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Saturday, September 2 • 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Man As Machine: Androids & Cyborgs in Literature

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Are humans more than the sum of their parts, or are they merely organic machines, as philosophers from antiquity on have suggested? Today, new innovations in science and technology provide new ways to interrogate this question, even as they continue to raise it. On the one hand, increasingly advanced prosthetics, neural interfaces (such as Elon Musk’s recently-announced Neuralink), and other enhancements allow us to go beyond the limitations of our human bodies. On the other hand, machine intelligence now rivals, and even supersedes, humans in everything from game-playing strategies to driving and facial recognition, suggesting that we’re moving closer to the holy grail of creating an artificial sentient being. These innovations pose the ultimate question: what does it mean to be human? More specifically, (how) do our physical bodies define us and shape our humanity, and how might we retain that humanity as we change, or even transcend, those bodies?

Moderators
avatar for Anastasia Klimchynskaya

Anastasia Klimchynskaya

Anastasia Klimchynskaya is a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, where she's working on a dissertation on the emergence of science fiction in the 19th century. In particular, she focuses on the way the scientific history, modes of thought, and paradigms of the period gave rise to the genre, and on creating a theory of the genre based in that history. She has presented on science fiction, AI, Star Trek, fandom history, and transmedia storytelling at various conferences and conventions, including Star Trek: Mission NYC, Philcon, and Science in Public, and recently taught a course titled "Living in a Science Fiction World," which used sci-fi to tackle contemporary sociopolitical, legal, and technological issues. She's passionate about using science fiction as a tool that helps us envision and prepare for our future, and loves to explore the means through which science fiction so often becomes science... Read More →

Speakers
avatar for Anika Dane

Anika Dane

Anika Dane is a freelance blogger and lecturer with a special interest in fairy tales and space opera. She writes and presents on a variety of topics including fashion, feminism, geek and genre media, pop culture, and modern mythology. Anika's educational background is in the arts, sociology, and women's studies, and she has held positions in academia, systems design, and children's theater. She is completing... Read More →
avatar for Thaddeus Howze

Thaddeus Howze

Thaddeus Howze is a prolific writer of speculative fiction, scientific, technical and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California. Writing for Quora.com, he has taken home the Top Writer Award two years in a row, in 2016 and 2017.  His topics include science fiction, cosmology, science, technology, media dissection, narrative story-telling and comic character development from a historical perspective. He's presently a writer/editor... Read More →
avatar for Joseph Hurtgen

Joseph Hurtgen

Joseph Hurtgen has a PhD in English Literature from Ball State University and teaches at Young Harris College. He has had journal articles published in Text in Context, Margaret Atwood Studies, The Quint, and JOSF. A book with McFarland, Archival Embodiment in Science Fiction, is due out early... Read More →
avatar for Patrick Thaddeus Jackson

Patrick Thaddeus Jackson

Professor and Associate Dean, American University
Patrick Thaddeus Jackson is Professor of International Studies and Associate Dean for Curriculum and Learning in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C. He is the recipient of the Carnegie Foundation’s U.S. Professor of the Year Award for the District of Columbia, and regularly teaches classes on science fiction and international affairs (among other topics). He writes on social theory, the philosophy of science, identity, and popular culture; in the latter category he has published pieces on Star Trek, Harry Potter, Battlestar Galactica, Iain M. Banks’ “Culture” novels, and Star Wars. He blogs irregularly... Read More →

Volunteers
avatar for Aisha Matthews

Aisha Matthews

Escape Velocity Literary Track Programming Coordinator & JOSF Assistant Managing Editor, Museum of Science Fiction
Aisha Matthews is a Ph.D. student in English Literature at Southern Methodist University, having finished her Master’s Degree at Southern New Hampshire University in early 2017. As an undergraduate at Yale (’13), she studied Young Adult Science Fiction Literature (alongside more classical sub-genres), and wrote her thesis on Scott... Read More →

Saturday September 2, 2017 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Harding (100)

Attendees (20)