Thinking Technologies: An Artificial History of Natural Intelligence

25 Sep 2014
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

470 Stephens Hall

Event Type

David Bates
Professor and Chair of Rhetoric Department, University of California, Berkeley

The history of psychology and cognitive science since the Second World War has been intimately linked with the development of artificial intelligence and cybernetics. In this context, the natural intelligence of the human mind is either simulated by some kind of artificial entity, or is understood as a form of technology — an “information processing machine.” Recent attempts to bridge the gap between natural and artificial thinking have emphasized the relationship between mind and technology, as in for example the “extended mind” philosophy of Andy Clark, the actor-network theory of Bruno Latour et al., or the cyborg fantasies of the posthuman. However, all of these hybrid concepts maintain a fundamental distinction between natural and artificial thought. Here, I will propose that a history of “thinking technologies” demands a more radical perspective, namely the theory that human thinking begins with its own technologization. Deploying some philosophical and anthropological ideas concerning technogenesis, I will ask, what are the implications for thinking about artificial intelligence once we recognize that human thought is conditioned itself by technology? Surprisingly perhaps, it will be clear that a modern notion of human freedom arises from the conditions of automaticity imposed by our own technologization.

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Berkeley Program in Science and Technology Studies • Office for the History of Science and Technology
Office for the History of Science and Technology

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