking and science fiction — to consider the ways in which trajectories of hacking practice could develop.


Educated at Oxford and Newcastle, David Murakami Wood is currently Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada. He is a widely published specialist in the sociology and geography of surveillance and security in cities from a global comparative perspective, with a particular focus on Japan, Brazil, Canada and the UK. He is also a leading organizer in the field of surveillance studies as the Editor-in-Chief of the international, open-access, peer-reviewed journal, Surveillance & Society, the co-Editor of Surveillance Studies: A Reader from Oxford University Press (2017) and Editor of the forthcoming Handbook of Cities and Security from Edward Elgar, as well as a consultant and in-demand media commentator on surveillance issues.