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  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan
  • Babak Afrassiabi
    • Babak Afrassiabi is an artist who works both in Iran and the Netherlands. Since 2004, he has collaborated with Nasrin Tabatabai on various joint projects and the publication of the bilingual magazine Pages (Farsi and English). Their work seeks to articulate the undecidable space between art and its historical conditions, including the recurring question of the place of the archive in defining the juncture between politics, history, and the practice of art. The artists’ work has been presented internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and they have been tutors at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2008–13), and Erg, école supérieure des arts, Brussels (2015–).
    • published contributions
  • Malin Ah-King
  • Memo Akten
    • . He is currently a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is researching artificial intelligence, machine learning, and expressive human-ma
    • published contributions
  • Jamie Allen
  • S. Ayesha Hameed
    • Dr. S. Ayesha Hameed is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures and the Joint Programme Leader in Fine Art and History of Art Research Fellow in Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, London. She received her PhD in Social and Political Thought at York University, Canada in 2008
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  • Sammy Baloji
  • Subhankar Banerjee
  • On Barak
    • On Barak is a social and cultural historian of science and technology in non-Western settings. He has been a senior lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University since 2012. Prior to this, he was a member of the Princeton Society of Fellows. In 2009, Barak received a joint PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from New York University. His most recent book is On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt (University of California Press, 2013), and his current publication project, Coalonialism: Energy and Empire before the Age of Oil, is funded by a European Union Marie Curie Award and an Israel Science Foundation Grant.
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  • Anil Bawa-Cavia
    • Anil Bawa-Cavia is a computer scientist with a background in machine learning. He runs STDIO, a speculative software studio. His practice engages with algorithms, protocols, encodings, and other software artifacts and his doctoral research at the Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London was on complex networks in urbanism. He is a founding member of Call & Response, a sonic arts collective and gallery space in London, and a member of the New Centre for Research & Practice.
    • published contributions
  • Etienne Benson
  • Josh Berson
  • Jeremy Bolen
  • Paul Boshears
  • Benjamin Bratton
    • for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow. Bratton is also Professor of Digital Design at the Eur
    • published contributions
  • Axel Braun
    • Axel Braun studied photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, and fine arts at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. His artistic research deals with controversial infrastructure projects, tautology as an attempt to understand reality, and failed utopias in art and architecture. Currently, he is pursuing the long-term project Towards an Understanding of Anthropocene Landscapes. Recently exhibited works include Some Kind of Opposition (2016) at Galeria Centralis, Budapest, and Dragonflies drift downstream on a river (2015) at Kunstmuseum Bochum.
    • published contributions
  • Keith Breckenridge
  • François Bucher
    • s, focusing on ethical and aesthetic problems of cinema and television, and more recently on the image as an interdimensional field. His work has been exhibited at
    • published contributions
  • Lino Camprubí
  • Zachary Caple
  • Ele Carpenter
    • Dr. Ele Carpenter is a senior lecturer in curating at Goldsmiths, London. Her curatorial practice responds to interdisciplinary socio-political contexts such as the nuclear economy and the relationship between craft and code.
    • published contributions
  • Andrew Chubb
    • Andrew Chubb is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia conducting research on the relationship between Chinese public opinion and government policy in the South China Sea. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Contemporary China, Pacific Affairs, East Asia Forum, and Information, Communication & Society. His blog, South Sea Conversations (southseaconversations.wordpress.com), provides translations and analysis of Chinese discourse on the South and East China Sea issues.
    • published contributions
  • Louis Chude-Sokei
    • Louis Chude-Sokei is a writer and scholar currently teaching in the English Department at the University of Washington, Seattle. His academic interests range from West African, Caribbean, and American literary and cultural studies to a particular focus on sound, technology, and performance. His literary and public work focuses on immigration and black-on-black cultural contacts, conflicts, and exchanges. Chude-Sokei is the author of the award-winning book The Last “Darky”: Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora (2006) and The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics (2016).
    • published contributions
  • Amy Cimini
  • Claire Colebrook
    • Claire Colebrook is a professor of English at Penn State University. Her areas of specialization are contemporary literature, visual culture, and theory and cultural studies. She has written articles on poetry, literary theory, queer theory, and contemporary culture. Colebrook is the co-editor of the series Critical Climate Change, published by Open Humanities Press, and a member of the advisory board of the Institute for Critical Climate Change. She recently completed two books on extinction for Open Humanities Press, Death of the PostHuman and Sex after Life (both 2014), and with Tom Cohen and J. Hillis Miller co-authored Twilight of the Anthropocene Idols (2016).
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  • Flavio D'Abramo
  • Ana Dana Beroš
    • chitect and curator focused on creating uncertain, fragile environments that catalyze social chan
    • published contributions
  • Pietro Daniel Omodeo
  • Rana Dasgupta
  • Filip De Boeck
    • Filip De Boeck is actively involved in teaching, promoting, coordinating and supervising research in and on Africa at the Institute for Anthropological research in Africa at the U
    • published contributions
  • Seth Denizen
    • Seth Denizen is a researcher and design practitioner trained in landscape architecture and evolutionary biology. Since completing research on the sexual behavior and evolutionary ecology of small Trinidadian fish, his work has focused on the aesthetics of scientific representation, madness, and public parks, the design of t
    • published contributions
  • Rohini Devasher
  • Jonathan Donges
    • Jonathan Donges is a postdoctoral researcher who holds a joint position at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (as Stordalen Scholar) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He studies planetary boundaries and social dynamics in the Earth system from a complex dynamical system perspective. At Potsdam, he is Co-head of the flagship COPAN (Coevolutionary Pathways) project (www.pik-potsdam.de/copan). His published research includes work on complex network theory, dynamical systems theory, and time series analysis, with a focus on their application to our understanding of past and present climate variability and its interactions with humankind on planet Earth.
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  • Design Earth
    • ollaborative architectural practice led by El Hadi Jazairy
    • published contributions
  • Keller Easterling
  • Anna Echterhölter
  • David Edgerton
    • David Edgerton is Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and a professor of modern British history at King’s College London. After teaching at the University of Manchester, he became the founding director of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at Imperial College London (1993–2003), and moved along with the centre to King’s College London in August 2013. He is the author of many works, including The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900 (2007), which argues for and exemplifies new ways of thinking about the material constitution of modernity.
