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2011 Summer - TNDY
Subj Cat# Class# Sect Course
TNDY 403R 5027 1 Acceleration Change:Visions of Catastrophe, Singularity & Transcendence--Transdscplnry Perspectives
Over the past several decades technology seems to be driving increasingly rapid social change. Computers have become exponentially smaller, faster and cheaper: now you can put the internet in your pocket. Much of the world's knowledge is available for free on the web. Robot cars are already driving on our roads in California, and in a few years you'll be able to sequence your entire genome for under $1,000. Venerable institutions like book and newspaper publishing appear to be on the path to extinction. Poltical and cultural movements coalesce suddenly from digitally enhanced social networks, overthrowing dictators who have ruled for decades. The world financial system transmits shocks almost instantaneously and can collapse over a weekend. In this course, we'll look at a wide spectrum of reactions to the idea of accelerating change from skeptical or dystopian, to celebratory and even millennial. We will read careful analysis of existing trends; case studies of specific innovations such as the use of computers by street children in India; science fiction stories imagining future trajectories, and utopian tracts about the new world to come. Finally, we will explore a wide range of cultural responses to these rapid changes in order to develop a perspective on the tumultuous future.