Thursday 11th April, 2013
9:30am to 10:15am
The introductions of new technologies are rarely seamless and silent affairs. There are the inevitable boosters and utopian dreamers who will tell us and sell us on the notion that this new technology will change our lives, in both big and small ways: we will be cleaner, safer, happier, more efficient, more productive, and of course, more modern with all that implies. The message here is everything will be different, better. There are also the equally inevitable naysayers and dystopian dreamers who worry along equally familiar but slightly different lines: we will be less social, less secure, more isolated, and more homogenous. The message here is everything will be different, but perhaps not so much better. Of course, running in between these larger conversations are the practicalities of living with new technologies — how much does it cost? where does it live? Who should look after it? what will we will do with it? and, in the end, what will we do without it?
Perhaps it is no surprise then that we worry, that new technologies are frequently accompanied by anxiety, and sometimes even fear. In this talk, Genevieve traces the roots of these hopes, fears and anxieties back through our history with machines — Vaucason’s Duck, Edison’s Talking Doll, the tea-cup robots of the Edo-period in Japan, Frankenstein’s monster and Ned Ludd’s polemics are all part of this story. She takes an expansive view, crossing cultures and historical periods, to create a genealogy of our socio-technical anxieties. Ultimately, she suggests a framework for making sense of these anxieties, and in so doing, a new way of thinking about the next generation of technologies we are designing.
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