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  • Technosphere Editorial
  • Sasha Engelmann
  • Lois Epstein
    • stein is Arctic Program Director at the Wilderness Society an American land conservation non-profit. A licensed engineer, she has served on a number of federal advisory committees, including a National Academy of Sciences committee studying oil and gas regulations, and, for twelve years, a committee focusing on oil pipeline safety. Epstein holds a Master of Civil Engineering with a specialization in environme
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  • Eberhard Faust
  • Jennifer Gabrys
    • Jennifer Gabrys is Reader in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Principal Investigator on the ERC-funded project, "Citizen Sense." Her publications include Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics (University of Michigan Press, 2011); and Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming).
    • published contributions
  • Elaine Gan
  • Oliver Gantner
  • Beate Geissler and Oliver Sann
  • Florian Goldmann
    • Florian Goldmann is a Berlin-based artist and a PhD candidate at the DFG Research Training Center Visibility and Visualisation – Hybrid Forms of Pictorial Knowledge as well as at the Brandenburg Center for Media Studies, both Potsdam University. His research focus is the utilization of models as a means of both commemorating and predicting catastrophe. In 2015, he took part in the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan. Goldmann is one of the founders of the research collective STRATAGRIDS and the author of Flexible Signposts to Coded Territories (2012), an analysis of football hooligan graffiti in Athens as a system of fluid signage.
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  • Mark Graham
  • Jacques Grinevald
  • Johan Gärdebo
    • Johan Gärdebo is a PhD candidate at the Royal Institute of Technology affiliated to the Environmental Humanities Laboratory (EHL). H
    • published contributions
  • Orit Halpern
    • Orit Halpern is a Strategic Hire in Interactive Design and an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal. Her work bridges the histories of science, computing, and cybernetics with design and art practice. She is also a co-director of the Speculative Life Research Cluster, Montreal, a laboratory situated at the intersection of art and life sciences, architecture and design, and computational media (www.speculativelife.com). Her recent monograph, Beautiful Data (2015), is a history of interactivity, data visualization, and ubiquitous computing. www.orithalpern.net
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  • Eva Hayward
  • Gabrielle Hecht
  • Gerda Heck
  • Florian Hecker
    • dio 3 as the broadcaster’s first ever live binaural broadcast. Recent major exhibitions
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  • Carola Hein
    • Carola Hein is a professor of the history of architecture and urban planning in the Architecture Department at Delft University of Technology. She has published widely on topics in contemporary and historical architectural and urban planning, notably that of Europe and Japan. Her current research interests include transmission of architectural and urban ideas along international networks, focusing specifically on port cities, and the global architecture of oil. Her books include Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks (2011), Cities, Autonomy, and Decentralization in Japan (2006), and The Capital of Europe: Architecture and Urban Planning for the European Union (2004).
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  • Julian Henriques
    • Julian Henriques is the convener of the MA in Script Writing and Director of the Topology Research Unit in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. Prior to this, he ran the film and television department at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. His credits as a writer and director include the reggae musical feature film Babymother (1998) and as a sound artist, Knots & Donuts, exhibited at Tate Modern in 2011. Henriques researches street cultures and technologies and his publications include Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation, and Subjectivity (1998), Sonic Bodies: Reggae Sound Systems, Performance Techniques, and Ways of Knowing (2011), and Sonic Media (forthcoming).
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  • Hanna Husberg
    • Hanna Husberg is a Stockholm-based artist. She graduated from ENSB-A in Paris in 2007 and is currently a PhD in Practice candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna.
    • published contributions
  • Sabine Höhler
  • Erich Hörl
  • Timothy Johnson
  • Peter K. Haff
  • Bernd Kasparek
  • Nikos Katsikis
  • Laleh Khalili
  • Axel Kleidon
  • Alexander Klose
    • Dr. Alexander Klose studied History, Law, Philosophy, Art, and Cultural Studies. From 2005-07 he held a scholarship at Bauhaus Universität Weimar for his PhD project on standardized containers used in transport as one of the leading material media in the 20th century. Between 2009 and 2014 he worked as a research associate and programme developer at Kulturstiftung des Bundes. In 2015 in the forefront of COP 21, he co-curated Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge No. 18 – On Becoming Earthlings: 150 dialogues and exercises in shrinking and expanding the Human at Musée de l'Homme, Paris. His latest publication is: The Container Principle. How a box changes the way we think (2015).
    • published contributions
  • Karin Knorr Cetina
  • Scott Knowles
  • Nile Koetting
  • Nicole Koltick
    • Nicole Koltick is an assistant professor in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She is Founding Director of the Design Futures Lab at Westphal College, which is currently pursuing design research to stimulate debate on the potential implications of emerging technological and scientific developments within society. Koltick’s practice spans art, science, technology, design, and philosophy, and current work focuses on the philosophical, material, and relational implications of aesthetics as they intersect with emerging developments in computational creativity, artificially intelligent autonomous systems, robotics, and synthetic biological hybrids.
    • published contributions
  • Nik Kosmas
  • Matthijs Kouw
    • Matthijs Kouw joined the Rathenau Instituut, The Hague, in March 2016. He holds an MA in Philosophy and an MSc in Science and Technology Studies from the University of Amsterdam as well as a PhD from Maastricht University. In his PhD thesis, Kouw describes how and to what extent reliance on models can introduce vulnerabilities through the assumptions, uncertainties, and blind spots concomitant with modeling practice. He was employed as a postdoctoral researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), during which time he acted as a member of the Dutch delegation for plenary sessions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
    • published contributions
  • Matija Kralj
  • Kei Kreutler
  • Lars Kulik
    • Lars Kulik studied biology at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He received his doctorate on the development of social behavior of rhesus monkeys at the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. He lives with his family in Berlin.
    • published contributions
  • Richard L. Hindle
    • Richard L. Hindle is an assistant professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning at the University of California, Berkeley. His current research focuses on patent innovation in landscape related technologies, from large-scale mappings of riverine and coastal systems to detailed historical studies on the antecedents of vegetated architecture. His work explores the potential of new technological narratives and material processes to reframe theory, practice, and the production of landscape. Recent works include the articles “Levees That Might Have Been” (2015), and “Infrastructures of Innovation” in Scaling Infrastructure (MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism, 2016), and the exhibition Geographies of Innovation at UC Berkeley (2015).
