TECHNO-LOGICAL LEAKAGE

Entry Point: Trustee Savings Bank’s homepage TSB.co.uk,

IP address: 185.189.250.13, Stroud, GL5, UK

Accident: IT Meltdown, 22 April 2018 

Techno-logical leakage is a rift that exposes the motives embedded in a machine. Technology functions to fulfil desired outcomes yet the seamlessness of the interface conceals these exteriorised intentions, as described by Bernard Stiegler.[1] For instance, a mobile banking application only makes visible an abstracted and partial view of the untold automation of debt creation. The app’s interface becomes (mis)taken for reality and conceals the logics of the underlying processes that only reach the surface during an accident. The accident, as conceptualised by Paul Virilio, manifests itself as a material malfunction, while at a deeper level is driven by a failure of reason: the unrealistic reliance on technology to function flawlessly in accordance with our desired ends.[2] When the bank’s exploitative machinery malfunctions and its back-end circuitry breaks through the veil of user-friendly interfaces, the public runs into a conceptual contradiction. Error messages and glitches divulge clues of their underpinning algorithms, such as a misconfigured load balancer, which was meant to optimise the acceleration of mobile payments. The interruption of the machine discloses how the predatory speed of banking algorithms far outpace human comprehension. Interrogating the underlying processes of technical malfunctions thus becomes a way to disclose their mechanised desires and social repercussions.

2019, a visual essay

[1] Stiegler, Bernard. Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus. tr. Richard Beardsworth and George Collins. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.

[2] Virilio, Paul. The Original Accident. tr. Julie Rose. Cambridge: Polity, 2007.