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Cybernetics Revolution in Contemporary China

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Manu Sasidharan.

This talk will be delivered remotely, but people are welcome to still join from the Richard King Room and have lunch during the talk. We will put the talk on the projector screen.

Cybernetics, a theory of information communication in machine systems that originated in engineering and mathematics in the U.S., is regarded as the core knowledge foundation to develop a series of emerging technology such as AI and automation machines nowadays. The western context sees cybernetics as primarily useful in developing weaponry and automated machines intended for security and manufacturing purposes. Yet, some technological practices in socialist countries have created an alternative representation of the bridge between cybernetics and social transformations. The most successful case must be China. Cybernetics is regarded as a powerful tool to provide the scientific evidence for a series of social and economic policymaking, which have successfully changed the social structure in contemporary China. The broad application of cyber technology in China’s socio-economic sphere could be regarded as moving cybernetics beyond the technological arenas and into a kind of “cultural fever” or new ideology. Why and how does China make a different cybernetics narrative? This research proposal and some preliminary results aim to explore the rise of an cybernetic narrative in China after the Cultural Revolution, from which to understand the modernization of China as an unexplored perspective and push the existing research beyond the colonial context.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars series.

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