Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives)

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9780521675888: Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives)

This 2007 book considers how agencies are currently figured at the human-machine interface, and how they might be imaginatively and materially reconfigured. Contrary to the apparent enlivening of objects promised by the sciences of the artificial, the author proposes that the rhetorics and practices of those sciences work to obscure the performative nature of both persons and things. The question then shifts from debates over the status of human-like machines, to that of how humans and machines are enacted as similar or different in practice, and with what theoretical, practical and political consequences. Drawing on scholarship across the social sciences, humanities and computing, the author argues for research aimed at tracing the differences within specific sociomaterial arrangements without resorting to essentialist divides. This requires expanding our unit of analysis, while recognizing the inevitable cuts or boundaries through which technological systems are constituted.

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Book Description:

This 2007 book provides a way of understanding how human actions and technological artifacts are intertwined. The author shows how leading edge technologies can rest on very old-fashioned assumptions, while more modest initiatives suggest innovative approaches to technology design and use.

About the Author:

Lucy Suchman is Professor of Anthropology of Science and Technology in the Sociology Department at Lancaster University. She is also the Co-Director of Lancaster's Centre for Science Studies. Before her post at Lancaster University, she spent 20 years as a researcher at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Her research focused on the social and material practices that make up technical systems, which was explored through critical studies and experimental and participatory projects in new technology design. In 2002, she received the Diana Forsythe Prize for Outstanding Feminist Anthropological Research in Science, Technology and Medicine.

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