Science and Technology Studies: Opening the Black Box



our topic this afternoon is opening the black box and I'd like to just spend about a minute or so talking about how I wandered into this room it was in the late 60s early 1970s oh I'm going to blow up this 20-year frame and go back 40 years I was making a transition from political science into what eventually became technology studies so I began reading outside political science into the literature of what I hoped would be the field so I read a good amount of history and philosophy of science a well developed area of study I read social and managerial histories of industrialism at the time this was mainly march of progress literature at the time there were some pretty good Marxist histories and sociologies mainly focusing upon class struggle in the workplace sometimes focusing upon technologies and then there were also the cultural critics mumford marcos al Lu and others and much of this literature from way back then is still insightful and valuable but much of it was satisfied back then to draw rather broad boundaries frames around crucial objects and systems and just leave it at that so you got the assembly line and society or you got the automobile or you got the airplane you got the bomb and that was it more or less so what the entities contained inside was sometimes even recognized as important but the general consensus was back then that this would be better left to engineers or Mabrey in the case of science laboratory scientists to study and this actually this had a profound impact upon me because what I encountered was moving from political science into this new as much of the literature was dull and thinking about this to prepare for this panel I thought well this is why my first foray had to do with autonomous technology because this was the only way at least I could find at the time to dramatize these matters in a way that would at least lure me away from the interesting things happening at Berkeley at the time anyway our topic this afternoon recognizes an important change in this tendency which I think really began to get some momentum in the middle in late 1970s and it has been expanding and deepening ever since there's been a proliferation of modes of inquiry concepts methods several kinds of theory that boldly go where scholars I'm saying previously had been reluctant to tread delving into various realms of techno science often called the black box so what we'll be talking about this afternoon will be what has been achieved what challenges still lie ahead and to spark our discussion with you we have gathered three notable figures Sheila has invited them thank you Sheila thank you for inviting me who's intellectual and I should add also practical work sheds considerable light on these questions the the problem a provocateur on my immediate right Trevor pinch is professor of Science and Technology studies and professor of sociology at Cornell University he works mainly in fields of sociology of science sociology of technology sociology of economics and sound studies recent books include dr. golem how to think about medicine living in a material world economic sociology meets science and technology studies and he's the author of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Sal studies next to my right is David Kaiser a professor in mi t–'s program in science technology and society and senior lecturer and mi t–'s Department of Physics he's author of the award-winning book drawing theories apart the dispersion of Fineman diagrams in post-war physics which crais's our Richard Feynman's idiosyncratic approach to quantum physics entered the mainstream his most recent book how hippies how the hippies saved physics science counterculture and the quantum revival will be published this spring and I'll order my copy right away and third we have Antoine Sean did I say that ok be cool ok his professor of the history of architecture and technology and co-director of the doctoral program in the Graduate School of Design here at Harvard he was trained as an engineer architect and historian of science and art and he's best known for his work in the history of architecture architectural technologies from the 18th century to the present his book French architects and engineers and the Age of Enlightenment is a synthetic study of disciplinary deep structures of architecture garden design and engineering in the 18th century so we have a very good group of panelists and we will start with Trevor thank you thank you very much Langdon thank you very much Sheila for bringing us together and it's just been a great conference so far and nice to meet so many new faces and people that I know already familiar friends as well so it's getting late and I've got a whole Scottish shot of provocations I hope I hope they do their work and they provoke some people so the task Shiva has services are cost impossible for me there's simply too many important achievements and challenges in our field to cover in 15 minutes so no to these provocations reflect a personal take to a few of the pertinent issues we seem to be asked to do at least two things look at where we've been and secondly look at where we might be going and since I'm an advocate of sound studies my preferred formulation is listen to where we have been and tell stories about where we might be going and I used to think I knew something about where we'd been after all I had at least been there for some of it something I cannot say for sure about where we might be going but there's even stating where we have been there's a rhetorical discursive and performative achievement as we all know too well in STS and history is never neutral let me try and answer the question by grounding my comments or a degree of reflexivity so what follows is part personal stories part reflections and partner attempt to set some sort of intellectual agenda for a meaningful discussion and I invite my respondents to tell their own stories I have a long story I'm not I'm just going to gloss the first one it's about Brian talked about his history in Britain at the Edinburgh science studies unit I was brought up in SSK in Britain one of the things I learned that I started off with a guy called Richard Whitley at Manchester Business School I then moved to Harry Collins at Berkeley called the bar then to Michael Mull K in York and what I what I learnt there was that everybody liked to have arguments with each other before I moved to Collins Whitley tell me what Collins was wrong as I joined Collins he told my Whitley was wrong and the caller started write papers why Edinburgh school was wrong and then cos Collins and yearly got together we had to piss some logical Poulet so when the core Latour and Kalin was wrong so I just want to say something about that well it's often sees a weakness that we like to have fights in argue a lot can actually be a strength we are not a settled smug moribund discipline but our founding restless scholars who raised provocative questions that we often ourselves cannot agree over never mind what the correct answers are so I'm an agreement wish I actually kind of like this form it's difficult to do we need prover provocation it's hard to say as well of course unwillingness comes with a price we are hard to fit in oh let me give you my first provocation my first provocation there is keep it lively which is kind of reflexive provocation because we disagree a bit you're saying should be dull okay clever stop of course unruliness comes with a price we're hard to fit in the conventional divisions in the academy and this means that people don't quite get what to do with us this is reflected in the state of are supposed emergence I will note aggressor little were a story of SMT s as an emerging discipline and this is going to be about Cornell which Co has mentioned has been somehow tied in with this twenty years and this is I also learnt today from heavier this is the Garden of Eden says I'm gonna have an origin story of the Garden of Eden so size of Technology studies has been an emerging discipline for as long as I can remember isn't about time that we announce to the world we've finally emerged actually let me make this provocation number two STS has finally emerged disagree of that if you like okay in the UK side studies as was called then tend to be done in small units Edinburgh Science Sochi we tend to forget how small these things where it was embarrassed when Americans came though because we were so small bath science study sent tiny place there's only Harry Kahn's myself on one graduate student there well it was also done within the confines of other entities such as the sociology department at York where I ended up with Mulkey before coming to the u.s. in 1990 I'd not given much thought to science studies as a discipline or emerging discipline in its own right and what it should be called and how it should be practiced establishing a new department as we did at Cornell gave us plenty of opportunity to think about this I recall long debates over the role of the ampersand when when we founded remember those shoeless you here you were right when we founded what became the new s NTS department at Cornell in 1991 many for Sheila's hard work we felt for a moment that we had last emerged after all which shed the chrysalis of mere program status and corner like used to be science technology and society in H BSD and were formally to be treated as a regular department with control over our own lines TAS and resources unless we forget it we were told this the last new department at Cornell had been computer science established 25 years earlier it looked like a big deal but I also recall all too well the Arts and Science College faculty meeting where we actually formally emerged the main item on the agenda that night was car parking a well-intentioned new administration plan to charge more for precious parking permits and let's try and drive down use of the automobile at corners paradoxically you come to this place in the middle of nowhere but there's not enough