This was a new course taught for the first time in 2018.
In Marx’s Communist Manifesto, he suggests that capitalism will bring about rapid technological innovation that can liberate people from their need to work. If we have the technology to produce all the means we need to survive, with minimal human labour, we could all be enjoying expansive amounts of leisure time. All we need to fulfill such a dream is to be able to wrestle that technology away from those that own it as private property, and instead bring it to the public domain. Productive technology, for Marx, puts us at the mercy of those who own it. It also has the radical emancipatory potential to liberate us from labour, and free up our time for those activities that are truly fulfilling. For Marx, technology is a part of “historical materialism,” where material technologies shape our lives, with particular social outcomes destined to be realized in the future.
Many scholars have since considered how technology influences society, and how it might lead to a society with a fundamentally different kind of economic system. In this class, we will be exploring new ideas about how technology shapes our lives, how it couldshape our lives, and how we should critically engage with technologies currently being developed. Materials unite us, but they also divide us.
By the end of the course, students will be able to:
- Discuss trends in science and technology studies (STS)
- Understand historical materialism and new materialism
- Discuss the relationship between policy and technology
- Critically understand technologies like synthetic biology and artificial intelligence
- Discuss post-capitalist work