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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Sketches of Another Future: Cybernetics in Britain, 1940-2000

30th November 2010, 20:00 to 21:00, Senate Lounge, University College, Professor Andrew Pickering (University of Exeter)

What do robot tortoises, the anti-psychiatry movement, complexity theory, buildings that reconfigure themselves in use, the 60s counterculture and tantric yoga have in common?

This talk will suggest we should understand them as ontological theatre-as acting out for us a vision of the world radically different from that of modern science and western commonsense. These examples are drawn from the history of the post-World War II science of cybernetics (the study of control and communication in the animal and the machine), and the talk seeks to explore the politics of cybernetics, arguing that it aimed at an openness to what the world has to offer us, rather than the domination and control associated with mainstream science and engineering.

Professor Andrew Pickering is chair of sociology at the University of Exeter. He has a PhD in theoretical elementary particle physics from University College London and another in science studies from the University of Edinburgh and has published extensively in the area of science and technology studies.  He is currently an IAS and Pemberton Fellow, hosted by University College and engaged with the Institute's annual theme on 'Futures' For further information please visit: 

Contact for more information about this event.