Friday, 30 June

Next Society

Fri 30 June | 12:15 - 12:45


Another Galaxy

Speculative Capital: Human Obsolescence, Big Data, and the Future of Labor

We are being replaced by machines. What happened to horses after the invention of the steam engine, is now happening to us. Soon our manual labor will no longer be needed and with the advance of artificial intelligence, intellectual labor will be performed by machines as well. The Institute of Human Obsolescence (IoHO) explores this scenario and tries to ask questions on how to re-position the role of humans, particularly how to cope with a labor-market dominated by machines.

After our first exploration extracting value from what we refer to as ‘biological labor’, we are starting a new research path towards understanding data-production as a form of labor. Human-generated data is a resource already extracted by companies like Google and Facebook, producing vast amounts of capital. Why aren’t we, the data-workers, capitalizing from it? If even jobless workers are generating capital by producing data, are we truly unemployed? Which propositions for our labor rights can we think of?


Manuel Beltrán is an artist, activist, and researcher. His artworks have been featured in museums and galleries in The Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, Germany, Serbia, Italy, France, Austria and Poland. He researches and lectures on contemporary art, activism, contemporary social movements, post-digital culture and new media. As an activist, he was involved in the Indignados movement in Spain, the Gezi Park protests in Turkey and several forms of independent activism and cyber-activism in Europe and beyond. In 2012 he co-founded the art collective Plastic Crowds, since 2013 he is head and co-founder of the nomadic school and artistic organization Alternative Learning Tank and in 2015 founded the Institute of Human Obsolescence. Beltrán lives and works in The Hague.