places to park I must say something about this set logical infrastructure of America but many of Cornell's car users a support staff who drive in from rural areas where housing is cheaper and who have a lack of public transport actually need to use to their cars to get to work unlike the professors who could just as easily stroll to campus from their wealthier houses and thereby the faculty good for them is solidarity with the staff were out in force to vote down the car parking plan and the little item of the formation of the new Department of S&T s stood in their way on the agenda John this is a true story Jonathan color led the charge and the fact faculty quickly voted s NTS into existence before moving on to what they really cared about car parking I often say thank God for car parking that's how the Garden of Eden emerged okay our emergency herb was never going to be easy fast forward a few years in a failed attempt by a Dean to merge us with sociology under this player and S&T s would no longer be pupating but regressing once more to chrysalis stage as a program within sociology the Dean had tried to sell us the plan switching organisms as a case of the S&T s tail-wagging then moribund sociology departments dog but in the face of an overwhelmingly positive outside review of the sts department the same Dean was forced into some fancy footwork declaring we'd actually beat an experiment goodbye natural organism metaphors and reviews showed that now we were a successful experiment we held our breath we knew too much about the uses of experiment what sort of experiment were we exactly and couldn't experiment merge into a fully fledged discipline we kept our heads down and Cornell S&T asked me to continue to do what we do best I think and something we've failed manifestly to do in the UK produce generations of graduate students trained in essen TS many here in this room the financial crisis came in a new crisis for S&T s a paper was circulated recently by another dean suggesting that we were really another new sort of experiment an interdisciplinary joint appointment department and that such entities were best thought of has not been in control of their own lines which should revert to where you got it two traditional departments such as sociology history in the old but we survived the financial crisis for now and we an SDS have survived thus far to the bright new dawn of an NRC review which holds that s NTS is one of three fields and the social sciences and humanities that are truly emerging disciplines it's now is the institutions interest for us to emerge again but we know with the case of Penn State whose scanners Lee their institution is closing down the STS department institutions don't always recognize what is in their best interests now this not only excursion to where we've emerged or not reminds us again the stability can never be taken for granted we're an unusual discipline with one of course of discipline I think we are because our Jex of knowledge science technology and medicine are themselves dynamic and fast changing bodies of knowledge and practices and coping with these fast changing objects in a modern society provides numerous ways of generating new questions problems and new institutional formations and contexts for carrying out STS as we've learned at this conference where it be mandated LC programs of in government bureaucracies public understanding of science initiatives or scientists themselves trying to generate new social and cognitive formations around things like new cyber infrastructure etc but all of these opportunities also threaten to dilute what it is that we do and having been an STS heaven for the last 20 years with a luxury of a fairly stable institutional location I can attest to its benefit so I think that the departmental structure we had at corners it is obvious it's a wonderful place to do STS but most places are not as lucky as theirs we have to look for other places as well obviously what can be done now to some other intellectual issues the main move or maybe this is the first intellectual issue I'm not certain and moving technology studies the theme for this session has of course been to open the black box of Technology for me one of the achievements of the field has been the rich detailed studies which get inside technology whether missiles bicycle space cells synthesizers vineland diagrams nuclear power or financial engineering the best of these studies continue to show in a nuanced way that politics culture economics and society can be found in the hardest of artifacts a series of topics has been addressed often with inputs from historians of science as well such as testing standardization clinical trials classification infrastructure expertise accidents and disasters we had a little thing about disasters but that was already in a previous panel so I'm gonna skip that bit they're obviously very important to look at you want to have the metaphor opening the black box and we see that happening unfortunately in Japan right at the moment Langdon winners classical article which I teach every year do article did do avec backs have politics is as relevant today as ever the work on inside technology need not be micro often such work intersects with the politics of state making the great strength of our approach is to discover that power lies with the small stuff of light as well as with the obvious big entities studied by traditional political scientists there are nexus of issues around risk vulnerability sustainability and technological governance for instance the politics and governance of food safety where the detailed studies of s NTS can should and do make real contributions to some of the most pressing technological policy issues in modern societies the volume we edited back in 1987 that book called the social construction of technological systems it's still taken to be a landmark for setting out the theoretical ambitions of this sort of work by the way Margie Avery from MIT press is here told me this book has even been placed in an exhibit at the MIT Museum for one of the 30 most influential books ever published by MIT press must be a rather boring exhibit I think but it's there the three of theoretical approaches towards technical sights set out in that volume the social construction of Technology I this is the first time it's been mentioned this comes she when I was talking about this luster actor Network throwing hims actually explicitly said actor network threatened this con was yet large technological systems and social construction of Technology which I don't know anyone's mentioned either continue to be influential today and have not remained static as if we have not remained static there are these approaches but we're not I'm not focused I'm not going to go into Scott okay many other theoretical approaches and traditions however have been influential whether feminist approaches to science and technology Foucault daeun work on the discipline technologies work in post-colonial Science and Technology head this morning co-production ISTA proaches as we have this conference or the continuing jostling with reflexive modernization theory in terms that has my third provocation in terms of the theoretical framing I now think the bigger issue is not only about the importance of getting inside technology opening the black box and all that stuff but my third provocation is this the importance of social science as a whole dealing with materiality including technology so see that a chant as a challenge and particular to my college and sociology David Stark is there already but most sociologists are not there and to political science although we produce a lot of great case studies and produce much excitement in many parts of the Academy I still think there's a job to be done in convincing disciplines such as sociology and political science my own recent strategy has been to try and take the classical sociologists on at their own game as it were returned to sociologists such as Goffman and show how materiality and technology are actually embedded in their work most from my projects at the moment there are many opportunities for us to study a range of topics related to materiality one is often the invisible mundane technologies which comprise infrastructure I was recently at a meeting in Moscow at San Petersburg and the point of an engagement with Russian colleagues was very much over infrastructural issues when your infrastructures dramatically collapses it's done in the former Soviet Union it suddenly becomes more visible and audible what you don't have this is an opportunity to generate detailed studies and materiality and how it relates to social life the big change inside the infrastructure currently been undertaken in the sciences and elsewhere also provide opportunities for new sorts of infrastructural studies so my big fans is something started by late least our infrastructural studies our engagement with users of technologies and after some of this work with Nellie aoi-chan has also been a productive one the different sorts and shapes of users non users intermediaries the spaces they occupy and their role in innovation can used to generate much interest especially in the world of so-called web 2.0 feels like innovation studies design computer mediated interaction and even art and I hope we have one artist here but paying attention to our studies of users I have an artist sitting in my class at Cornell at the moment the sorts of thick description of users and their interactions with us which are methods to generate are the key here is my provocation for it's our focus upon materiality thick description or naturalistic vent and suspicion of all forms of essentialism and a form of tongue-in-cheek irreverence towards the pretensions of techno science which are the hallmarks of the best of what we have to offer that's my clay so um my own strategy is to find the topics is how I do my traveling to use heavy as metaphor it's find a topic where there's space for us to do these sorts of things and try and