Simon’s talk maps the relationship between the processual and developmental temporality of politics in Western modernity and the emerging temporality of technology that revolves around the expectation of a singular transformative event.
Since the early postwar years, the growing disillusionment with ideology and utopian thought and the growing incapacity of the political domain to uphold a feasible vision of the future is accompanied by the rise of a technological promise to deliver change in the human condition. But the emerging technological promise—in transhumanism, biotechnology, genome editing, and artificial intelligence—is not simply a reiteration of the emancipatory political promises of Western modernity. Today’s technological promise is best conceptualized as the prospect of unprecedented change, the expectation of a sudden game-changer event, like that of a technological singularity. Whereas modern political change was directed towards the expected fulfillment of a pre-conceived and desired past potential (rendering even revolutionary political change to be a step in a longer line of development), the unprecedented event of technology is inherently dystopian due to the fact that whatever comes after the singular event is conceived of as escaping human confines, being inaccessible to human cognition. The diverging temporalities of the political and the technological domains pose the question whether the situation is necessarily so. The talk will address the possible futures of the political domain in times when technology promises to deliver unprecedented change.