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"Hope Springs Exponential: Anticipation, Human-Machine Relations, and Exponential Politics of an Information Society"

2011-12-17 (Sat) 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

A presentation by Grant Jun Otsuki (PhD candidate, Department of Anthropology, Toronto University) will be presented on Saturday, December 17, 2011.

Title: "Hope Springs Exponential: Anticipation, Human-Machine Relations, and Exponential Politics of an Information Society"

Discussant: Mohacsi Gergely (Researcher, Keio University)



That technology is growing 'exponentially' is nearly a given in the current historical moment. With each passing year, computers become faster, electronic storage units become more capacious, and network capacities multiply. Moore’s Law, a prediction made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965, suggested that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit might double every 18 months. This is said to have held true up until the present, providing the primary engine powering the information economy.

According to transhumanist futurist Ray Kurzweil, the exponential is also marker of the limit of human knowledge and capability: humans are linear creatures who can only barely imagine the power of exponential growth. In his view, humanity faces an existential crisis: it must become exponential by fusing with exponentially growing technology, or remain linear and obsolete as the rest of the technological world flies by. The exponential curve is a visual and narrative device for imagining near and distant futures. It points to the limits of our biology and the vastness of the human-machine future; the exhilaration of riding the accelerating wavefront of technological evolution and the terror of facing improbable catastrophes--which, as our speed through human history increases, become near certainties. Through the 'exponential,' these and other possible futures come to weigh on actors in the present.

In this paper, I draw on an initial analysis of my fieldwork among transhumanists in North America to sketch the outlines of a "regime of anticipation" (Adams, Murphy and Clarke, 2009) which I tentatively call 'exponential'--a politics which joins sensual and cognitive interfaces of human bodies and information technologies with the hopes and anxieties of living in an information society. Drawing on my fieldwork, I will discuss and offer the exponential as a figure for thinking about how particular visions of the future are experienced and acted upon by transhumanists living in North America.

Adams, V., Murphy, M., & Clarke, A. E. (2009). Anticipation: Technoscience, life, affect, temporality. Subjectivity, (28), 246-265.

Date: 2011-12-17 (Sat) 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Organizer: Ethnography of Science and Technology Seminar, Graduate School of Human Sciences
Venue: East Wing 106, Graduate School of Human Sciences
Registration: Not necessary.
Contact: Prof. Atsuro Morita

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