make a difference sound studies for me is such a place and if I could have had a whole session like for many of the edited books I would have an edited book or some of the members of the audience in the audience have contributed like miles Jatin to this book and Stefan Hamrick as well with sound studies one can at one moment be immersed in underwater music and the new techno science is built to explore the ocean the next moment we following listening practices whether listening to bodies or automobiles or be in the lab of 19th century German physicists trying to standardize pitch or improve read organs Latour used to offer this rule of method follow the actors so in sound studies we have our rule follow the sounds for their transduction between different media and senses wherever they may take us and wherever they vanish to lead silence sound does not respect disciplinary boundaries and crosses spaces it brings out the unruly side of what we do or should do I have a lot of section how I kept a provocation up my sleeve in case I need I won't read this this is an attack on post humanism but we can go into that in discussion if we want to I just done a book review of Karen Murad's book and there's lots of interesting yep one lively issue in our field which I think is worth coming to here is a relationship between historical grounded studies and more contemporaneous studies a number of historian colleagues Mike golden at Princeton he came to Cornell recently have turned to study and David's own work to what we used to call fringe science and so a provocation here is when studying French science it really challenged the laws notion of symmetry we tried to do those early studies following the principle of symmetry my provocation here for the historians is can they do these studies or do they want to stay faithful to glory and symmetry or do we need some new sort of principle lastly my last provocation I want to say something about intervening in the world this has come up already at this conference important importance of intervention one of our greatest strain is that unlike for much of the humanities our topic is always salient science technology and medicine make the news endlessly there are always opportunities for us to get our message across to a wider public and try and affect the way people think about technoscience my 7 provocation is we should have grass opportunity to show the relevance of work to a wider public and I want to tell you a story about how this has happened with me recently in this strange media-saturated age such opportunities come in many ways shapes and forms so I'd like to show this last story of how a piece of my own work got taken up in the media recently and it's taken up and was seen by far more people than any of the academic books and articles I've strove with over the years one evening I got a call from someone in the Cornell press office inviting me to watch the game show Jeopardy I was told there was an IBM computer called Watson not Holmes and Watson but one of the founders of IBM that Watson playing against the humans and as someone who thought about technology and society maybe I'd like to write a few words about it I recorded the show asked my 13 year old daughter about it and wrote up a short piece about Watson Watson if anyone saw that show what some fluffed a question about an airport in America named Toronto as the air the real at the correct correct answer was Chicago O'Hare Airport and the only reason I knew this was I've been stranded at Chicago's so many times so the article I wrote had the theme of that this technology might be taken up in those awful systems when you dial the airline in those endless answering change you get corn business computers going to be good at this and it might confuse oh here in Toronto I so I could see a nightmare developing so that was what my little piece was much to my amazement the piece showed up the next day in the middle of CNN's website okay albeit been as written of being billed as written by a Cornell scientists the press office congratulated me noting that the CNN page got more than 30 millions yes that is 30 million readers a day my piece soon generated hundreds of comments many actually pretty nasty when the first comments was you're wrong you're wrong you wrong I hate you I hate you have no described it in silicon I remember that one and it also got hundreds of hundreds of Facebook likes this is this whole new metrology we're in Facebook Likes immediately there's a lot of those as well so just to show some of this strange metrology and the new media I reproduce some of these screenshots this is after one hour they have a thing at CNN called News pulse you see that over there on the right of your screen the top story is pinched what humans know that what's and doesn't even beating out David Letterman's apology to Lindsay Lohan and other really important stories a poor old Colin Powell is down there at Story number four so now it didn't last for long Andy water was right I got one hour of frame it was more than fifteen minutes it was replaced and this is not a strobe at Michele Callen this is how this is a screenshot after an hour always to stage a comeback had taken over from my story not sitting longer in the middle you start to vanish finished let me just say yes opening the boy oh yes opening the black box can really matter in that anything matters these days thank you I have a note to myself never ever to follow Trevor pinch in a public terminal I've been following him in but never never to follow again let me see if I can work this out here okay I – it's everyone knows exactly – I want to thank Sheila Jasna of course and her legions of co-produced co-conspirators who have brought us here together today and I and yesterday and tomorrow tremendously stimulating at this point I must admit exhausting meeting but in a good way and I want to thank Trevor for indeed of provocation I really enjoyed reading and I'm gonna do something remarkably unfair because it's five o'clock on a Friday and I'm going to ignore all five of his very carefully bold-faced in place provocations I can pretend like I didn't even read his paper I'm gonna pick up on something really quite that passed by quickly and in passing it was only this been on my mind a lot about this question of opening the black box which has been on many of our minds for a long time and that has to do this question of scale so this phrase opening a black box of course from Langdon's great spirited article and from the work to which it was responding a lot of us were coming either from the person of Trevor pinch the late modern humanist subject or the larger kind of who called Ian Trevor function I'd like to think of that was the one without the pendulum the other both French and that is to say if I were to boil down a large portion of its gentleman's tremendous body of work which I still find myself returning to and teaching I put it into a PowerPoint slides another form of media saturation which is a consensus in science and technology is not the natural state scientists technologists are engineers just really happen to agree all on their own about new or perplexing phenomena consensus is usually outcome of a great deal of local messy face-to-face work by which we rarely say it's actually simpler than that as was noted earlier that the outcome is not to say oh goodness it was actually so easy or so simple and I take that to be at least one one kind of rallying point around this this notion of opening the black box it went by quickly that was in a Trevor's paper even said I wanted to chisel it and grant it as close as I could get for that graphically and he said quote The Trevor just now said the work on inside technology did not be micro often such work intersects with the politics of state making the great strength of our approach is to discover that power lies with a small stuff of life as well as with the obvious big entities studied by political scientists and so this question that has been on my mind he's been on many of our minds for a long time is this sort of micro and macro and in particular what are some ways to try to move to to tackle different scales of activity without erasing or forgetting or doing ill justice to that Trevor functions work to that great lesson we've all learned from from having opened a black box what do we do about the question of scale and so many of the room will roll their eyes the astute but ungenerous observers in the room I'm not having a look at miles Jackson will know that I've been trotting these slides out now for for an awfully long time so you know every time she was ever asked me to speak I use the same slides this might be the last time she asked me to speak but I've been I won't believe the slides that I can guarantee and and so I stare at this blue curve an awful lot that's the number of PhDs in physics graduate the United States per year over most of the 20th century and I look mostly at that period starting around 1945 a momentous moment as Sheila reminded us as was 1946 so roughly speaking 1945 to 1970 71 was this period of extraordinary unprecedented expansion in the infrastructure of making certain kinds of people in this case PhDs in physics other curves from other fields of remarkably similar just to give you a sense of scale the area under that blue curve is about 25 or 30 thousand people I mean just since World War two in that graph that first 25 or 30 year period we're talking about tens of thousands of people turned out just in one relatively small field just the United States and we can of course most people here read off the political economy of the Cold War from the patterns when the bumps and Wiggles in that graph exponential growth after World War two fastest rate of growth of any field in the country x-men's were growth after Sputnik calamitous Lee rapid fall around 1970 with other political economic and policy changes coalescing that shape is familiar to all of us in the room it's a speculative bubble and I talked about that at great length and