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Lecture: N. Katherine Hayles

Oct 5, 2018 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

*Join us before the talk for a special brown bag discussion with N. Katherine Hayles at noon in the Center for 21st Century Studies (Curtin 939).

Please join us for a lecture by N. Katherine Hayles (Duke University) entitled “Computer Cognition: A Cyber/Bio/Semiotic Perspective.” This talk will explore biosemiotics, a field that draws on C. S. Peirce’s semiotics to argue that all living organisms generate and understand meanings appropriate to their contexts, even plants and unicellular organisms. Although these approaches by such theorists of Jesper Hoffmeyer, Wendy Wheeler, and Terrence Deacon has considerable explanatory power, they share a common blind spot in arguing that such signifying capabilities apply only to living organisms, not computers. However, many of their objections to networked and programmed machines creating, disseminating and understanding meanings become moot if the relevant unit is considered to be a dyad of human plus computer rather than either alone. This approach suggests that the human species may be in the midst of entering into a deep symbiosis with computational media. If so, this transformation is far from complete; in many areas of the world, thousands of people have never even seen computational media, much less become intimately dependent on them. Nevertheless, the increasing trend toward globalization is making computational media a necessity for everyday life. Are we undergoing endosymbiosis, where previously independent organisms unite into a single entity, as happened with the absorption of mitochondria by eukaryotic cells? The talk will conclude by exploring the implications of this possibility.


Oct 5, 2018
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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Curtin 175
3243 N Downer Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53211 United States
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