Read an interview with Professor David Bates

David Bates headshot

Oct 14, 2021

Read an interview with Professor David Bates in the French publication, Usbek & Rica. During his recent visit to Paris, historian David Bates spoke with Uskbek & Rica, for whom the way we design our machines structurally prevents us from thinking about the future. See excerpt below. Read the full interview here: “One can imagine machines designed to open up problems rather than solve them”

Usbek & Rica: Your work focuses on the possibility of creating new standards with machines. First, can you briefly go over how standards govern human life?

DAVID BATES: There are three normative domains through which we can look at humans. The first is the biological realm, which makes us animals with limited brain and physical abilities. What sets us apart from other animals is that we realize that we inherit some of our habits and pass them on: we live within cultural and historical systems. And then there is the technological field. It often seems less important than the previous two, but humans are also defined by their ability to use tools, and above all to think and live through the technical systems they create. So there are no standards that define the human: in fact, this one is constituted by three spheres which, each one, has its own standards. We often hear that we should drop our phones to be more sociable. But there is no possible return to an original human without a machine: technology is part of the human, without however defining it completely.