    • published contributions
  • Hannah Landecker
  • Brian Larkin
  • Bruno Latour
  • Manfred Laubichler
  • John Law
    • hn Law was a professor of sociology at Keele University, Lancaster, and the Open University, Milton Keynes, and a co-director of the Economic and Social Researc
    • published contributions
  • Yoneda Lemma
    • ents from one fiction to another. She has exhibited her work at V4ULT, Berlin; Le Cube, Par
    • published contributions
  • Esther Leslie
    • t theories of aesthetics and culture, with a particular focus on the work of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. It deals with the poetics of science, European literary and visual modern
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  • George Lewis
    • my of Arts and Letters, New York. He has been a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Chicago, since 1971. Lewis’s work as composer, electronic performer, installa
    • published contributions
  • S. Løchlann Jain
  • Donald MacKenzie
  • Stefan Maier
  • Chowra Makaremi
  • Annapurna Mamidipudi
  • Laura McLean
    • Laura McLean is a curator, artist, and writer based in London. She is a graduate of Goldsmiths College and Sydney College of the Arts, where she later lectured. She has also studied at Alberta College of Art and Design, and the Universität der Künste Berlin.
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  • Eden Medina
    • Eden Medina is an associate professor of informatics and computing, affiliated associate professor of law, and adjunct associate professor of history at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research and teaching address the social, historical, and legal dimensions of our increasingly data-driven world, including the relationship of technology to human rights and free expression, the relationship between political innovation and technological innovation, and the ways that human and political values shape technological design. Medina’s writings also use science and technology as a way to broaden understandings of Latin American history and the geography of innovation. She is the author of Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile (2011) and the co-editor of Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America (2014).
    • published contributions
  • Anne-Sophie Milon
    • Anne-Sophie Milon is an artist and a freelance illustrator and animator working and living in Bristol, UK. After completing two Masters in Art, she has recently concluded the program of experimentation in Art and Politics at SciencesPo (SPEAP) in Paris.
    • published contributions
  • Paul N. Edwards
  • Gerald Nestler
    • Gerald Nestler is an artist and writer who combines theory and post-disciplinary conversation with video, installation, performance, text, code, graphics, sound, and speech. He explores what he calls the derivative condition of contemporary social relations and its paradigmatic financial models, operations, processes, narratives, and fictions. He is currently working on an “aesthetics of resolution” that maps counterfictions and counterimaginations for “renegade activism,” which revolves around the demonstration as a combined artistic, technological, social, and political practice. Nestler holds a practice-based PhD from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London.
    • published contributions
  • Huiying Ng
  • Daniel Niles
    • terial, millenary and momentary—that their knowledge takes, and, finally, the significance of this experience to our understanding of t
    • published contributions
  • James P. M. Syvitski
    • James P. M. Syvitski is Executive Director of the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS) at the University of Colorado Boulder. From 2011 to 2016, he chaired the International Council for Science’s International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), which provides essential scientific leadership and knowledge of the Earth system to help guide society toward a sustainable pathway during rapid global change. His specialty is the global flux of water and sediment (river and ocean borne) and its trends in the Anthropocene. He works at the forefront of computational geosciences, including sediment transport, land-ocean interactions, and Earth-surface dynamics.
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  • Luciana Parisi
    • Luciana Parisi is Reader in Cultural Theory, Chair of the PhD program in Cultural Studies, and Co-director of the Digital Culture Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research focuses on cybernetics, information theory and computation, complexity and evolutionary theories, and the technocapitalist investment in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. Her books include Abstract Sex: Philosophy, Biotechnology and the Mutations of Desire (2004) and Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space (2013). She is currently researching the history of automation and the philosophical consequences of logical thinking in machines.
    • published contributions
  • Lisa Parks
  • Matteo Pasquinelli
  • Karen Pinkus
    • w York. She is also a faculty fellow of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Ithaca. Author of numerous publications in literary studies, Italian studies, critical theory, and environmental humanities, Pinkus is also Editor of the journal Diacritics. In her latest book, Fuel (2016), Pinkus thinks about issues crucial to climate ch
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  • Giulia Rispoli
  • Sophia Roosth
    • t when researchers are building new biological systems in order to investigate how biology works. She holds a PhD from the Massachuse
    • published contributions
  • Arno Rosemarin
  • Rafico Ruiz
    • afico Ruiz is Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. He studies the relationships between mediation and social space, particularly in the Arctic and subarctic; the cultural geographies of natural resource engagements; and
    • published contributions
  • Kim Rygiel
    • f International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada. Her research focuses on border security, migration, and citizenship in North America and Europe. She investigates how citizens and non-citizens engage in citizenship practices and challenge notions
    • published contributions
  • Dorion Sagan
  • Isabelle Saint-Saëns
  • Birgit Schneider
  • Sever
    • SEVER was developed as a speculative design project by Francesco Sebregondi, Alexey Platonov, Inna Pokazanyeva, and Ildar Iakubov during the New Normal postgraduate program at Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow. SEVER seeks to intervene into current Arctic debates by disturbing the landscape of the region’s possible futures
    • published contributions
  • Jens Soentgen
  • C Spencer Yeh
  • Nick Srnicek
  • Lizzie Stark
    • Lizzie Stark is an author, journalist, and experience designer. She is the author of two books, Pandora’s DNA (2014), exploring so-called ‘breast cancer genes’ and her first book, Leaving Mundania (2012), which investigates the subculture of live action role play, or larp. Her journalism and essays have appeared in The Washington Post, the Daily Beast, The Today Show Website, io9, Fusion, the Philadelphia Inquirer and elsewhere. She holds an MS from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has organized numerous conventions and experiences across the US. Her most recent work is as a programming coordinator for Living Games Austin, and as co-editor and contributor for the #Feminism anthology, which collects 34 nano-games written by feminists from eleven countries.
