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Old 06-19-2020, 07:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The Critical Engineering Manifesto

https://criticalengineering.org/

The Critical Engineering Working Group
Berlin, October 2011-2019
Julian Oliver
Gordan Savičić
Danja Vasiliev

THE CRITICAL ENGINEERING MANIFESTO

0. The Critical Engineer considers Engineering to be the most transformative language of our time, shaping the way we move, communicate and think. It is the work of the Critical Engineer to study and exploit this language, exposing its influence.

1. The Critical Engineer considers any technology depended upon to be both a challenge and a threat. The greater the dependence on a technology the greater the need to study and expose its inner workings, regardless of ownership or legal provision.

2. The Critical Engineer raises awareness that with each technological advance our techno-political literacy is challenged.

3. The Critical Engineer deconstructs and incites suspicion of rich user experiences.

4. The Critical Engineer looks beyond the "awe of implementation" to determine methods of influence and their specific effects.

5. The Critical Engineer recognises that each work of engineering engineers its user, proportional to that user's dependency upon it.

6. The Critical Engineer expands "machine" to describe interrelationships encompassing devices, bodies, agents, forces and networks.

7. The Critical Engineer observes the space between the production and consumption of technology. Acting rapidly to changes in this space, the Critical Engineer serves to expose moments of imbalance and deception.

8. The Critical Engineer looks to the history of art, architecture, activism, philosophy and invention and finds exemplary works of Critical Engineering. Strategies, ideas and agendas from these disciplines will be adopted, re-purposed and deployed.

9. The Critical Engineer notes that written code expands into social and psychological realms, regulating behaviour between people and the machines they interact with. By understanding this, the Critical Engineer seeks to reconstruct user-constraints and social action through means of digital excavation.

10. The Critical Engineer considers the exploit to be the most desirable form of exposure.

Download English language version of Manifesto as a printable PDF
(sha256sum 1b542dc224800f6266334f96b13ba65ea6ecac1cd058d913ae c8910f6ce3d09f).

Copyright Oliver, Savičić, Vasiliev 2011-2017, GNU Free Documentation License v1.3.

Critical Engineering intensive training | Announcement Newsletter

Workshops: NETWORKSHOP, UNIX CLI, OTHERNET

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Old 06-19-2020, 07:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Mostly, a European group of computer engineers it seems to me, they collaborate with artists, activists, and writers. Here is a short video presentation from, I think, a 2018 conference by the group.

https://vimeo.com/294955998
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Old 06-19-2020, 08:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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And this interview with one of the authors of the "manifesto" ...

Critical Engineering: An interview with Julian Oliver ยท Avant.org

Oliver's final comment in the interview, which is mostly about technological transparency, is this:

"Engineering needs to break up with its own narrative that it exists only in service to science and industry. Engineering has a utility addiction and there needs to be at least some measure of a dialogic, critically productive relationship with the practice. It’s a dangerous world if engineering is not allowed to become a critical practice — a discursive practice that can own its cultural heritage and impact."
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Old 06-20-2020, 12:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
"Engineering needs to break up with its own narrative that it exists only in service to science and industry. Engineering has a utility addiction and there needs to be at least some measure of a dialogic, critically productive relationship with the practice. It’s a dangerous world if engineering is not allowed to become a critical practice — a discursive practice that can own its cultural heritage and impact."
Is that a threat? This strikes me as slathering a thick layer of politics onto engineering. Remember Gamergate?
Quote:
0. The Critical Engineer considers Engineering to be the most transformative language of our time, shaping the way we move, communicate and think. It is the work of the Critical Engineer to study and exploit this language, exposing its influence.
Maybe instead of 'exploiting' and 'exposing' just design specifications?

I hold R. B. Fuller's engineering philosophy in higher regard. Quoth the DDG:
Quote:
Buckminster Fuller's Common Sense Philosophy of Life ...
https://comprehensophy.org/buckminster-fuller-life/
Buckminster Fuller's work was diverse and prolific, but there was an approach and a set of principles working as the common thread. His work as an inventor, theorist, designer, and philosopher was all predicated on the value of viewing things in their appropriate context, which was usually a much larger context than most people are used to, like the planet, our species, and the universe.

Buckminster Fuller's Common Sense Philosophy of Life ...
https://hackernoon.com/buckminster-f...e-8825310732e2
Buckminster Fuller's legacy is buoyed by the current trend of sustainability, for which he was the foremost pioneer. But some of the basic principles that allowed him to approach life and inform his work are, in my view, among his greatest contributions. His simple, common sense, practical philosophy of life would transform the world for the ...
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Old 06-20-2020, 01:17 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by freebeard View Post
Is that a threat? This strikes me as slathering a thick layer of politics onto engineering. Remember Gamergate?

