The Antikythera mechanism was among the earliest known computers. Discovered at the Greek island of Antikythera, it combined calculation, orientation and cosmology. For our program, “Antikythera” refers to a computational technology that discloses and accelerates the deeper condition of planetary intelligence.

Computation today poses technical challenges and contradictions; it also demands deep political and philosophical reconsideration. Ultimately, it challenges how intelligence comprehends itself. The scientific idea of “climate change,” for example, is a conceptual accomplishment of planetary scale computation. It is the output of sensors, simulations and supercomputers. As such, computation has made the contemporary notion of the planetary and the ‘Anthropocene’ conceivable, accountable, and actionable.

Technologies generate ideas as much as ideas generate technologies, but today technology has outpaced theory. All too often the response is to superimpose inherited ideas about ethics, scale, governance, and meaning onto situations that in fact demand a different framework. Instead, the Antikythera program will generate new ideas from a direct interdisciplinary engagement with the past, present and potential futures of planetary computation.

Antikythera’s Affiliate Researchers and practitioners develop new philosophy, research and speculative design. The program will host a five-month interdisciplinary and international design-research Studio in early 2023, where Studio Researchers will participate in intensive seminars, design workshops, and prototyping platforms. Studio outputs take form as technology and theory, cinema and code, platforms and policy that steer computation towards a more viable future.

Antikythera is directed by philosopher of technology Benjamin Bratton. Antikythera is developed and housed within the Berggruen Institute, and the Studio is supported by One Project.

Read more about Antikythera in an Interview with Benjamin Bratton in Noema, see the program’s

2023 Reading List

, or visit our group on




Antikythera’s work in speculative philosophy and design focuses on several primary research themes: Synthetic Intelligence, Recursive Simulation, Hemispherical Stacks, Synthetic Catallaxy, and Planetary Sapience.

Synthetic Intelligence

The longer-term implications of machine intelligence, particularly as seen through the lens of artificial language.

AI and the Philosophy of AI have evolved in a tight coupling, informing and delimiting one another. Our vocabulary’s ability to describe what artificial language is and is not marks a threshold where philosophy of AI must invent a new framework.

Synthetic Intelligence traces the implications of artificial intelligence, particularly through cognitive infrastructures such as large language models. Antikythera explores the path cleared for the philosophy of synthetic intelligence by the externalization of thought in technical systems. What is reflected back is not necessarily human-like. The view is beyond anthropomorphic notions of AI and toward fundamental concern with machine intelligence as, in the words of Stanisław Lem, an existential technology.

Specific areas of focus for the Antikythera program will work on large foundational models, natural and artificial language, models of mind, animal cognition, urban automation, machine sensing, anthropic bias, and the global history of machine intelligence beyond standard Western narratives. The questions posed must be drawn from diverse cultures and contexts but also invented in concert with the ongoing evolution of intelligence in all its guises. The planetary future of AI extends and alters conceptions of artificiality and what intelligence’s provenance may be.  

Recursive Simulations

The emergence of simulation as an epistemological technology, from scientific simulation to VR/AR.

We live in an era of highly politicized simulations, for good and ill. The Antikythera program considers computational simulations as experiential, epistemological, scientific and political forms and develops a framework to understand these in relation to one another.

The politics of simulation, more specifically, is based in recursion. Recursive Simulations are those that not only represent the world but which act back upon what they simulate, completing a cycle of sensing and governing.

This research explores machine sensing technologies (vision, sound, touch, etc.), synthetic experiences (including VR/AR), strategic scenario modeling (gaming, agent based systems), active simulations of complex architectures (digital twins), and computational simulations of natural systems enabling scientific inquiry & foresight (climate models and cellular/genomic simulations).

All of these pose fundamental questions about sensing and sensibility, world-knowing and worldmaking. They also have different relations to the real. While scientific simulations pose meaningful correspondence with the natural world and provide access to ground truths that would be otherwise inconceivable, virtual and augmented reality produce embodied experiences of simulated environments that purposefully take leave of ground truth. These two forms of simulation have inverse epistemological implications: one makes an otherwise inaccessible reality perceivable, while the other bends reality to suit what one wants to see. In between is where we live.

Hemispherical Stacks

The multipolar geopolitics of planetary computation.

Many geopolitical dynamics today revolve around computation: hardware, software, networks, and cultural interpretations of digital forms. Data, and more importantly the right to model it, is now a sovereign substance, something over which and from which sovereignty itself is claimed.  

This marks a shift toward a more multipolar geopolitics, filled by hemispheres of influence, and the multipolarization of planetary scale computation into Hemispherical Stacks. These stacks extend from energy sourcing, intercontinental transmission, and cloud platforms to addressing systems, interface cultures and different guises of the “user.”

The ascendance of high end chip manufacturing to the pinnacle of strategic plans — in the US and in the China Strait — is exemplary, and corresponds with the removal of Chinese equipment from Western networks, the removal fo Western platforms from Chinese mobile phones, and so on. But the situation extends further up the stack. The militarization of financial networks in the form of sanctions, the data driven weaponization of populism, and the reformulation of “citizen” as “private User with personal data” all testify to deeper shifts.

As cloud platforms take on roles traditionally performed by modern states, albeit crossing national borders and oceans, conversely states are evolving into cloud platforms. The geopolitical tensions that arise in the friction between these two shifts frame the prospects of planetary governance.

Synthetic Catallaxy

The ongoing organization of artificial computational economics, pricing and planning.

This research area is developed with support of One Project and explores the potential of planetary scale computation as economic structure and infrastructure. The ultrafast calculations that span the globe linking markets not only transmit information but produce and constitute information: about labor, about value, about predicted future value and the value of those predictions. Value becomes information, and information becomes value. But how so?

Does the present macroeconomics represent only one image of the possible networks of value, and as such enforce that particular image? Present models not only represent economic activity, they constitute it. Other economic images are possible and necessary.

The term “Catallaxy” refers to the shared values, knowledge, information, and communication of those participating in a market economy. Contemporary cloud and commerce platforms complicate any strong distinction between planned and market economies, with many setting prices, planning infrastructure, and modeling and generating demand in real time. These platforms represent, in this way at least, a kind of Synthetic Catallaxy.

The Antikythera agenda presumes that the economic genres of the next century will not be a simple extrapolation of the present, nor will they be necessarily legible through the now traditional lenses of public vs. private, state vs. market, top-down vs. bottom-up,  centralized vs. decentralized, pre-vs. post. A different architecture of economic information will be produced, modeled, circulated and expressed. 

Planetary Sapience

The evolutionary emergence of natural/artificial intelligence, and how it must now conceive and compose a viable planetarity.  

Planetary Sapience convenes around the role of computation in the discovery of the planetary as a condition, and the emergence of planetary intelligence in various forms.

The Antikythera program will conjoin two connotations of the term “planetarity”: one scientific/astronomical and another normative/philosophical. The first sense of planetary is the geophysical entity from which all terrestrial thought emerges, the second sense includes the deliberate and deliberative composition that is inspired by thought comprehending itself in such terms and grasping its implications.

The present historical moment seems interminable but may be fleeting. It is defined by a paradoxical challenge. How can the ongoing emergence of planetary intelligence comprehend its own evolution and the astronomical preciousness of sapience, and simultaneously recognize itself in the reflection of the violence from which it emerged and against which it struggles to survive?

Put directly, what future would make this past worth it? As the evolution of planetary intelligence was grounded in cascading centuries of pilotless destruction, its future is now existentially entwined with a radically different career for composition, foresight and order-giving. Taking this seriously demands a different sort of speculative and practical philosophy, and a corresponding sort of computation.