The Naturalization of Humans in the Anthropocene

August 26th, 2018

Bernd Scherer discusses the various ways in which technology shapes human society and calls attention to the capacities to which algorithmic software modifies our view of the world.

 

Keynote lecture from the conference on August 23-25, 2018

In which ways do technologies shape and alter humans and the environment? Rather than merely intervening in the Earth system, human technologies are now bringing about transformations of planetary scale.

As Scherer points out, entire infrastructures, such as complex electricity and data networks, have been built around these technologies, effectively creating a second “nature,” through which not only the environment but human activity itself has become exploitable, commodified, and in that way, naturalized. The availability of social processes in the form of data sets then paves the way for the smooth and seamless control of societal activities. Looking into the future, Scherer therefore stresses the necessity to reclaim the cultural-political space from technological governance.