Simon Denny. Founders Board Game Display Prototype (Detail), 2017.

COGNITIVE CAPITALISM: Neidich, Denny, Popescu, Harney, and Ndikung at the SFSIA Berlin

August 2, 2019 by Niklas Egberts


Niklas Egberts: Let’s start by talking about the central topic of the summer school. What constitutes capitalism’s becoming cognitive? 

Warren Neidich: The mind and the brain are the new factories of the 21st century. We no longer work on assembly lines, producing things with our hands; instead, we work on various platforms on the Internet. There is a term for this new precarious class: it’s called the cognitariat. We are constantly producing data through searching and communicating online. That data, is crucially important to the way that feelings and emotions have become commoditized, all the while creating huge profits for the corporate elite.

The idea of cognitive capitalism is generated by the thought that the brain is not simply inside the skull but is also external to it, consisting of social, cultural, political and technological networks that are constantly evolving. These changing conditions in the world are recorded and activate changes in the mutable architecture of the brain – in a word, neuroplasticity.