digitalculturesnews TODAY 2015-2016 Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Surveillance Democracies Presents Finn Brunton of NYU–Privacy/Security and Other Category Errors


The Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Surveillance Democracies is delighted to present our final speaker of the Fall Semester. Please join us!

Felicitous Questions from the Interrogator: Privacy/Security and Other Category Errors

Finn Brunton, Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University


12:00 pm – 1:00 pm | King Hall Rm 1301 | Open to the Public | Lunch Provided

Abstract: This talk starts with an analysis of an article from a 1975 issue of Computers and People and ends at Gliese 581 in the constellation Libra, stopping on the way to consider the history of artificial intelligence tests and human-computer communication, obfuscation strategies, deep learning research, theories of the control society, and the Ashley Madison hack. The goal is to thoroughly consider the question of the trade-off between privacy and security as a kind of category error, and explore parallels with the application of theories of mind, to propose some provocative new approaches to thinking about privacy as an idea and as an object.

Finn Brunton is Assistant Professor at New York University Steinhardt’s Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. He is a scholar of the relationships between society, culture and information technology — how we make technological decisions, and deal with their consequences. He focuses on the adoption, adaptation, modification and misuse of digital media and hardware; privacy, information security, and encryption; network subcultures; hardware literacy; and obsolete and experimental media platforms. He is the author of Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet (MIT, 2013), along with numerous articles and talks. Brunton received an M.A. from the European Graduate School (Saas-Fee, Switzerland) and a Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Modern Thought.