Revisited: "Digital Doomsday: A Perspective from the Pathology Called Europe"

05 Apr, 2017

Revisited: "Digital Doomsday: A Perspective from the Pathology Called Europe"

The Berkeley Center for New Media was fortunate to be able to host Jan De Vos as part of its History and Theory of New Media Lecture Series on April 4, 2017. De Vos is a postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University in Belgium and critiques (neuro)psychology, (neuro)psychologisation, and, related to this, the subject of the digital turn.

In "Digital Doomsday: A Perspective from the Pathology Called Europe," De Vos asked the compelling question of whether we can remove psychology and (neuro)psychologization from technology. While technologies are supposed to be free of self-reflection and psychologization through data and algorithms, De Vos turns to the history of computing to evidence how intertwined psychology and Freudian doctrines truly are with the development of these technologies. Alan Turing's test, after all, which evaluated whether a computer could pass for a human, relied on psychology to determine what it meant <em>to be human</em>. Referencing Norbert Wiener, Alan Turing, and Marvin Minsky, De Vos argues that technologists attempts to go beyond automatization to open up creativity, plasticity, and pathology, led them to resort to psychologisms and psychologizations by which they gave up the deconstructive potential of psychoanalysis.

De Vos' inspiration is continental philosophy, Freudian and Lacanian theory, and culture-and ideology critique. He has written several monographs, including: Psychologisation in times of Globalisation (Routledge, 2012), and The Metamorphoses of the Brain – Neurologisation and its Discontents (Palgrave, 2016) and is currently preparing a book with Routledge entitled: “Digitalizing subjectivity: From psychologisation and neurologisation to digitalization… and back”.

Check out the photos on Flickr here!