Public Talk: Resilient Speculation

ETHOS Lab is pleased to invite you to a public talk by Dr. Orit Halpern on Monday June 11th at 13:00 in Auditorium 4 at IT University, Copenhagen. You can read more about her talk, entitled “Resilient Speculation,” in the abstract below. Please feel free to circulate the invitation to others who might be interested in joining. The public talk will be followed by a seminar on Tuesday. For more information about the seminar, please email Lab Manager in ETHOS Lab Simy Kaur Gahoonia at sgah[at]



Today few terms are more central to policy, planning, or economics than the term “resilience.” From urban planning to stress testing in economic markets, we have come to understand systems as constantly in a state of crisis that needs perpetual management. This paper traces the rise of resilience as a dominant epistemology and practice in environmental management, urban development, and finance. I will argue that resilience has become the dominant discourse by which time and uncertainty are currently being managed in computation, finance, and design. Moreover, resilience has become a new logic making the planet, and its living populations, computationally measurable and representable, and amenable to new forms of technical manipulation and action.

To do so, I will tie together three genealogies: 1) the rise of ecology as an information science, including C.S. Holling’s research into resilience in the management of natural resources and the Club of Rome’s 1970s reports which first used computers to simulate planetary futures. These practices went on to influence population management, industrial design, architecture, and urban planning through figures such as Jay Forrester at MIT and designer Buckminster Fuller, 2) the histories of resilience planning and scenario planning in the energy, urban, and security sectors with focus on organizations such as RAND and Shell Oil that pioneered the practice, and 3) the emergence of noise, cybernetics, and information as central to redefining the agent in economics and finance, concentrating on the late work of Friedrich Hayek, Lawrence Sanders, and Fischer Black and Myron Scholes. By linking these three, seemingly disparate vectors, I intend to create a new topography of the political economy of resilience that links new forms of measurement and datafication of populations with financial logics to produce new forms of governmentality and territory.