elsewhere and many of you heard me go about that before here's one way to try to get macro I mean 30,000 or in the case of undergraduate degree holders in physics just the United States 125,000 it's that's a lot of people right who have been put through some form of formal training for years at a time and there are choices at get made to do that but it's done in an overt political context I just want to raise very quickly something that Steven Epstein had said before when he's doing his word counting he he dropped things like arms race when talking about race when being mentioned in our journals and I you know I know there are many ways to count but I want maybe we should put the arms race back in here just quickly the department chair of Berkeley's department of physics at the time one of the largest in the country was writing to his Dean in 1955 and he says that quote we have practically no minority group problems what do you mean by that the letter from the chair goes on so far as race is concerned we have never yet had a Negro grad stood in the department hence that particular problem has never arisen right so there's the arm race and it wasn't I'm not only picking on Berkeley or wondering why historians might be relevant discussion that same moment the Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland was advertising to hire a young physicist on the faculty and the job announcement in I mean in literally black and white says that only those needed who apply who were quote white male and American citizen which one would think would they didn't even have to say but they did and so I think we can put the race back in the arms race Steve and council mozart goes back in after all okay so one of the morning with a question of scale we've opened the black box we can't cook we shouldn't go back to the to the easy old notion that consensus is the natural state what are we doing faced even with graphs like the or pictures like these the map the United States prepared I believe in 1946 with the founding of the Atomic Energy Commission in the United States the big central dots are that are the then brand-new government mostly defense or weapons laboratories the radiating links are the universities which really were formerly meant to be cooperating and you see these suits spanning sort of dozens of whole universities again eventually tens of thousands of people meant to be enrolled following those kind of radial virus-like lines back in that's one kind of scale that doesn't look like laboratory ethnographies at least as many of us have have come to learn and admire them it doesn't look like the kind of blackbox studies many of us are used to and yet this demands a kind of attention there is epistemic and political work going on there that are not easily disentangled but it's at a scale that's so far explodes the notion of a lab a group us closer to designers similarly that the bottom picture is actually one of my favorites ever this poor gentleman about to be crushed to death by the Physical Review business's main American physics journal was shown by decade and they only got as far as the 70s as photos from the 70s and you can see with the obvious exponential growth in print culture how do we deal with the we don't assume all those people publishing as articles are born thinking the same things and yet there's something like rough consensus emerging at least in some complicated ways so how do we get around to the work that go the messy ultimately somehow local but the messy work that goes into making sameness so you can have 30,000 pages just from one country in one year just one year by that but by that early stage now its course many more pages so what do we deal with that notion of scale an information overload that is physically about to kill that man one place might look for the production of similarity would be in pedagogical settings again I the topic of great interest to me here are two quick snapshots from sort of boom times and bust take Richard Feynman at Caltech lecturing to physics students in 1962 or in 1975 many things that changed his hairstyle has changed as it has the width of his collar right but so and I don't know what this guy is doing in this bottom shot with a headband and feet on the desk was just a lot has changed I'm not sure that hippy is saving physics or others did but other things look at the scale I'm one he's lecturing to an auditorium style classroom with on the order of 300 students and the other is something like I would imagine a dozen or fewer so even saying well let's look to the classroom a pedagogy that already involves question non-trivial questions of scale what types of people identities problems techniques are going to be accentuated or even seemingly allowed in these two in his the same as we can be same place same professor only translated in time by the over a decade and so I'm gonna wrap up one of the ways I one ways that I've been trying to wrestle with the legacy of opening the black box from SSK and Scott and after network and a whole number of other things is to is to look through an overtly pedagogical lens because I'd already had it has to sweep across notions of scale intentionally these folks the department chairs the faculty the postdocs right through national level committees and internationally we're always trying to calibrate not always very well they would literally swap syllabi and general exams it would swap textbooks and as well as the usual kind of peer review type things so the production of similarity was indeed the outcome of work but work happening simultaneously in a great number of scales and I want to be able to capture some of that without slipping into the easiest sumption that it was sort of always necessary they would of course come to agreement let's take this legacy of opens black boxes of the natural state being we might say disunity or disagreement and and try to trace to how that happens and by doing that I think we shift the medium or the the metaphor from social construction to in fact constructing the social what does it take to build a hundred fifty thousand people just the United States in two and a half decades who are doing something broadly similar not identical and yet weren't born doing that sort of thing so I opposed there just as a maybe not quite a discussion but a provocation my own the black box in the question scale I think is a great great rich challenge for many of us in the room and I hope we can get some good discussion then – thank you thank you how do we insert to a provocation I know we like first to thank Sheila to have put me in such a difficult situation probably by a counter provocation so I would probably and have entitled a few things I have to say have we really opened the black box probably because I come from a domain that has a lot to do with materiality and in traverse stimulating reflection on the present state of the SDS field this question comes repeated provocation three states for instance that one of the key role of STS is to drive social science as a whole to deal with materiality provocation for that the focus upon materiality is among the hallmarks of the best that s and T s has to offer so reading such statements one may have the impression that the battle has been won but materiality is definitely on the side of SDS as a faithful Ally deprived of any sort of ambiguity so in this brief response I would like to argue that this is not necessarily the case that the challenge of addressing the material dimension of Science and Technology of Technology in particular is far from being completely answered so why did I stake such a stance not necessarily because I like to be provoking provocative especially at 10 plus 5 and it's really getting late it's because sometimes when I read at SDS literature I have a sense still of abstraction coming from a field you know like architecture that is in that is emerged into materiality to such a point that it's very often how to get out of it is a problem so we're so concrete sometimes that it's almost appalling so that we know we read SDS and say finally we're going to read elevated stuff and does not always strike me as that much entering into the black box for sure SDS has integrated a number of technological apparatuses in its analysis materials machine networks have figured prominently in some of its key studies beginning with those published in the seminal constant social construction of technological system but it is at the same time striking to observe how these analysis despite the expression of self-satisfaction that may arise now and then in the STS field have had often limited influence in the social science as a whole and I know that we've been rejoicing for a while about how influential we we're but we may still wander more traveling perhaps this influence has been evil even more limited of the people who design and manage large technological system in infrastructure and I'm often struck by the fact that there are not so many STS engineers architects etc so because of my disciplinary origins science and engineering and my present academic affiliation a design school dealing with architectural landscape architecture and urbanism I would like actually to comment on the second aspect the relative indifference of professionals such as engineers or architects or toward STS approaches we might be tempted to attribute it it's probably partially true to the philistine character of these professionals but it may be worth probing a bit further to uncover some of the limitation that still hamper the diffusion of STS the offers of things for sure things that have marked major breakthrough from materials to missiles STS studies have been extremely effective in showing for instance how technological properties are not given that constructed and this is something I've used again and again when I lecture for example on subject like the history of constructions try to explain to students that materials are not given by nature very useful they've been also quite used successful in the demonstration