    • published contributions
  • Carolyn Steel
  • Benjamin Steininger
  • Lucy Suchman
    • ology of Science and Technology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Lancaster, UK. Her research interests within the field of feminist science and technology studies are focused on technological imaginaries and material practices
    • published contributions
  • Kaushik Sunder Rajan
    • echnology studies, and postcolonial studies, holding a special interest in the global political economy of biomedicine, with a comparative focus on the Un
    • published contributions
  • Jenna Sutela
    • Jenna Sutela’s installations, texts, and sound performances seek to identify and react to precarious social and material moments, often in relation to technology. Most recently, she has been exploring exceedingly complex biological and computational systems, ultimately unknowable and always becoming something new. Her work has been presented, among other places, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and her writing has been published by Fiktion, Harvard Design Magazine, and Sternberg Press.
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  • Bronislaw Szerszynski
    • Bronislaw Szerszynski is a Reader in Sociology at Lancaster University in the UK. Szerszynski’s work has developed across several themes, including the role of Western religious history in shaping contemporary understandings of technology and the environment—typified by his book Nature, Technology and the Sacred (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005).
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  • Elisa T. Bertuzzo
    • Elisa T. Bertuzzo studied comparative literature, sociology, communication, and media studies and holds a PhD in urban studies. She was a curator and project leader with Habitat Forum Berlin, including for the project Paradigmising Karail Basti (2010–16). Bridging discourses from the fields of cultural and urban studies, her research focuses on the everyday life facets of urbanization and settlement in South Asia. On that topic, she published Fragmented Dhaka: Analysing Everyday Life with Henri Lefebvre’s Theory of Production of Space (2009) and runs her multimedia project Archives of Movement (since 2012), which deals with the everyday life of temporary labor migrants in Bangladesh and India.
    • published contributions
  • Gregory T. Cushman
    • Gregory T. Cushman is Associate Professor of International Environmental History at the University of Kansas.
    • published contributions
  • Nasrin Tabatabai
    • Nasrin Tabatabai is an artist who works both in Iran and the Netherlands. Since 2004, she has collaborated with Babak Afrassiabi on various joint projects and the publication of the bilingual magazine Pages (Farsi and English). Their work seeks to articulate the undecidable space between art and its historical conditions, including the recurring question of the place of the archive in defining the juncture between politics, history, and the practice of art. The artists’ work has been presented internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and they have been tutors at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2008–13), and Erg, école supérieure des arts, Brussels (2015–).
    • published contributions
  • Ksenia Tatarchenko
    • dies Institute, Geneva University, specializing in the history of Russian science and technology. She has held positions as a visiting Assistant Professor of History at NYU Shanghai and a post-doctoral fellow at the Harriman Institute, Columbia. Most broadly, she studies questions of knowledge circulation to situate Soviet developments in the global context. She is currently writing a book on science and innovation cultures in Siberia provisionally
    • published contributions
  • Katerina Teaiwa
    • Dr. Katerina Teaiwa is Associate Professor at the Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History & Language and the president of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies. Her main area of research looks at the histories of phosphate mining in the central Pacific. Her work does not only span academic research, publications, and lectures, but also manifests itself in other formats within the arts and popular culture. Her work has inspired a permanent exhibition at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which tells the story of Pacific phosphate mining through Banaban dance. In 2015, she published „Consuming Ocean Island: Stories of People and Phosphate from Banaba“, Indiana University Press. She is currently working with visual artist Yuki Kihara on a multimedia exhibition for Carriageworks in Sydney.
    • published contributions
  • Terre Thaemlitz
  • Jol Thomson
  • Claire Tolan
  • John Tresch
  • Etienne Turpin
    • Etienne Turpin is a philosopher, Founding Director of anexact office, and a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, where he coordinates the Humanitarian Infrastructures Group and co-directs the PetaBencana.id disaster mapping project for the Urban Risk Lab. He is the editor of Architecture in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Design, Deep Tim
    • published contributions
  • Asonseh Ukah
    • Asonzeh Ukah is a sociologist and historian of religion. He joined the University of Cape Town in 2013 and previously taught at the University of Bayreuth (2005–13), where he also earned a doctorate and habilitation in history of religions. His research interests include religious urbanism, the sociology of Pentecostalism, and religion and media. He is Director of the Research Institute on Christianity and Society in Africa (RICSA), University of Cape Town, and Affiliated Senior Fellow of Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), University of Bayreuth. He is the author of A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power (2008) and Bourdieu in Africa (edited with Magnus Echtler, 2016).
    • published contributions
  • Underworlds
  • Sebastian Vehlken
    • Sebastian Vehlken is a media theorist and cultural historian at Leuphana University Lüneburg and Permanent Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS). From 2013 to 2017, he worked as MECS Junior Director, and in 2015–16, he was a visiting professor at Humboldt-Universität Berlin, the University of Vienna, and Leuphana. His areas of interest include the theory and history of computer simulation and digital media, the media history of swarm intelligence, and the epistemology of think tanks. His current research project, Plutonium Worlds, explores the application of computer simulations in West German fast breeder reactor programs.
    • published contributions
  • Vladimir Vernadsky
  • Ben Vida
    • Korea, Australia ,and Europe at such institutions as the Guggenheim, New York; Centro Pecci, Prato, Italy; STUK Arts Center, Leuven
    • published contributions
  • Davor Vidas
    • Davor Vidas is a research professor in international law and Director of the Law of the Sea Programme at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Lysaker, Norway. He is Chair of the Committee on International Law and Sea Level Rise and a member of the Anthropocene Working Group. Vidas has been involved in international law research for over thirty years, focusing since 2009 on implications of the Anthropocene for the development of international law. Among his books are The World Ocean in Globalisation (2011) and Law, Technology and Science for Oceans in Globalisation (2010). He is the editor-in-chief of the book series Anthropocene (Skolska knjiga, Zagreb), launched in 2017.
    • published contributions
  • Kalindi Vora
  • Jennifer Walshe
    • porary Arts, New York; DAAD Berliner Künstle
    • published contributions
  • Hannes Wiedemann
    • Hannes Wiedemann is a Berlin-based photographer. He studied at the Ostkreuz School of Photography, Berlin. For his project Grinders (2015–16), he followed the American bodyhacking community, a small group of people across the United States working out of garages and basements to become real cyborgs. Recent exhibitions include NEW PHOTOGRAPHY II (2017) at Gallery ALAN, Istanbul, and HUMAN UPGRADE, with Susanna Hertrich (2016), at Schader-Stiftung Gallery, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt. www.hanneswiedemann.com
    • published contributions
  • Elvia Wilk
  • Cary Wolfe
    • Cary Wolfe is Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English and Founding Director of 3CT: Center for Critical and Cultural Theory at Rice University, Houston. He is the author of What Is Posthumanism? (2010), a book that weaves together principal concerns of his work: animal studies, system theory, pragmatism, and post-structuralism. It is part of the series Posthumanities, for which he serves as Founding Editor at the University of Minnesota Press. His most recent publication is Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in Biopolitical Frame (2013) and earlier books and edited collections include Animal Rites: American Culture, The Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory (2003) and Zoontologies: The Question of the Animal (2003).
