[Image: Still from 2001].
For those of you in the Bay Area, the Berkeley Center for New Media is hosting an event on April 3rd that sounds worth checking out. “The Human Computer in the Stone Age: Technology, Prehistory, and the Redefinition of the Human after World War II” is a talk by historian Stefanos Geroulanos. From the event description:
After World War II, new concepts and metaphors of technology helped transform the understanding of human history all the way back to the australopithecines. Using concepts from cybernetics and information theory as much as from ethnology and osteology, scientists and philosophers reorganized the fossil record using a truly global array of fossils, and in the process fundamentally re-conceptualized deep time, nature, and the assemblage that is humanity itself. This paper examines three ways in which technological prehistory, that most distant, speculative, and often just weird field, came to reorganize the ways European and American thinkers and a lay public thought about themselves, their origins, and their future.
This obviously brings to mind the early work of Bernard Stiegler, whose Technics and Time, 1 remains both difficult and worth the read.
In any case, if you happen to attend, let me know how it goes.
(In the unlikely event that you share my taste in electronic music, you might choose to prepare for this lecture by listening to Legowelt’s otherwise unrelated track, “Neolithic Computer.”)
3 thoughts on “Technology, Prehistory, Humanity”
i love the Legowelt track, which i didn’t know! you’re right also to link to 2001—the talk is about the relationship of two traditions: the one exemplified in the opening scene of 2001, about weaponry and violence as linked to tool-use and tool-making, and one that is about feedback scenarios by which some paleontologists/prehistorians tied technology to the remaking of the body. i’ll try to both tie these traditions together and point out their distances which were as significant—
anyway, this all by way of a hello! (& thank you for spreading the word!)
Hey Stefanos — Thanks for the comment. I really wish I could attend this talk. Your work in general looks fascinating.
hi Geoff, coming from you, that’s a serious compliment — thank you! hope we’ll get a chance to meet before too long.