Maybe instead of 'exploiting' and 'exposing' just design specifications?

I hold R. B. Fuller's engineering philosophy in higher regard. Quoth the DDG:
No, not a threat. More like a concern, maybe almost a fear, about what engineering introduces into human life if it does not have a critical practice. "Critical" here has a somewhat particular meaning that, while not political in the narrower sense of party politics or government, is nonetheless about power in social and economic life. It is a different perspective than what Fuller seems to be about. Critical perspectives would not be looking for a singular "planetary" context with prescriptive implications, as referenced in one of your links re: Fuller. That would be because of assumptions embedded in the definition of the context. Similarly, "common sense" would not be a prescriptive rhetorical figure because of how notions of common sense are cultural and constructed, even though they seem natural to us.

By exploit, I think they mean a pathway for software hacking. But I am not sure.

I find this working group interesting, but I do not post it here to endorse it or promote it. I would say though, that the emergent field Fuller seemed to be about would be a field of activity these "critical engineers" are also interested in. Your identification of the overlapping field of interest between the two is neat.
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Old 06-20-2020, 01:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
By exploit, I think they mean a pathway for software hacking. But I am not sure.
It's the thin edge of their wedge. Monkey-wrenching and trolling.

I'm just going by what you posted about them. But I can see the pattern.

End Federal Funding for Critical Theory in Higher Education
Created by M.L. on June 20, 2020

Quote:
Critical Theory and its descendants are destroying the United States of America from the inside. These courses/degree programs add no value to the American economy, and actively work to divide the country.

End all Federal grants, loans, or assistance to these disciplines - and restore the value of our once prestigious institutions.
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet...gher-education
It's only a petition. They have one month to get 100,000 signatures.

edit:
Currently listening to Joe Rogan interviewing Brett Weinstein. It about critical theory and how 'science is racist'. https://youtu.be/pRCzZp1J0v0

Quote:
Critical perspectives would not be looking for a singular "planetary" context with prescriptive implications
Fuller didn't consider a singular context, he re-considered "an Integral of Truths". He rewrote the Lord's Prayer every night as a self-discipline.

Look at what I found — a seven minute Youtube video from 2011 with only 19[+] views!

Rethinking_The_Lord's_Prayer_by_Buckminster_Fuller .flv
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Old 06-20-2020, 02:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Somebody is clearly pretty defensive about discourses on ethics and power. I'd say that ethicists can contribute quite a lot to the economy if they prevent wasteful and destructive errors. And ethics in engineering is a part of the curriculum in at least some engineering schools it seems. To me, EM's interest in fuel economy is also an ethical interest. My interest in efficiency of these vehicles is not just the money but a bunch of other interests and priorities, too. Many are simply personal values (learning, for example). EM discussions on efficiency often critically analyse marketing, regulation, and design in order to understand them intrinsically but also to consider what is valuable or desireable for drivers, the environment, or the economy. Those are at least potentially ethics conversations on The Good, benefit, beauty, or right and ought. That seems to be part of what Fuller was about in the descriptions you provided and it's clearly an implied aspect of this "critical engineering" idea.
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Old 06-20-2020, 04:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I look at this manifesto as having language and assumptions with a particular humanist flavor. There are professional standards and legal requirements for due diligence especially in Quality Assurance. I have a Judeo-Christian world view which has led me to measuring human activity by how it improves Safety, Productivity, Quality, and Respect. Technology as material objects have no sense of morality. Economic and social goals that employ technology have moral implications.
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Old 06-20-2020, 06:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Somebody is clearly pretty defensive about discourses on ethics and power. I'd say that ethicists can contribute quite a lot to the economy if they prevent wasteful and destructive errors.
'Ethicist' is moving the goalpost. The information you provided suggests critical theory is involved. So I looked deeper:

https://discourse.criticalengineering.org/

This sounds more like 2600 or the Chaos Computer Club. ...without looking further.
Quote:
That seems to be part of what Fuller was about in the descriptions you provided and it's clearly an implied aspect of this "critical engineering" idea.
Procrustean Bed much?
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Old 06-20-2020, 10:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grant-53 View Post
... Technology as material objects have no sense of morality. Economic and social goals that employ technology have moral implications.
The hacking aspects of the Critical Engineering working group are less interesting to me than something else, which I think I see related to your point here, Grant-53. It's not just that humans use technology. It is also that the technology becomes a big part of our economic and social context--almost as if it is using us. Cars almost dominate everyday life in Southern California, where I live, and so I can almost feel what they mean when they write that technologies expand "into social and psychological realms, regulating behaviour between people and the machines they interact with..." I am less interested in digital code than in the whole machine, especially these cars we hack and use as the basis for this online community. There have always been profound moral implications to cars in our culture: like the machine-mediated sexuality and competition in the movie "American Graffiti."

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