    • published contributions
  • Andrew Yang
  • Jan Zalasiewicz
    • Dr. Jan Zalasiewicz is Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Leicester and Chair of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy. A field geologist, paleontologist, and stratigrapher, he teaches and publishes on geology and earth history, in particular on fossil ecosystems and environments that span over half a billion years of geological time.
    • published contributions
  • Anna Zett
  • Sander van der Leeuw
    • ionships, and complex systems theory. He investigates the preconditions for and the practices and role of invention, sustainability, and innovation in societies. He has done
    • published contributions
  • Liv Østmo
    • Liv Østmo is one of the founders and current Dean of the Sámi University of Applied Sciences, Kautokeino, Norway, where she researches and lectures on the subject of multicultural understanding. For the last eight years, Østmo has worked with traditional Sámi knowledge and she is currently working on putting the finishing touches on a methodology book about the documentation of this knowledge.
    • published contributions
Source: Flickr
Renee Barron 2010

Anthropotechnics for the Anthropocene

What if we understand the technoscientific world we live in as a result of certain cultivations of the self? How might we turn this understanding into new trainings and techniques of thought, of feeling, intuiting, and acting? Historian John Tresch looks at the history of modern science from the angle of spiritual athleticism, ascetic practices and epistemic virtues, examining the possibility of grappling with the existential conditions of the technosphere in ways that might be considered “wise.”
1. Wisdom Techniques?
“Wisdom” is a word with an erratic valence, used much less often these days than, say, “knowledge,” “skill,” or “science.” It’s not something one can formally seek to learn or develop—you can’t take a degree in “Wisdom Studies.” At the same time, the very awkwardness that one feels in preparing to stand up in public to talk about it suggests that “wisdom” remains something that is valued and even powerful—a rare quality you should approach only with a respectful caution. Following “wisdom” with the term “techniques,” however, does seem to bring it into reach. “Wisdom techniques” suggests wisdom may be a goal one can attain through deliberate action—a result not only of grace but also of work. It also seems to bring to the surface a condition that implies a detachment from ordinary affairs, at a contemplative distance from the pulsing, grinding, squealing, and beeping welter of machines and systems in the various states of integration and functionality that make up our world ‒ some shiny, bright, and connected, some rusting, failing, and ignored. That ambiguous juxtaposition makes the present exploration a search not for answers but, in a very speculative and experimental mode, for questions. For example, what might be the place and meaning of wisdom in the contemporary world? What techniques seem to embody or produce it? How do these stand in relation to other techniques or technologies? The last question is particularly acute when we think of the contemporary planet as a “technosphere”—a mesh of apparatuses and mechanisms of different scales and materials woven into the body of the Earth, in which human ideas and motivations have driven explorations, fortifications, and incessant research. A world of scaffoldings and rigs, of social and technical organizations which are inseparable from the orders of nature—inseparable from forests and fields and bedrock, inseparable from the oceans and atmospheres that surround us. Taken this way, the technosphere may be another way of talking about the Anthropocene, the proposed geological age where human industry has transformed the Earth for millions of years to come. However, the technosphere focuses attention on the space in between human ideas and the forces of the nonhuman world: it leads one to concentrate on technologies for transforming exterior milieus, such as the industries of oil extraction, splitting atoms, and building and powering engines. It also points to technologies of knowledge, including telescopes and microscopes, scanners, experiments, and simulations. Yet I wish to propose a discussion of “techniques” of a more intimate nature, of a physiological, psychological, mental, and even spiritual form; techniques that concern also the interior milieu: the skilled practices that humans have devised and applied to train and reshape themselves. These can be called “anthropotechniques” (Sloterdijk, at least, uses this term – it’s not my invention). These include ascetic disciplines, gymnastics, types of yoga, and other structured patterns of action which transform less the external world than the body and the mind. Such practices become habits, which in turn set the backdrop for any “technology” or “knowledge.” Humans must be shaped into the kinds of beings who can build and make; who can receive and create knowledge. Given the many years before children are able to operate semi-autonomously in the world they inherit—training, Bildung, “la formation,” conditioning, is inescapable in the human condition.Clare Carlisle, On Habit. London: Routledge, 2014.
Shaolin. Oncle.o. 2014. Source: Flickr

Most training of this sort aims at making sure that business continues as usual. However, mixing forms of training from one branch of learning with another is also the basis for novelty, for extending experience, endurance, perception. Historians of science have studied how new laboratory apparatus produces new objects and new relations, manifesting latencies and virtualities, stabilizing phenomena. Likewise, new self-disciplines can tap into, redirect, and transform what the philosopher William James called “the energies of men.William James, “The energies of men,” Science 25, no. 635 (1907): pp. 321‒32; Francesca Bordogna, William James at the Boundaries: Philosophy, science, and the geography of knowledge. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
Thus, “wisdom techniques” calls to mind techniques of transformation and discovery not only in the external world but also in the internal world. This therefore means openness to older, often forgotten forms of knowledge, which fall into categories that may seem a long way from “global warming” and “environmental change”: these include self-help, spiritual practice, and religion. It is reasonable at this point to wonder what exactly a history and speculative exploration of bodily and mental practices have to do with the Anthropocene? Why this line of thinking, when what we need are concrete technical innovations ‒ or new forms of aesthetic representation ‒ or political strategies to allow experts, citizens, and even polluted oceans, disappearing species, and shrinking ice caps, to be heard above the usual clamor over national security and monetary profits? Of course, we do need to work on technical and scientific, artistic, and political forms to address the environmental breakdown caused by runaway consumption. Nonetheless, the Anthropocene names a situation so multifaceted, fast-changing, and unpredictable that the usual forms of problem-solving and expert advice are insufficient. The roots of the situation lie beyond the domains of the natural sciences: they can be found at the level of human political and economic organization, but even more fundamentally, in the habits of thought, feeling, and action, in imaginations, cravings, commitments, attitudes, relationships with nature, views of the good life, and of what’s possible. There cannot be a single solution for a “super wicked problem” like this. Instead, the question is how each of us, caught in the groove of our own training and experience, can deviate from our usual track sufficiently in order to hear and build upon the message coming from another track, or perhaps forge a new one. Additionally, we need new ways of sensing the relationships we already hold, yet which remain invisible or outside our consciousness. These are the relationships, for example, between staying in the dark or switching on a light, driving or taking public transportation, relationships between our desire for comfort for ourselves and our families and friends, and the production of greenhouse gases and the filling up of the landfills. But awareness of these relationships often takes place at a level prior to representations ‒ whether arguments, facts, or even striking artistic realizations: instead, now, it’s at a level of sensing invisible connections, learning to register their impact without words, even without symbols. Perhaps they even require new senses and modes of attunement. The question is how to sink new perceptions and attunements into the body and the mind and make them hold. An essential point about disciplines and anthropotechniques is that they are not a one-time thing, not a single event: they are long-term, even a life-long training, with heavy demands on personal time and patience. They are about testing—as in Benedict Spinoza’s phrase—what a body can do.“No one has yet determined what the body can do.” See Benedict de Spinoza, A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics, and Other Works, ed. and trans. Edwin Curley. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994; Gilles Deleuze, Expressionism in Spinoza, trans. Martin Joughin. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992.
