Friday, July 23, 2004

Science, Technology and Society

4S-EASST Conference - Public Proofs : Science, Technology and Democracy
26-28 August 2004, École des Mines, Paris

Spacing, Timing and Organizing
The notions of space and time are concepts that have a long historical status and feature as dominant issue within many aspects of our lives, such as attempts to achieve transportation without deformation. However, this requires an exceptional amount of work and energy. In other words, while the well alignment of intermediaries and circulation of immutable mobiles (e.g. rulers,standards, etc) may provide the image and embodiment of smoothness, constancy, and time and space as existing in distinct and separate forms, the ability to travel without mutability is something which is rare and expensive and can require a great deal of work. Thus, rather than viewing time and space as existing in some a priori or fixed form, the aim of this session is to explore the complex processes of mediation and negotiation with regard to the creation and proliferation of timings, spacings and organising, and effects of isochrony and isotopy (Latour 1999). We need therefore to provide an in-depth examination of this complicated process of proliferation and the complexity of relations that underlie this process, in order to understand, account for, and articulate this process. More specifically, several concerns need to be considered.

The Technological Animal

Science studies has in recent years focused on surprising exchanges and mixtures between machines and humans. Rather than simply celebrating the range of "cyborgs" and "hybrids" that the contemporary world has brought into existence, we wish to analyze the ways in which these new investigations alter existing conceptions of humanity and social organization. In particular we want to look at the ways in which technology serves as an enhancement or extension of existing human capacities-- as an externalization of sensory and motor organs. We are interested in the explicit definition or implicit understanding of the human as the animal which alters its environment by means of technique or technology. And thereby alters itself. As much as the variable meaning of "the human" is in question here, the concept of "technology" may also be subject to different parameters and inflections. In calling this session together, we hope to accumulate materials for comparisons and contrasts between different articulations of "humans as the technological animal", and to examine the consequences of the different technological "adaptations" which give rise to them.

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