Film and Media Studies: ANNUAL NEW MEDIA LECTURE
Can Computers Create Meaning?: A Cyber-Bio-Semiotic Perspective
N. Katherine Hayles, Distinguished Research Professor, University of California, Los Angeles, James B. Duke Professor of Literature Emerita
Biosemiotics, as developed by Jesper Hoffmeyer, Wendy Wheeler, Terence Deacon and others, has made a convincing case that all lifeforms participate in the exchange, interpretation, and circulation of meanings, even for organisms that do not have brains or central nervous systems. However, Hoffmeyer, Wheeler and Deacon all insist that computers do not participate in the circulation and interpretation of meanings through sign exchanges, an increasingly problematic position given the complexity of contemporary networked and programmed machines. This talk will critically examine the reasons given by biosemioticians for excluding machines and make the contrary argument that computers do indeed generate, interpret, and circulate meanings. The implications of this claim for ethical theories will also be explored.
Friday, April 26 at 5:00pm