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Message posted on 20/11/2023

Seminars sessions online on the history of Moore's Law and American Science

                Dear all,

I write you ton inform you of two upcoming seminars with Cyrus Mody, historian
of science and technology studies, on the 29th and 30th november 2023 (both in
english, online or in-person in Paris). Those talks might be of interest for
subscribers of this list, regarding critical studies of computing and

Hope you'll be able to join, looking forward for the discussion!

29.11.2023  16h/18h (CET time)
The Long Arm of Moores Law: Microelectronics and American Science {Digital
/ Sciences Po Paris or via zoom (you receive zoom link after registration)
Registration here:
(abstract below, Cyrus Mody, The long arm of Moore's Law (MIT Press,

30.11.2023 - 16h/18h (CET time)

The Squares: US Physical and Engineering Scientists in the Long 1970s {Seminar
on the history of

/ CNAM Paris or via Microsoft Teams (you receive link after registration)
Registration here:
(abstract below, Cyrus Mody, The Squares (MIT Press,


29.11.2023  16h/18h (CET time)
The Long Arm of Moores Law: Microelectronics and American Science

A number of historical and STS works in recent years have argued that there
were largescale changes in the organization of American and global science in
the two decades before and the two decades after the end of the Cold War -
that science became more entrepreneurial, more collaborative, more
interdisciplinary, more applied, and generally adapted to the neoliberal turn
in culture and politics. The paradigmatic cases for illustrating this
neoliberal turn have come from the life sciences. In The Long Arm of Moore's
Law I show that many of these changes directly or indirectly resulted from the
semiconductor industry's need to maintain the pace of miniaturization (and
hence innovation) in microelectronics. I present a series of case studies of
corporate, academic, and government research laboratories looking at: (failed)
attempts to accelerate Moore's Law though alternative electronics
technologies; new institutions bridging universities and industry that aimed
to respond to growing competition from Japan; and the effects of the migration
of corporate researchers into academia as the giant corporate labs of
companies like AT&T and IBM shrank.


30.11.2023 - 16h/18h (CET time)
The Squares: US Physical and Engineering Scientists in the Long 1970s

The late 1960s and early 1970s have drawn attention from historians of US
science for almost two decades now. Yet most of that literature has focused on
"groovy" countercultural and/or politically activist scientists on the left
and right, rather on "square" scientists who were politically ambivalent
and/or reticent. We also have, as yet, rather little understanding of how the
early 1970s turned into the late 1970s, and how the late '70s evolved into the
Reagan era. In my recent book, The Squares (MIT Press, 2022) I show that
square scientists were involved in many of the socially responsible activities
as their more outspoken colleages on the left - "socially responsible"
research to developed technologies for alternative energy, public housing,
public transport, pollution detection and remediation, assistive devices for
people with disabilities, delivering energy and medicine to remote (often poor
and minoritized) communities, etc. In today's language, the early 1970s were a
golden age of Responsible Research and Innovation; and, indeed, the fields
that make up RRI today (including Technology Assessment and STS) came out of
this milieu. Yet after the energy crisis of 1973 and the recession of 1975,
the nation's changing political mood encouraged square scientists and
engineers to refocus on less radical topics, often in collaboration with
industry. Thus, the late 1970s saw a swing away from responsible innovation -
something that today's RRI rarely acknowledges is possible. This talk explores
the reasons why square scientists and engineers move toward and away from
responsibility, and the political and cultural circumstances that can
encourage them in either direction.


Cyrus Mody is an historian at Maastricht University of recent science and
technology, specifically the applied physical sciences in the United States
since 1965.  His research studies the commercialization of academic research,
the longue dure of responsible research and innovation (RRI), and the
technopolitics of scarcity in the long 1970s. For 2020-2025, Prof. Mody is the
principal investigator for an NWO (Netherland Organisation for Scientific
Research) Vici grant, "Managing Scarcity and Sustainability: The Oil Industry,
Environmentalism, and Alternative Energy in the Age of Scarcity"

Cyrus Mody, The long arm of Moore's Law (MIT Press,
Cyrus Mody, The Squares (MIT Press,

Adrien Tournier
Doctorant au sein du laboratoire HT2S du CNAM
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