Seminar: N. Katherine Hayles

  • Date: –15:00
  • Location: Carolina Rediviva Tidskriftsläsesalens inre del (TLS)
  • Lecturer: N. Katherine Hayles
  • Organiser: Digital Humanities Uppsala
  • Contact person: Matts Lindström
  • Seminarium

Can Computers Create Meaning? A Cyber-Bio-Semiotic Perspective

One of the promising areas to understand how computers cognize is biosemiotics, a field that draws on C. S. Peirce’s semiotics to argue that all living organisms generate and understand meanings appropriate to their contexts, even plants and unicellular organisms.  Although these approaches by such theorists of Jesper Hoffmeyer, Wendy Wheeler, and Terrence Deacon has considerable explanatory power, they share a common blind spot in arguing that such signifying capabilities apply only to living organisms, not computers.  However, many of their objections to networked and programmed machines creating, disseminating and understanding meanings become moot if the relevant unit is considered to be human plus computer rather than either alone.  The human species, this talk will argue, is in the midst of entering into a deep symbiosis with computational media. Still incomplete, this symbiosis has deep implications for our human futures. The talk will conclude by exploring these issues.