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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 science.

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 materialities seminar} / 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, 2016)

30.11.2023 - 16h/18h (CET time)

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

/ CNAM Paris or via Microsoft Teams (you receive link after registration) Registration here: 392295 (abstract below, Cyrus Mody, The Squares (MIT Press, 2022)

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" (

Books; Cyrus Mody, The long arm of Moore's Law (MIT Press, 2016) Cyrus Mody, The Squares (MIT Press, 2022)

Adrien Tournier Doctorant au sein du laboratoire HT2S du CNAM

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