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Project Cybersyn (Chile's socialist internet) - Big Data Lessons from Our Cybernetic Past

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We are often told that past holds lessons on how to approach the present, but we rarely look to older technologies for inspiration. Rarer still do we look at the historical experiences of less industrialized nations to teach us about the technological problems of today. In this talk, Eden Medina shares her research on Project Cybersyn, an early computer network built in Chile to further a political project for revolutionary change. She uses this history to outline important lessons for future data-driven technologies.



About Eden Medina (Indiana University, Bloomington):
Eden Medina is Associate Professor of Informatics and Computing and Director of the Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research uses technology as a means to understand historical processes and she brings together studies of technology, history, and law in her writings. Her work studies how political projects shape the design, function, and use of computer systems, how computers have been used historically to bring about structural changes in society, and how political innovation can spur technological innovation.

Medina holds a B.S.E. in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University, a Master’s in Studies of Law from Yale Law School, and a Ph.D. in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology from MIT. Her first book, Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende’s Chile (MIT Press) received the Edelstein Prize for outstanding book in the history of technology and the Computer History Museum Prize for outstanding book in the history of computing. She is also the recipient of the IEEE Life Member’s Prize in Electrical History awarded by the Society for the History of Technology. In 2014, she published the co-edited volume Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology and Society in Latin America (MIT Press).