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'Humanity + Technology' lecture series resumes with internet freedom talk

Release Date: August 20, 2019

The second year of a lecture series on the technologies we make and how they affect our lives will begin next month at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield.

The “Humanity + Technology Lecture Series” event will take place Thursday, Sept. 12 at 12:30 p.m. in the Mary E. Marburger Science and Engineering Auditorium, Room S100 in LTU’s Science Building (building 7 at www.ltu.edu/map). Free parking is available nearby at Parking Lots C, D, and E on the map.

The lecture series is funded in part by Michigan Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Tung-Hui Hu.


The speaker is Tung-Hui Hu, a former network engineer who is now an assistant professor English at the University of Michigan, and author of “A Prehistory of the Cloud” (MIT Press, 2015). The book traces the history of the now-ubiquitous data cloud, which grew out of such older networks as railroad tracks, water lines, and television circuits, partly through Cold War military bunkers that later became data centers.

At LTU, Hu’s talk is titled “Against (Internet) Freedom.” He notes that Internet freedom is one of the most deeply ingrained ideas in digital culture. But, he asks, what do we really mean by that idea? And who are the pirates, spammers, and fraudsters who profit from it? Hu will look at what can go wrong when we believe too deeply in what he calls the myth of Internet freedom, when defenders of Internet freedom turn into cyber-vigilantes, and when CAPTCHA tests decide—with a decidedly racial tinge—who is, and who isn’t, really human.

According to Paul Jaussen, associate professor of literature at LTU and co-director of the lecture series, “Humanity + Technology” features “visiting humanities scholars researching technology’s effects on society, culture, and politics. Our speakers range from philosophers and historians to psychologists and literary critics, all united by a common interest in technology’s human side.”

Future events in the series for the 2019-20 academic year include the psychology of video games, the politics of the Flint water crisis, and the legacy of renowned science fiction author Octavia Butler.

The series is hosted by the LTU Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Communication. Partners in the lecture series include LTU’s Marburger STEM Center, the College of Architecture and Design, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Southfield Public Library. More at https://www.ltu.edu/humantech/index.asp.


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