+ In summer 2018, Chiara Ricciardone and Micah White co-taught the seminar "Technology and Social Change" for the radical Telluride Association Summer Program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Our time is typically considered an era of unprecedented technological change. New tools are transforming human work, values, and relationships. At the same time, human actors are consciously using the Internet and social media to pursue diverse cultural and political agendas. The rate of technological change today may be new, but technology has defined every historical age—and humans have always sought to harness its power. In this course, we explore the interdependent relationship between technology and social change from a variety of angles. We will ask: how do the tools we use change who we are?
This course considers five different kinds of landmark techno-social innovations: technologies of language and the written word; technologies of the self and subjectivity; technologies of social media and social networks; technologies of war and protest; and the potential technological event known as the “Singularity,” or the imagined advent of super-intelligent machines. We will draw on texts from philosophy, history, fiction, and social movements, from perspectives ranging from the most critical to the most utopian. By looking at how past technological innovations have shaped human life, we hope to gain new perspective on the possibility of social change in the present