of how artifact play a crucial role in social and political processes how some key dimension of their inner organization is actually linked to such a role and this has been also very useful in building etc in the analysis of building but many of these analyses have either been devoted to relatively simple artifacts and systems and I'm still struck by the propensity of Brunel a tool to take examples like hotel keys or hangers and very seldom complex a engines or have remained at the surface of more complex technological and symbols those variants ambles that interest engineers and architect as a side note having lectured for a long time on the history of technology it's usually not in STS literature that I find detailed description you know if you really want to know how venturi steam engine works you either go back to 19th century steam engine treatise on the construction of Steen engine or you deal with very old fashioned history that tells you you know and how the the thing works noticed yes usually they are too busy relating it to social issues so that puzzles me a little bit part of the problem mark lie in the fact that everything technological is not necessarily susceptible of a political and social reading something that still horrify sometimes sometimes very no but the postulate to the contrary is more an article of faith than a real methodological standpoint but leaving that question aside I would like to propose another set of explanation to this tendency to remain whatever one may say at the periphery of the black box to feed on simplified assessment of what is in style inside instead of truly unpacking its disconcertingly diverse complicated and above all heterogeneous content the first may have to do with a certain lack of interest for for example procedures of conception of design the assumption that these procedures are guided by social and political factors is not enough to throw a light on how artifacts are actually imaging tests and Val tested and validated for instant design procedures often comprised highly paradoxical moments moments during which artifacts appear at the intersection of contradictory properties that sts studies have only begun to investigate design procedures are also often guided by precedent and borrowing to heitaro genius domains about which there again relatively little is truly understood so we we have new contribution for example I'm thinking of Albanian Eva study of REM koolhaas architectural practice that has really thrown an interesting light on design procedure the role of model for example etc but it seems that to me that a lot remains to be bought on something that strikes me also to be provocative I'm sorry but sometimes when read history of art I I tell myself and you know you've got that kind of historian of art we so obsessed by material by the thing except what you have a great description and then I read s – yes and you know it goes you and I'm a bit frustrated so this might be the fact that STS has not elaborated that much on the strategies of description of the objects deal with might also be part of the problem the fact also that domains like the city have not been very present is also a question so another possible explanation of the distance between STS analysis and what professionals are usually interested in might lie in the contrast between what still appears as an attempt at the mystification and the tendency of practitioners to feed upon values and myth that often possess decidedly ideally stirred whereas STS social scientists are deconstructionist practitioner remained generally quite platonic in their overall attitude even if their real practice is often closer to bricolage than to the unveiling of allegedly pre-existing truth not perhaps enough attention has been paid so far to these values and myth and there you ristic use as he has taught scholar tend often to adopt the position of those who know better and are about to demystify full system of beliefs than the one of the ethnologist for whom in demystification is definitely not the problem so what might finally water weather sts conception of materiality is not always is not sometimes too much predicated about it upon its determination by social factors and that despite the famous advocacy of baikal one latu of a street symmetry between human and non-human actors an interesting question by the way could be to ask oneself is the interpretation of material engines etc as actors does entirely justice to what engineers and architects of the past sometimes dubbed as the stubbornness of matter I would just finish provocation counter provocation by this idea that you know is it even possible really to totally look into the dark box of materiality because there is something in materiality that still remains dark whatever we do with it thank you thanks to all three of the panels for those wonderful provocative remarks personally I can't imagine there would be any questions at all since it's been so eloquent and persuasive but not just on the off chance somebody may want to ask something I think we have about 40 minutes left to go so I will recognize questions from the floor over there yeah introduce yourselves my name is Zach Pollack of MIT my question is directed to Dave Keizer although I appreciate everyone talking about it every time I see this curve of the physicist I often being the good reflexive scholar think about our own field and especially in light of what Trevor pinch was saying about grad school back in the day and it being just units of one graduate student versus now where we have not quite an explosion on that scale but still much larger program I'm just curious to see what you'd have to say about how you think scale will shape again looking forward to the next 20 years hi things scale will be shaping the discipline what are our interests are maybe getting at this sort of even thicker description of objects I don't know but just essentially this issue about scale sort of as an as an impact on the discipline as a practice sure Thank You Zac actually do want to hear Mike my co-conspirator on this one too but I just think very briefly it I've looked at this in a what I would consider this is already a political statement an hour or sub instantiation of STS which is say the history of science I hope that the statement is clear so I've looked at what the NSF statistics classify as history science and looked at the similar you know Wiggles in in the PhD production curve over the last 20 years and they look remarkably similar the magnitude of course is smaller but there are you know dramatic rise is followed by not-so-gentle Falls history science in North America PhD production wise peaked in 1996 we can begin some sort of gross rough correlations with things like what was the economy like five years early when people are flying to grad school instead of seeking jobs one can be good doing kind of first pass correlations for why you might make sense of those curves they wouldn't be the same all the same considerations as for say nuclear physics in 1950 but you know one can begin to try to get at something like a broader institutional and even you know political economic time framing so yes we do see sort of dramatic if not quite boom and bust certainly huge rise and fall in relative terms over decade like timescales in that sense yes it's similar and therefore what what would I expect us to be looking at or looking for we might then look at epistemic ly pedagogical institutionally how did groups like the physicists react or what would what else came in its wake when they were the first to experience this soon after World War two at least in the United States one that is of interest to me anything but interest many of us would be something like specialization and balkanization and those those words cut both ways so as recently as 1980 nearly one-half of the PhDs in north america in history science which means 30 people right half of those were doing history modern physics I call that the Garden of Eden by the way that's that was a great good no that was it totally unhealthy yet true and and if you look at the same data for 2,000 viewers and 10% of those of those much greater number of overall PhDs in exercise in North America I were doing anything like history minor physics but no other single group had had risen was swallowed up to become the new elephant wasn't history biology wasn't history thing like though there were sort of maybe nine or ten distinguishable clusters of topics each of which were drawing nine or ten percent ten or eleven percent of the field now one might say isn't that terrible you can't talk together others might say isn't that great right is look at how this goes back to I think Xavier is and others people's comes before his resigns as one instantiation of STS has indeed been sort of follow branching out following all kinds of new questions and topics and materials time periods places as well as themes and that's a great good thing what that also means is if you want to randomly select ten people at si an HSS meeting or 4s or new things what are the odds are working with similar materials day by day that probability has fallen dramatically their trade-offs their good thing bad things to that so I would look at things like the journal structure how do they deal with the organization of knowledge what counts as graduate what does every president need to know I mean these are these are fought questions they were fought bitterly bitterly among the physicists for example in this country we fight them productively but sometimes bitterly in our own fields here so I would look at are they're scaling effects and how do those change assumptions about what practitioners do or should know to whom that should we be speaking I think we can see those questions might carry over even though the time period and the particularity of which field have changed ever so I want to hear if other folks in but I think it's a great question to in some sense say yes all these groups go through these sort of tremendous growth spurts in