What happens if we repeat this phrase, if we maintain this pose, if we pay attention to our breathing, and quiet our thoughts; what if we visualize this form for just a little longer? What experience awaits us, what new way of being? What new flexibility or sensitivity becomes possible after repeating these courses of training, after making them daily habits? Such techniques pass outside or beyond the communication of facts ‒ possibly even beyond practical skill, or even prudence and phronesis. These techniques are about knowing with expanded and deepened senses—some of which may be beyond the verifiably biophysical. They may involve knowing not just what to do and say, but how to refrain from action, when and how to remain silent, how to weigh different ways of knowing, and adapt them to shifting demands. They may even help develop something like the “wisdom” in this contribution’s title. This may seem like a new way of talking about science, technology, art, and religion but, actually, it is also among the oldest.
2. There are no Religions and Science is one of Them
Philosophers and sociologists are acutely aware of this dimension to life: Émile Durkheim talked about the physical and emotional habits behind collective representations; Marcel Mauss’ “bodily techniques” (combined with readings of Thomas Aquinas, Erwin Panofsky, and Martin Heidegger) inspired Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of “habitus,” a structure of trained dispositions. Michel Foucault drew attention to the bodily discipline applied to individuals and populations at the intersection of human sciences, surveillance techniques, and institutions for training and reform. He later gave these disciplines a more positive spin, examining “techniques of the self” practiced by ancient philosophers to produce “ethical subjects” of themselves ‒ including introspection, journal writing, visualization, and proscriptions on diet, sleep, sex, and speech. This updated Friedrich Nietzsche’s obsession with the bodily origins of ideas and attitudes, including the violent mnemonics that created humans as “an animal which can promise.Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, trans. Joseph Ward Swain. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2008[1915]; Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, trans. Richard Nice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977; Marcel Mauss and Nathan Schlanger, Techniques, Technology and Civilization. New York: Berghahn Books, 2006; Erwin Panofsky, Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism. Latrobe, PA: Archabbey Press, 1951; Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The birth of the prison. New York: Vintage Books, 1977; Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The use of pleasure. New York: Vintage Books, 2012; Friedrich Nietzsche,. On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo, trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Vintage Books, 2010; see also André Leroi-Gourhan,. Gesture and Speech. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993.
A more recent effort is Peter Sloterdijk’s You Must Change Your Life.Sloterdijk, Peter, You Must Change Your Life, trans. Wieland Hoban. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2013.
Here, Sloterdijk proposes a new take on modernity, in fact on human history, retold through the story of “anthropotechniques” or method of training routines and disciplines. His argument dusts off some old notions such as Karl Jaspers’ Axial age—the era, starting around 500 BCE, when new religions and philosophies appeared worldwide laying emphasis on individual ethics and transcendence.Karl Jaspers, The Origin and Goal of History, trans. Michael Bullock. New Haven, CN: Yale University Press, 1953; see also Bronislaw Szerszynski, “From the Anthropocene Epoch to a New Axial Age: Using theory fictions to explore geo-spiritual futures,” in Celia Deane-Drummond, Sigurd Bergmann, and Markus Vogt (eds), Religion and the Anthropocene (forthcoming).
For Sloterdijk, this decisive epoch in the history of world civilizations was the result ‒ as every great leap in the capacities and definition of the human has been ‒ of new anthropotechniques. New trainings in ascetic and spiritual techniques, such as fasting, meditation, and the development of attention, require stepping out of the ordinary flow of the river of existence. For Sloterdijk such training is the source of the most important innovations in the history of humanity. He gives one of his chapters the provocative title: “No religions exist” ‒ there are no religions. His audacious claim is that what we take to be essential to religions ‒ credos and narratives about creation and the afterlife, moral codes, symbols, rituals, and institutions ‒ actually are secondary phenomena. They all appear after the founding act of any religion, which is when some individual pushes farther and more fiercely along the tracks of some new training routine and arrives at an otherwise inaccessible truth or insight into reality. Returning to the collective with an incomprehensible account of these other realms, his awestruck followers translate these elusive realities into the elaborate scenographies of harmful spirits, ancestors, deities, and saints; that is, the moral prescriptions and rites which make up the objects of religious scholarship. According to Sloterdijk, the heroic accomplishments of these spiritual athletes transform the course of history by pointing to new and difficult routes toward which even ordinary people can strive. They offer new horizons, which often take the form of a goal of liberation from everyday life into an “otherworld” or a “beyond.” He doesn’t advocate any single training, insisting that there is no one true path forward, and certainly no fixed end point to reach. Each course of practices and habits is a largely blind striving toward well-marked plateaus, and beyond them, toward untested and previously unknown peaks of “Mount Improbable.” Combining and merging distinct practice traditions has brought about new techniques in training, which further enrich the course of history: Francis of Assisi’s saintly path, for instance, joined monastic renunciation with the naturalism and romantic emotionalism of courtly love poetry. Ignatius of Loyola fused the monastery’s prayer and devotion with knightly training in combat and self-sacrifice, forging a guiding example for the Counter-Reformation.
