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Friday Lecture with Andrew Pickering: SKETCHES OF ANOTHER FUTURE: CYBERNETICS IN BRITAIN, 1940-2000

29.04.2019 | Tina Pabst

Dato fre 24 maj
Tid 14:00 16:00
Sted Åbogade, Building 5510-103

Andrew Pickering is an internationally recognized leader in the field of science and technology studies. His first degree was with first-class honours in physics from Oxford University (1970). He has two PhDs, one in theoretical elementary particle physics (University College London, 1973), the other in science studies (Edinburgh, 1984). Having spent much of his subsequent career in the US he has both British and American citizenship. In America he was a full professor in the sociology department of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1985-2007) where he served as head of department for four years (2000-4). At Urbana he was also the founder and director of an interdisciplinary graduate program in studies of science, technology, information and medicine. In 2007 he returned to England as professor of sociology and philosophy at the University of Exeter, where he is now professor emeritus, having retired in 2015.



Alongside the ascendancy of neural nets and AI there is growing interest in revisiting the history of cybernetics, and this talk aims to map out an important and very imaginative branch of the field as it developed in Britain from the 1940s to the present. Examples are drawn from the work of leading cyberneticians including Grey Walter, Ross Ashby, Stafford Beer, Gordon Pask, Gregory Bateson and R D Laing in fields as diverse as brain science, psychiatry and antipsychiatry, adaptive robotics, biological computing, management, the arts, entertainment and architecture, including connections to eastern spirituality and the 1960s counterculture. We can understand cybernetic projects and artefacts as ‘ontological theatre’—as staging and acting out for us a nonmodern vision of the world radically different from that of modern science and western commonsense, and the talk seeks to explore the ontological politics of cybernetics, arguing that it aimed at an experimental openness to what the world has to offer us, rather than the grim modernist quest for domination and control—revealing rather than enframing, in Heidegger’s terms.


Central publications:

Constructing Quarks: A Sociological History of Particle Physics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984). 

Science as Practice and Culture (University of Chicago Press, 1992)

The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency and Science (University of Chicago Press, 1995). 
Kybernetik und Neue Ontologien [Cybernetics and New Ontologies] (Berlin: Merve Verlag, 2007).
The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).

Forelæsning / foredrag, Afd. for Digital Design og Informationsvidenskab