The Wells College Division of Academic and Student Life presents a special lecture with Dr. Langdon Winner, professor of political science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The lecture, titled "The Rise and Fall of Techno-Triumphalism," will take place at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, November 2 in the Hostetter Lecture Hall (Room 209) of Stratton Hall on the Wells College campus. This lecture is part of the “This Community Reads!” series and ties in with Wells’ Community Read, Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon.
Dr. Winner will describe the development of the idea of progress, looking closely at the reinvention of the American dream through technological advance. In his talk, Dr. Winner will examine the idea that more science produces better technology, enhances human powers and generates prosperity for all. That belief—called “Techno-Triumphalism"—has guided modern societies, but Dr. Winner will present mounting evidence from key sources such as energy debates, climate concerns and Wall Street that indicate that the dream is exhausted and that attempts to re-inflate it through enthusiasm for innovation and sustainability merely postpone “the day of reckoning.” He will discuss some prominent challenges that this predicament presents.
“I'd argue that a set of long brewing circumstances in energy, climate, and economic inequality now spell the end of the triumphalist vision,” said Dr. Winner. “There is still hope, but it will not be secured through ‘innovation’ or ‘green technology’ or other fantasies that our leaders sometimes promote.”
Dr. Winner is the Thomas Phelan Chair of Humanities and Social Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Author of Autonomous Technology, The Whale and the Reactor, and many other works, he is widely known for his writing on the politics of technology. An active citizen/scholar, he has long been engaged in social movements that promote technological systems beneficial to humanity while resisting those destructive to local communities and the environment. He is a member of organizations such as the American Political Science Association and American Association for the Advancement of Science, is on the board of directors for the Society for Philosophy and Technology and the Nature Institute, and has appeared in conferences of the International Forum on Globalization and The Einstein Forum, among others.