relative terms they have in the last sixty years at least the United States similar patterns of UK and Canada some of that is in the former Soviet Union from what I've been able to suss out so the notion of not you know things don't just chug along there can be dramatic shifts in a kind of infrastructure for making certain kinds of people and what interests meet what fascinates me is what helps to make those shifts both give them force and make them seem natural at the time and what what do they do to notions of the world of ideas that all those people are meant to be caring about right those are those answers those changed that's a kind of question we might profitably apply many places even to 1870s you know Berlin for example so this is you know that's a question they might have broader general general application okay we have a question way in the back of the room on this side hi Christopher Jones from Harvard and I have a I have a question actually Trevor when you started your talk you invoked Langdon's do artifacts of politics of course with the title of today's talk I assumed you were gonna refer to the upon opening the black box and finding it empty and I want to use that as an opportunity to link back to our panel on difference before and as someone who's been working in STS and history of Technology I think there are some very legitimate critiques of this branch of STS and inquiry that it has not done as much with difference as perhaps some of the other areas have done and I'm curious about your thoughts on particularly studies of Technology how they might do better with with studies of difference what examples you've seen recently of scholarship you really like and if you have any thoughts on that subject so we've never actually liked and I never formally we were noting this before and had a debate over on opening the black box and finding it empty and length and I are going to be in a meeting together in China we thought maybe we will have the debate then I have formally responded to you know that I don't think the critic the criticism that Langdon you're offering a different criticism today than than Langdon's criticism of the black box work about the the issue of difference I think Landon's criticism was more to do with there's not a political critique of Technology in general in this work and it's become very formulaic I was thinking about this again as I prepared and it seemed to me that actually the box is quite full of micro sociology that's how I would frame the contention today yeah and so well I don't know so to the the the argument about it's not possible to criticize the technology in general is one of the ones that I'd like to think a bit about some more hope have thought about and I don't think it's possible to actually critique a whole technology in other words such as nuclear power to say that you know nuclear power good or bad for me the issue dissolves into the multiple forms that nuclear power take once you open the black box the multiple uses of nuclear power the institution manifestations it takes so that's probably one disagreement I suspect between Langdon and myself anyway that I I find it hard to come out with that sort of pronouncement now in certain circumstances answers one can talk for instance funding up I've written another op-ed piece about what's happening in Japan and it's it's clear that there was a battle when General Electric's sold those particular reactors to Japan about there was risks the regulator's opposed it because they thought that the containment building wasn't going to be strong enough in all circumstances and it would be damaging to nuclear power as also in particular circumstance one could talk about it being a bad decision to have particular reactors in in particular places but to condemn the whole of nuclear power I find hard to do so that would be so one might take over that so in particular it's not that we're saying that this approach doesn't lead you to policy implications of course it does or to say things about particular safety of technological systems one can say those sorts of things now in fact this op-ed piece of trying to say that in fact so we need more of Lange's and winners on it I studies piece it's been a classic for being prescient about this so on that issue I just don't think it's possible to have a 2-quart condemnation of a technology well if there is a be a rare circumstance so I'm actually arguing ever difference in other words the differences in the widest sense really matter you have to start opening the black box to see there are differences in the institutional manifestation where these technologies are who the uses are which particular sorts of users and so on so for me that is an issue of difference to pick up your point about difference now on the I don't want to so hog this whole thing about the the Scott and opening the black box but on the formulaic thing the response there is that I don't think people are using Scott I can't speak for actor network but I don't think they are using in a formulaic work way and if they are it's bad Scott the best of our students of course always tweaking it coming up with new versions of it and it's not like this is this you know it's stamped out scott student I wish I had one I don't think I've had a single stamped out Scott student actually they're always you know changing challenging doing new stuff with it and that's what any lively feel should be doing so I think it's a I think line to have the famous present there's only bad graduate students that took up stillthis of your media class something like that because we none of us have ever had this well I just say in briefly that as somebody involved in politics and this and or political theory studying things things inside out up and down and suffer but the end of the day I find it's my obligation to on occasion to say this is what I would propose or recommend this is my favorite one of my favorite lines from the history of thought is Martin Luther's after he nailed his 95 theses to the door he said here I stand I can do no other God helped me and that's that's the way I see these things I I could be wrong on these things but you know so I'm often going after whatever atrocity is proposed for let's say the region where I live and I recognize that there are many ways of looking at this and so forth but this as a political person I know I have to do at some point take a stand Brian you had your hand up over in back there yeah I just referring back to Langdon versus the box or the opening of the box I always felt that I think it's just reflected in what Trevor just said perhaps the I never saw this is quite such the confrontation that many's made it out to be and maybe you were trying to make it because it strikes me that actually in order to form the political critique one does need some deliberate quite prosaic work inside the black box if the kind of Scott has done in many domains not enough you might say but I think there's a further question relating to the difference point that has just been made which is that I'm not sure that Scott despite for example all of the fantastic documentation of what you might call the roads not taken excuse the pun on the bicycle we ended up with one particular bicycle there were so many options that could have developed and rendered the bike of the day and it's about roads not taken and cash it was referring to this in his own talk this morning about actually trying to demonstrate that that are actually roads not taken which was a different kind of imagination of our work inside those black boxes actually with your permission I would like to recognize the question that Antoine in effect posed for the panel as a whole which had to do with rather pungent claim that STS inadequately understands materiality which was a theme that Trevor was was developing earlier so I'd like to just open that question up since it was pitched I'd like to see somebody take a swing at it well I'll take a quick swim unit they're supposed to enter on the book that came to mind I mean I mean I mean you're actually right we're not doing enough in architecture I wish we could do more we are I think it can be fooled by the size of the field yeah it is still a small feel there's a lot to do but there's an obvious book out there where I think that was just starting to tackle that which is Emily Thompson's books and scapes of modernity which i think is dealing with the materiality I don't know you find that satisfying but it's it's a a good example of a scholar who's doing have acoustics develops looking at how particular concert halls are built in terms of the structure the materiality is there the theory of logistics there's use the different social groups impulse that were to me would be a good example so that would be my swing back that's our site Emily Thompson's our scholar who is doing listen and why do you want to well it was more a provocation to make you think a little bit because I have the impression very often if you really study your technological artifacts it becomes extremely boring very rapidly you know they've been fantastic studies you know in in France there is a guy called Jabir who's done a very thorough analysis of a canal at the beginning of the 19th century and problems of measurement success right it's incredibly boring but really opening the black box and at the certain point you know you don't know what it means anymore you know things acquire a kind of surrealistic presence but the politics is no longer evidence so it might go back to the question of scale which is probably scales of description that we don't think enough of I'm not to deny of course my point was not that you know we don't do it it's just that sometimes we don't do it enough and we don't raise all the questions that come with opening these black box as if we have really totally opened it that's all I'm saying ok I'd like to recognize Sheila yeah I'd like to just continue this line of conversation and don't want to some extent but all three of you actually connect pedagogy