Saint Francis instructs the Wolf, engraving. Carl Weidemeyer-Worpswede 1911. Source: Wiki Commons

Sloterdijk acknowledges a debt to Foucault (the other prominent twentieth-century philosopher who took Heidegger’s attempts to articulate the variable houses of Being as an imperative to study spaces, technologies, and bodily practices), but laments the excessive attention Foucault paid to prisons, asylums, and hospitals. Instead, for Sloterdijk the most important actors for turning all of humanity into spiritual athletes, into monks of both transcendent and worldly orders, were the great early-modern theorists of pedagogy and instruction. His main example is John Amos Comenius, the seventeenth-century Moravian who laid the foundations for modern mass education. The builders of schools had far wider and deeper effects on the transformations of humanity than the builders of prisons did ‒ although both added to the store of methods for making and remaking bodies in order to create new minds. There is something refreshing about Sloterdijk’s retelling of the emergence of the modern technosphere in terms of spiritual practices and training regimes, and his call for widespread research into anthropotechniques. He sees an entirely new field opening up through the collection and comparison of techniques which all cultures possess—and which form the real basis of their differences, far beyond genetic differences. Yet his own book only draws lightly on the practice traditions of other cultures, which in many cases are far more developed than any in the West. For instance, the Hindu Shastras, including the Arthashastra, Dharmashastra, and Kamashastras as well as Yogashastras, all inventory techniques for maximizing wisdom, pleasure, and ability to rule over others by ruling over oneself. Likewise, as in the Lukhang retreat, a temple built by the fifth Dalai Lama in Lhasa in the seventeenth century, Buddhist traditions preserve vast arsenals of physical and contemplative practices aimed at loosening attachment to the self and cultivating insight into the non-duality of objects and subjects, mind and matter.The Lukhang retreat, recently introduced in an exhibition held at London’s Wellcome Collection: [“Tibet’s secret Temple”](https://wellcomecollection.org/secrettemple), accessed October 26, 2016.
At the Lukhang temple, these practices are ordered like items in a library, depicted on the image of the mural seen here as a reference manual for things one might do to, with, and for oneself; the energies and deities one will encounter along the way; and the transformations to expect on the other side.
Zongdag Lukhang Temple murals of yogis engaged in their exercises. Pandarek 2015. Source: Flickr

Western scholars of religion have had a tendency to focus on religious beliefs, symbols, representations, or social organizations, evacuating the power and undermining the epistemic claims of spiritual practices. Further, even when such trainings are translated to the West, often there is a neutralization of their ethical content and wider frames of experience and reference. Take for example consumer-friendly yoga or secularized “mindfulness” training, which offers instruction for developing moment-to-moment attention through repeated exercises but in many cases without the ethical framework of the right action, right speech, and right livelihood, and often without the end-goal of liberation. While “mindfulness” has exposed millions to ancient Buddhist practices, it has often done so by grafting it to other trainings aimed at marketing and management.Stefanie Syman, The Subtle Body: The story of yoga in America. New York: Macmillan, 2010; Andrea R. Jain, “Mystics, Gymnasts, Sexologists, and other Yogis: Divergence and collectivity in the history of modern yoga,” Religious Studies Review 37, no. 1 (2011): pp. 19‒23; Linda Heuman, [“Don’t Believe the Hype,” tricycle](http://tricycle.org/trikedaily/dont-believe-hype/) accessed October 28, 2016; Norman Farb, “From Retreat Center to Clinic to Boardroom? Perils and promises of the modern mindfulness movement,” Religions 5, no. 4 (2014): pp. 1062‒86; Joanna Cook, “Mindful in Westminster: The politics of meditation and the limits of neoliberal critique,” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 6, no. 1 (2016): pp. 141‒61.
This observation is in line with the long course of development Sloterdijk traces in Western modernity, which he does with some help from Max Weber.Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the “Spirit” of Capitalism and Other Writings. New York: Penguin, 2002.
Western asceticisms have followed a long journey, traveling from ancient routines of gymnastics and philosophy-as-a-way-of-life, to the hothouse of the medieval monastery, and from there, with the dissolution of monasteries during the European Reformation, out into the world. From the early modern period, various ascetic kits went on to redefine individual and collective practices of war, politics, scholarship, arts, and sports. The drive for habits of self-control and self-transcendence continues, even after the primary goal of salvation has faded: it now takes the form of a general athleticism, adopted by nation-states or imposed in neoliberal markets, in which it has become everyone’s personal responsibility to adopt some form of practice as a means of “wellness.”
Sports day. Ref54 2007. Source: Flickr

Harvard Freshman Crew pose while training on the Thames River at New London, Connecticutt, June 21, 1934. The Happy Rower 2034. Source: Flickr

3. Anthropotechnics of the Sciences
Yet the West has made its greatest impact on the planet through its scientific and industrial attainments. There seems to be, then, an important oversight in Sloterdijk’s story—one with great relevance for the technosphere. Despite all the work of science studies and histories of science, there remains a powerful tendency to consider science as a body of facts, theories, or attitudes—rather than in terms of its practices and concrete settings. Beyond focusing our attention on these external factors, we might also re-conceive the history of science in terms of the physical and mental disciplines—many of them first elaborated in the monastery and convent—to prepare knowers for acquiring and maintaining bodies of knowledge and to allow for their expansion and modification. What would a history of science and technology look like if told through the history of training routines, disciplines, and individual and collective anthropotechniques? How might we study technoscience, not as a set of theories, facts, or even (as in much recent work) as institutions, objects, and technical apparatuses, but as a set of disciplined explorations into the potential capabilities of both researchers and their objects, as expeditions from the base camp of Mount Improbable, combined and recombined? We would have to expand Sloterdijk’s formula: there are no religions, and science is one of them. The medieval monastery would necessarily continue to play a central role in this genealogy. Here, techniques of the vita contemplativa in ancient philosophy were integrated into a form of collective life at an astounding pitch of intensity, where every thought, act, and breath was to be directed toward the single goal of salvation. This was the testing ground of manuscript culture and its scholarly habits, as well as the repetitions and trainings of the trivium—including rhetoric’s topoi and theaters of memory, later renewed as a core of self-cultivation practices in the Renaissance. The quadrivium’s habits of measurement and comparison (in astronomy, mathematics, geometry, and music) were also later grafted onto the skilled routines of craftsmen—a key step in the emergence of mechanical philosophy and its combined epistemic, technical, and moral aims.Jean-Claude Schmitt, “The Rational of Gestures in the West: A history from the 3rd to the 13th centuries,” in Fernando Poyatos (ed.), Advances in Nonverbal Communication: Sociocultural, clinical, esthetic and literary perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1992, pp. 77‒98.
