Berkeley Film & Media Seminar


The Making of Human Mistakes in the Era of Artificial Intelligence, 1940–1990

Thu, Dec 08, 2022, 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

142 Dwinelle

Johan Fredrikzon

In this lecture I will present two studies. The first, which is a compressed version of my Ph.D. thesis, tells the history of how, in the 1960s and 70s, the environment and the population were turned into “problems of data” and how the cultural techniques to manage these areas – modeling, linking, and reuse – transformed the state’s perception of them as objects of knowledge. The second study, from where I picked the title for my lecture, is still in a very early phase. It is planned as an investigation of the history of artificial intelligence from the perspective of errors and mistakes. Not in the sense of failed AI projects or a general view of AI as a flawed undertaking, but as a study of how the notion of what constitutes a mistake has influenced what has counted as intelligence in humans and machines, respectively, during the first half century of AI work.

Johan Fredrikzon is a postdoc fellow at The Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, currently a visiting scholar at the Department of Film & Media at The University of California, Berkeley. He holds a Master of Computer Science from Stockholm University where he also received his Ph.D. in the History of Ideas in 2021. In his research, Fredrikzon has been interested in problems of loss, disappearance, waste, and decay as conditioned by the everyday processes of data management, office work, and archival practices. In 2015 he participated in the IKKM school for media studies in Weimar and during 2018–19 he was a research affiliate at Yale University, invited by professor John Durham Peters. Fredrikzon’s current project is a three-year study of the history of AI, funded by the Swedish Research Council.