scale and materiality so Antoine exactly what are you trying to say I mean so there's a point at which the description can get so close to the practice when you say when you're saying it's boring I mean you know I guess I'd like you to unpack the black box of boringness I mean is it boring because there's no orthogonal discourse or angular discourse with which you're seeing something in the practice different from what the practitioner herself or himself would see which is what renders it boring because the descriptive becomes the material and there's no different plane of view from which you're looking at it or are you saying that that in order to get up what is social or political or provocatively not social or political as you suggested about certain kinds of large complex systems not door keys but big things like cities you would need a different kind of partnership perhaps between the people who can do the very thick materiality close to the ground and other people are the kinds of people in which case the pedagogy and the scale come into play because that then really opens up the black boxes of how do we teach this stuff I mean so if we want to go back to Chris Jones's question and ask for instance how do you build an urban structure that is really sensitive to the needs of difference whether it's differently aged people or differently physically capable people or you know or take a public transportation system or whatever and now we want to teach them something about STS and we want to teach them Trevor's kind of stuff and to some degree London's kind of stuff about the ways in which politics and society get black box into the system itself but these are complex things I mean so it's not the heuristic ones like the door key so you know how would a David Kiser learn how to teach that stuff in a pedagogical environment would it have to be six people one of whom is a really really trained experienced urban architect and one of whom is a Trevor PhD or is there a scale up possible so or must we do it in you know sort of little cellular units where we have you know in effect the model of the thing itself being created there's two dimension in my reaction the first one is a deeper flex city in front of in a way the Enigma of the black box past a certain point you know I remember for example going back to the steam engine when you look to these endless charts on how you know – you have to adjust a steam engine and you really won't ring what to do with it and there you reach a very black black box instead inside the black box now it's true that I do believe actually in cooperation I think what we've tried to do with the STS you know PhD concentration I do think that we need probably more cooperation between people who tend to work very often on the material dimension of system success well not necessarily always aware of you know what is socially and politically at stake and you know more politically science and social she oriented scholar and I think this is what we've begun to do and I think also that you know these goals also with it's very striking in design among design doctorate student how there is a growing demand and interest for these political and social questions so I think yes part of what I have in mind is actually new modes of cooperation between people who usually don't speak together I'm still for example I do a lot of history of construction and their international congress of construction history which are fascinating places because almost nobody ever cares about the social and political dimension but you have incredibly detailed description on stone cutting in 16th century Spain etc you have hundreds of people like that so you're thinking that probably you know some cooperation and some joint evolution might be useful ok another question Eric and introduce yourself Eric not everybody knows you Eric shinky from the program formerly known as STS at Penn State thank you for a very interesting panel it actually intersects all four of you intersect very closely with my own work I do a lot of stuff on eco cities in China I've been working in China and I've been mucking around in what I call the red box probably for the last eight or eight or ten years or so going back and forth I came into STS actually probably in 1990 through a kind of reconstructive approach via Marcus Raskin her Bernstein so I've always been very hands-on I've always been very interested in the project of reconstructing knowledge itself and how we're able to intervene into that and I actually take answering your question and from what how do we take a lot of this kind of STS I guess the knowledge that we gain from it and I teach a course called design ethics where I have the students essentially do an analysis I have them read Trevor I have them read Langdon and I have them read actually a couple of Trevor's pieces and Mellie's work and thinking about themselves as users of their worlds and as a mode for invention as a mode for intervening how do they produce a kind of ethical analysis in a way that you know I use the model of the American Disabilities Act that's it's a kind of set of design constraints that then reflect on to the social needs using kind of a social ethical analysis so for my students it ends up becoming a way into figuring out how to intervene in their world where a lot of them are particularly feeling somewhat helpless as kemi's or McKee's or even as designers and I think also the question of scale is exceptionally relevant when we look at a different context like China when we're talking about you know any kind of increase in consumption is going to impact tremendously it's a different kind of scale I think geography does a lot of really good work and thinking about the construction of scale Strathearn has done some really nice work on this as well but I think that there is a kind of inner intervention step that we can propose I feel like a lot of the field has been somewhat timid actually wanting to do that but again I've been kind of working at this for quite a while and I think it works I've seen really great products coming out of my students and I feel really optimistic about this set of methods if we can keep it going I don't think there's any it's great to hear these examples and we have just sitting in front of you if I just might mention it mark doing what does similar projects at Cornell in the engineering sketchy working in the engineering school Burnett STS approach I don't think there's one answer to this I was thinking again of Antoine's provocation and we have a PhD student who's actually got his own architecture tech chure company and he works in Mexico and he's just being he's just finished building one the biggest airports in Mexico and he's doing STS at the same time so that's another way of doing it there's no one way of doing it I think and I'm teaching all of us of teaching engineering our kind of bread-and-butter students or engineering students and we don't have that I don't the opportunity to do those sort of detailed projects with them but I try and come up with but I think of pertinent examples and then I use my own I have a study of the Moke electronic music synthesizer there I'm the Vakula position because I used to build synthesizers and play them and I can bring one in and I mean it cuz it's deadly boring inside the synthesize but I can cut to the point where the culture gets into the synthesizer I'd point to them and the choice that's made between summing between having keyboards are not having any poison how this Robert Moog standardized around a vault Proctor and that's how music and culture got embedded into that piece of technology and they've usually heard of the MIDI standard and so these are sort of examples that the students are familiar with and you can use I think in the teaching environment and it's it's an ongoing project to do this better yes so I have a question that sort of follows on from this but I also also want to connect it back to the last panel so I took Sheila's comments about the yeren the fly in the urinal as a as a as a quite provocative invitation to reflect on the nature of a technology like that that is the so the discussion was about the public sphere the normative theorists who you know aspire towards a fantasy world in which we achieve that kind of public sphere we ideally want talk about a well-ordered public sphere particularly in the kind of deliberative turin and political theory right so it seems to me that that urinal can be read as a as a technology for engendering a well-ordered public sphere right and that that is an extremely simple technology and when you look at the level of scale that the scale has by new and extremely circumscribed at least ideally one hopes 100 yet yet to connect to a sewer system okay that but that's fine so yet nevertheless one can whether through the network connections or or by analogy quickly scale that up to think about much much more complex systems and of course as you get scalar the the the kinds of technologies for ordering a public sphere that you get include not include both the sort of emergent deliberative architectures that that the deliberative experiments that that Brian was talking about but also I think the sorts of things that that that Antoine becomes talking about here and so I just wonder if if if maybe each of you particularly Trevor and Antoine would reflect on the concept of the user particularly in relation to scale and the kinds of stuff that the kind of the kinds of black boxes that ought to be opened and what sort of stuff we might expect to find in them well yeah I'm all for opening the urinal but I don't know I'm going to do it here we've got a student at Wenatchee Stephen Ames with working on restrooms in New York City and there's all sorts of interesting issues but I think the way to go with this to think about infrastructure which ties back to infrastructure in my talk and one of the in that note Sheila and I were talking the break about that nudge book which I recently had to review and although it's a kind of a