Even in the “scientific revolution”—supposedly the moment of a decisive breakaway from the religious past and towards modern materialism—spiritual practices form a strong through-line. Practices associated with “the good life” and “ascetic virtue” were central to modern natural philosophy in the cultivation of courtly manners, in the habits of detached discernment, and plain speech embodied by Robert Boyle, as well as in Isaac Newton’s habits of self-denial, in line with his idiosyncratic researches into alchemy and biblical history.Steven Shapin, “The Philosopher and the Chicken,” in Christopher Lawrence and Steven Shapin (eds), Science Incarnate. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1998: pp. 21‒50.
Similarly, René Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, an indisputable source for mechanical philosophy, traces an otherworldly narrative before arriving at the world known to science. It begins with the philosopher retreating from the world around him into an isolated cell, then, step by step, the removing of all familiar reference points, including any input to his senses until he contemplates of only “clear and distinct” ideas: his own thinking soul, the perfection of God, the truths of geometry. Yet while the text clears the path for mechanical science, its model is the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola and the multiday retreats which all Jesuits had to undertake, which strengthened their faith through mnemonics and practices of clear and distinct visualization. Modern science emerged, in part, by rewriting monastic scripts for self-transformation.Matthew L. Jones, The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution: Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, and the cultivation of virtue. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
As historians of science Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison have shown an important part of modern “objectivity” is the “epistemic virtues” and routine habits of mind and body through which individual knowers discipline themselves. Eighteenth-century mathematics training continued the repetitions and writing habits of monasteries, and moved them out into the world in the form of surveying, mapping, and engineering. In nineteenth-century Cambridge, the new mathematics curriculum, which was administered with common drills and meticulously repeated proofs, in a setting that combined fraternal solidarity with individual competition for the prize of being named “Wrangler,” unfolding in perfect resonance with the gymnastics training, running, and crewing that mathematics students undertook.Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Objectivity. New York: Zone Books, 2007; Andrew Warwick, Masters of Theory: Cambridge and the rise of mathematical physics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
The reformed research universities of the late nineteenth century and the new American universities such as Johns Hopkins borrowed from the Humboldtian model the ritual of the seminar and the disciplined repetitions and bricolage of the laboratory. Yet, these disciplines now were tied to new gymnasia and playing fields, the new stadiums where the skills and virtues of the lab director and administrator were echoed in those of the quarterback. This was even more bluntly the case at the West Point Military Academy—the institution into which blackboards were first introduced in the United States, for math and engineering, then for football training, which led to scenario-projection in War Rooms.William Clark, Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2006; Larry Owens, “Pure and sound government: Laboratories, playing fields, and gymnasia in the nineteenth-century search for order,” Isis 76, no. 2 (1985): pp. 182‒94; Christopher J. Phillips, “An Officer and a Scholar: Nineteenth‐century West Point and the invention of the blackboard,” History of Education Quarterly 55, no. 1 (2015): pp. 82‒108.
Colombo Plan recipients Miss Low Beng See and Miss Huang Su Eng from Malaysia. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 2014. Source: Flickr

Clearly, such genealogies continue into the present, but with modifications. What kind of anthropotechnics of knowledge are we inculcating now? What are the training routines, administered in schools or on individual courses of study, which are producing virtuosic scenario-planners, data-miners, algorithm designers and “value-creators”? How do the bureaucratic habits of bioethics and internal review boards create an ethics of research, and in what ways do they prevent others from arising? What techniques now drive our training in programming, in working with probabilities, in forecasting, in choosing among various competing models, in evaluating experts, and choosing from among entirely different forms of expertise?
Zakwitnij!pl Ejdzej & Iric 2008. Source: Flickr

The pursuit of such inquiries into the anthropotechniques of scientific knowledge could give us a grip on a crucial strand in the contemporary technosphere—one which we must grasp in order to have any hope of unraveling its current state, or of re-weaving it into less self-destructive forms. In broader terms, the question is something like this: Through what techniques and disciplinary kits have humans produced the kinds of people capable of making scientific discoveries and technological innovations, of building on past discoveries and pushing them farther, of instituting them and extending them until they form the net of facticity and technical control which now seems inescapable? Furthermore, what aspects of this training and practice have made people so blind when it comes to foreseeing the critical damage brought by wide-scale industrialization, so deficient when it comes to grappling with the true causes of climate change, so powerless at redirecting the headlong path toward geocide (or something close to it) upon which we seem embarked? What practices have trained not only scholars and citizens but also the experts who help direct our societies, to focus on a single problem or domain and its short-term solutions, while they ignore its side effects and unforeseen consequences?
4. Monasteries of the Future
Finally, such questions bring us back to the task we set ourselves at the outset: to imagine and institute new anthropotechniques. Not to replace those currently in practice, but to combine with them, in order to create subjects—ourselves, first of all—capable of sustained awareness and orientation toward the relations and consequences of our acts, and those of our lawmakers and other powers, upon the well-being of all Earth’s inhabitants. I end with questions, not answers, returning to the place we began. What training can provide the ground for instilling and renewing the attitudes, motivations, and impulses that interrupt the status quo, in our own routines, and those of others? What new monasteries and training sites might we institute, to form subjects capable of responding thoughtfully and competently to expertise and to intuitions—and even to wisdom—which reaches us from beyond the narrow pathways set by our earliest training regimes? What new ways of being alone together— the paradox at the etymological root of “monastery”— might allow more compelling sensitivities to our inescapable interdependence to take root?
Revised from a talk given during the Wisdom Techniques investigation at the Technosphere × Knowledge event at HKW, Berlin, April 16, 2016.