Techno-culture: Historic and Philosophical Perspectives

Instructor: Erik Davis

Humanity’s impact on the planet is now so extensive that some argue we have entered a fundamentally new chronological era: the Anthropocene. At the same time, the anthropos who is driving this transition is arguably being driven by techne: the extraordinary power and increasing intelligence of technology, including robotics, networked digital media, sensing and surveillance devices, and remarkable computing machines. The purpose of this course is to explore and generate creative and critical ways of understanding and anticipating the ongoing relationship between technology and human culture. Though the course will engage some practical issues, its central goal is to develop the sorts of critical tools and integral frameworks of meaning that will enable us to see through the hype, to shape more productive questions, and to best strategize and invent our personal and collective course through our increasingly science-fictional society.

Course Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  1. Conceptually situate current technological and media developments within a historical context informed by developments in technology, consciousness, and culture .
  2. Reflect constructively and critically on their own engagement with technology and media.
  3. Produce readable and well-argued texts which analyze and creatively engage issues in technoculture.
  4. Evaluate and identify some of the deeper philosophical and psychological implications of past and current cultural reflections on technology.
  5. Integrate multiple and even contradictory perspectives into an integral, multi-dimensional view of technology and media.
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