Lunch Keynote: Mechanical Ducks, Tea-cup Robots and Frankenstein's Monster: Imagining a New Future for Computing

Genevieve Bell, Ph.D., Director, 3A Institute, Australia National University
June 5, 12:45 pm - 2:15 pm

The origins of today's digital technologies are far more complicated than it sometimes appears. In this talk, Genevieve Bell, a cultural anthropologist working at the intersections of culture and technology, will explores the ways in which our stories about the future are intimately and inexorably linked to a very particular set of histories. Tracing a genealogy from the early automatons and mechanized looms, through AI, the Turing Test and the Singularity to the present day of devices and services, Bell creates a compelling genealogy for computing. It is a genealogy we recognize. But increasing technologically sophistication seems to engender consumer anxiety. The rise of machines complex enough to provide us with meaningful assistance appears to be accompanied by a fear that these machines will kill us, ala Hal in 2001: a Space odyssey and many others. Drawing on Sanskrit philosophy, medieval Islamic engineering and even the Romantic poets, she suggests the possibility of different future and of a different kind of life with computers and computing.