Articles by: Erik Stayton

Your Surveillance Fortune . . .

As part of the MIT Day of Action, Michelle Spektor and I came up with some facts, tips, and “fortunes” about surveillance and privacy to give out to passers by. The fortunes are, I think, the most interesting and thought provoking, so I am putting those up here. They range from the anodyne to the genuinely disturbing, but I think do a good job to capture some of the potential problems of a culture of pervasive surveillance by a wide variety of private, as well as governmental, actors. If you have your own idea for a surveillance fortune, add it […]

Science and Society Carnival @ MIT Day of Action

Provocation: Is science political? Scholars who study the practice of science and the social impacts of science and technology have long recognized that science does have political dimensions. Research in biology impacts how we define and value people. Basic research in physics and chemistry has led both to helpful new products and serious threats to human health and wellbeing. The findings of climate science may contribute to the reshaping of economies and day to day life for billions globally. On the technical side, Melvin Kranzberg’s enigmatic statement highlights a key problem for our times: “Technology is neither good nor bad; […]

The Relevance of STS in Industry, Part 1: On Critique

In conversations with several people in the general STS field, I have informally provided my perspective on the importance of philosophies from STS (and H and A, for that matter, our other component disciplines here) to the production of new technological artifacts. Among these sometimes unwitting interlocutors is Shreeharsh Kelkar, who suggested, perhaps a year ago, that I might post about these ideas. And it seems like it may be useful for myself and for others to put them into writing in a rather more concrete, if still informal, way. Figuring out how to achieve this fusion of technological research […]

On the Promise of AlphaGo

On the Promise of AlphaGo

  Games are an old venue for the development of AI programs, and have been part of the AI repertoire since the beginnings of the field. Turing wrote about games in his 1948 paper “Intelligent Machinery,” in which he suggested chess, noughts and crosses, bridge, and poker as among the games to teach machines. Why the focus on games that foreground disembodied mental activity? Because a “thinking machine” constructed in the image of a man would be “a tremendous undertaking” and therefore would be “altogether too slow and impractical” a research project (p. 39). Minksy, in the introduction to the […]

Colin Milburn – Inside Out: Videogames and the Technological Impulse

Colin Milburn – Inside Out: Videogames and the Technological Impulse

A “Liveblog” of Colin Milburn’s STS colloquium presentation, March 14, 2016. Compiled by Erik Stayton with the help of Mitali Thakor and anonymous others. The discussant was Emily Wanderer.   Hanna Shell: She welcomes us to the first STS Colloquium of the Spring 2016 season. Colin shared with us chapters of his book. Before she moves on to introducing Colin, she notes that Emily is an STS graduate and welcomes her back. Colin is the Gary Snyder Chair in Science and the Humanities at UC Davis, where he holds affiliations in STS, Cinema and Media Studies, and English — “he […]

A Few Thoughts on the Recent Google Car “Crash”

A Few Thoughts on the Recent Google Car “Crash”

As someone who studies automated vehicles, I have had a number of people send me links about the recently publicized “first” at-fault Google car crash (see this article for example). This is actually a really interesting situation, and presents a good moment to comment on a couple of important issues. First: As I wrote about in my M.S. thesis last spring, the notion of responsibility becomes more difficult to pin down in distributed and hybrid systems of humans and machines. Around this time, the frequency of Google car accidents came to light, with the inevitable comparisons to human accident rates […]