Beijing Harper Lecture: The First Age of Mechanical Calculation

From roughly 1870 to 1970, the first reliable calculating machines were manufactured and marketed internationally, allowing the heavy-duty calculations required for astronomy, insurance, official statistics, and navigation to be partially automated.

 The result was the demotion of calculation from a lofty form of intelligence to a mechanical activity. Yet a closer look reveals that the shift from human to mechanical calculations created new forms of intelligence and a tight connection between algorithms and the division of labor that has persisted ever since. Join Lorraine Daston for an exploration of the methods and meanings of calculation in modern times.
harper_headshot_beijing-02152018Featured Faculty: Lorraine Daston
Lorraine Daston is the director of Department II of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and a visiting professor in the Department of History and the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, as well as a permanent fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. She has published on a wide range of topics in the history of science, including the history of probability and statistics, wonders in early modern science, the emergence of scientific fact, scientific models, objects of scientific inquiry, the moral authority of nature, and the history of scientific objectivity. Her recent books include How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind: The Strange Career of Cold War Rationality (2014, with Paul Erikson et al.) and Histories of Scientific Observation (2011, coedited with Elizabeth Lunbeck).

Lecture Details

Admission is free.
Event Details:
3:00 p.m. Registration and networking
3:30 p.m. Presentation and discussion
4:30 p.m. Reception
Contact alumniassociation@uchicago.edu or 773.702.2150.