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HTNM Revisited: Paul Edwards and the Anthropocene

Technology, Space, Reason: Infrastructures of Knowledge in the Anthropocene continued on Friday, October 14th with Paul Edwards offering insights into the impact of humans on the climate in a lecture, followed by a panel on the Anthropocene, featuring Paul Edwards, Bernard Stiegler, and Jenna Burrell, moderated by David Bates.

Paul began his talk with a detailed examination of the physical impact humans have made on the planet, situating the anthropocene in terms of climate change. He then investigated how knowledge infrastructures are currently able to (or unable to) monitor, model, and visualize the technosphere’s role in the planet’s metabolism of energy, materials, and information (including waste!). While the results Paul pointed to were indeed sobering, he offered a hopeful account of ways in which humans can refashion their role. Using logistics as a model to close the loop between the technosphere and the biosphere, Paul suggested several developments already in the field, such as carbon counting. However, he also noted how metrics in many of these areas are incredibly flawed — buying a Prius, for example, in a coal-producing area of the country, actually expends more energy than buying a traditional car. In order to use logistics to alter human behavior, we need to have fuller models. Surprisingly, Paul saw the greatest hope for the future in large industries. He suggested that many of these companies are beginning to shift their environmental practices and that since they have the scale to affect real change, we could see real innovative solutions from these sectors.

The panel discussion was a great opportunity for audience members to delve further into these topics, with questions ranging from the nitty gritty of the data modeling to the wide-ranging of the role of educators in the anthropocene.

Thank you to the Townsend Center for the Humanities, the Dean of Arts and Humanities, the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society, and the Rhetoric Department for such an intellectually inspiring event.

For information on Bernard Stiegler’s talk, read Miyoko Conley’s report.

And check out our photo’s below!

2016 HTNM: Edwards

The History and Theory of New Media Lecture Series brings to campus leading humanities scholars working on issues of media transition and technological emergence. The series promotes new, interdisciplinary approaches to questions about the uses, meanings, causes, and effects of rapid or dramatic shifts in techno-infrastructure, information management, and forms of mediated expression. Presented by the Berkeley Center for New Media, these events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit: http://htnm-berkeley.com

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