dreadful book by these behavior economists one of the more interesting examples they start talking about is road signs I'm particular interested in this is an infrastructure issue and this ties in of course we live tourism the speed bumps things and one could start to think about a written a paper in the Cambridge Journal of economics about infrastructural issues in my own little hamlet of Forest Home in Ithaca New York and we're I got president of a Housing Association and it's debates about how bicycle lanes the material that's going to be used for bicycle lanes and whether a bicycle lane where the people riding the bicycles are gonna be forced into the road or not so in this tiny little communities are very specific is a traffic calming plan involving very specific pieces of material infrastructure that's debated in the community and it's a great site to do STS so so I think things to do with traffic this is the thing that also in the the collaborations were talking about in Petersburg and Moscow things to do with traffic infrastructures a great site for doing STS and that's the nudge people have stopped it to say about that but they're completely wrong of course a Sheila and I agree because they they don't have a sophisticated theory of the user at all I could go on endlessly about what's wrong with the nudge and how you need a more complicated theory of the user but I think us you know I'm just gonna jump in very quickly and say I mean I've been tremendously inspired by the user oriented approaches from for example Trevor and Nellie's uttered volumes lots and lots of work by now on this theme and for me that plays out is something like sort of the student qui user not all students the same not all uses the same but again how do we get something that looked eventually broadly consensual where we don't start that way and where the users the students aren't all doing the same things right so that the user oriented approach is incredibly important and then when you try to scale that to sort of a hundred twenty five thousand users of a rather rather short period of time right we're again phrase with is that just is it a hundred twenty-five thousand instantiations of the same basic process no this is just a lot more of one small little concealed circumscribed black box situation or are there genuinely novel that arise and you know from sort of interactions on and that I think I'm inclined to believe the latter though nailing that down it is you know fascinates me I have no good answers yet I think I would follow my two predecessors infrastructure definitely what interests me with the user you know in architecture it has been present for a very long time but I find interesting in your story about the urinal is that there is a real user and then there is the imaging user and they're not that's really the same I'm ready to bet and then there is the discipline of the body that is linked because when you say it's a simple thing it actually takes a lot of disciplining of bodies in society so there are a lot of dimension to this question but I'd retain however the kind of complexity of the relation between an imaging user who is seeing the fly because and those who don't and the real user who very often will not see the fly by the way thanks for those responses my this I think you're actually hitting on a point that I was in perhaps properly articulate but it seems to me that the the imagination of the user and the urinal case is very interesting because it doesn't begin with the idea of a guy peeing it begins with the idea of the right kind of liberal subject for engendering a well-ordered public sphere and nudge is about the production of this subject in lots of different spaces including airport bathrooms using particular technologies that can correct for the kinds of natural insufficiencies that are present in this particular user and its goal is I mean it seems to me that its goal yes to reduce splatter or whatever it's also to it's to produce it's to engender a certain kind of public sphere and the concomitant politics that go it so that is an easy to understand object but the kinds of decisions that's being generalized to are all kinds of decisions so how you should save your money how you should invest your money who should take on the responsibility for educating their children or caring for the elderly I mean you know so it's it starts tiny with that one object an a material object but it's being generalized to things with very different kinds of materiality rather not with a small object but with something about as large as that you can get and being channeled into this small object I'd like to recognize a hand over here to Lube Tolu order more soup Harvard I just want to push back a bit on Anton's a description of opening up the black box and going into a level of detail being boring and asking where the politics is a lot of the work I do has to Hotel communication systems and I did my dissertation work on telecommunications in Nigeria and I realized that very very little technical decisions that are made in designing these very large-scale telecommunication systems like mobile telephones can have huge impacts for the lives of the people who use them and these are highly technical decisions and which are not necessarily visible unless you do the work of opening up the black box and going into the details so I think that the question of whether or not detailed opening up of the black box will necessarily lead to a political conversation depends on what your definition of the political is and I think sometimes the political itself is defined by the very my new tier of the materiality that is on the discussion and that can change the policy and the political can change depending on where you scratch and how deep you go and I just would like to respond to that I'm pretty convinced by that you know I was played playing the devil's advocate because it's it's part of what I was asked I would however you know to take just a metaphor when you take DNA you know at the beginning you thought that every part was coding etc and now we realize that there's so many things we don't know what's the use of it we speck there ease of use so I think with technology there are a number of things you open the black box and you go very deep and yes you find a political momentum a social momentum and there are other stuff that are there to that and you don't know what to do with it and actually since I'm an incredibly optimistic person I do believe that we have to work together to try to understand what the rest of the chain mamie so which was a little bit the sense of my intervention because it's true for example in other discipline system of art very often tend to sacrifice the work of art so they will describe everything even the thing they don't know what it means exactly which is one of their strengths and sometimes we'll open the back box and we throw away a lot of things we don't simply see where it's coding and that's where the problem lies for me I think it is hard to see the Rovers and I'm not suggesting say that everything inside that synthesizer is going to be relevant to those engineering students I'm trying to teach so I focus in the trick seems to be to develop methodologies is why this idea contestation standardization we have research sites to look at where we're more likely to find the stuff that interests us and the heuristics to do it and this is lots of stuff that is just simply uninteresting I agree or simply we don't know how to make it interesting so far okay we have only about five minutes left there's a question back there also I'd like to support what you said yeah because in fact so we in my most recent work with my postdoc we've been opening the black box of a technology of software technology that uses principal components analysis which I don't normally do but but in any case that that when we open that black box we actually see the production of a tool that is is in a certain sense better than using race categories in genetics research so we are actually working with the scientists that we study to try to actually promote one kind of technology over another okay but we've also studied how this technology travels to other sites and then is reworked and and reconstructed as a technology for making race again so we don't so I think it's really important that we continue to study they'll continue to open up the black box even through time not even staying with with what we've discovered in one side but to study it in another site and and I would like to say that I think a lot of people in this room are engaged with either the research as we study or or engineers or all of those I guess the people were building architectures in a way that it's perhaps not obvious I mean we're constantly in conversation with them my postdoc now is is studying is in the field in an epigenetics lab and in the systems biology lab I was supposed to be in one but I'm off writing a book so so I think that that in that small way with a constant interaction we are actually trying to do what Antoine is is suggesting but in a in other ways as well I mean I was supposed to actually be about a meeting today and tomorrow that that Evelyn Hammonds set up with its social scientists meeting geneticists to try to work on some of the problems that that have come up around race and genetics so this is an explicit effort to to build a conversation across somebody got sick so we really couldn't we couldn't have the meeting and it's postponed but but that's I I would guess that everybody in this room is involved in some kind of of work that that satisfies unplugs provocation so so maybe everyone else should also give their stories and I think actually it's getting toward six o'clock so we should probably just conclude thank you very much

2 Comments

  1. Myron Darrel said:

    Woooh grabe kaantok hahahah

    June 26, 2019
    Reply
  2. fermented_dreamz said:

    Antoine reminds me of Dr. Evil. lol

    June 26, 2019
    Reply

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