Steven Gonzalez Monserrate received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the History, Anthropology, Science, Technology & Society (HASTS) program. His dissertation project, “Cloud Ecologies”, is an ethnographic investigation of data centers and their environmental and political impacts in New England, Arizona, Puerto Rico, Iceland, and Singapore. Steven holds an MA in Anthropology from Brandeis University and a BA in Feminist Anthropology from Keene State College. Steven is also an artist, filmmaker, and a speculative fiction writer (under the byline E.G. Condé).
As a postdoctoral researcher with the Fixing Futures RTG, Steven investigates data storage infrastructures as “technologies of anticipation”. Data storage media stabilize information for future information retrieval. In the case of data centers, this is an energy-intensive, thermodynamic process that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and desertification depletion at a steadily increasing rate. Amid the uncertainties of the Anthropocene and the growth of infrastructure-reliant AI, technological alternatives to silicon-based computer systems are emerging that promise a significantly reduced environmental footprint and vastly superior media durability. Embedded as an ethnographer within the laboratories, art studios, and the offices of the start-ups developing molecular (synthetic DNA) and 5D ceramic (digital cuneiform) storage systems, Steven’s research will document how data storage futures are anticipated, stabilized, and repaired in expert and artistic domains of practice