Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Alessandro Dividus | Università di Pisa | Italy 


September 16th 2022 | 10.00 – 11.30
Panel #6 | “Contaminations
Room G.126 | Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milan, Largo Gemelli 1

The Coming of Machines: Dystopian Visions of Society from Samuel Butler to George Dyson 

In 1863 Samuel Butler published an article entitled “Darwin among the Machines”. This work, which is included and expanded in his famous novel Erewhon, raises the possibility that machines may undergo a constant evolution over time just as humans do and may even supplant the human race as the dominant species in the future. This idea, which inspired philosophers and scientists such as Deleuze, Guattari and Bateson, just to mention a few, is taken up by the historian and writer George Dyson who, in 1997, published the novel Darwin Among the Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence. In this book, following the path laid out by Butler, Dyson adopts the idea of machine evolution by applying it to modern technology and in particular to the internet, which, according to his narritave, becomes a sentient being.
Therefore, the purpose of this work is to highlight the line of continuity between two authors so distant in time who nevertheless share the same dystopian idea of the future, i.e. a future where the assumptions of the natural sciences developed by man are so replicable that they can also be applied to objects created. 

Alessandro Dividus holds a PhD in Political Sciences at the University of Genoa and he is actually a PhD student in Political Sciences at the University of Pisa. His research project concerns Sir Henry Jones, one of the last leaders of British Idealism, and his idea of citizenship and State. His research areas include History of Political Thought, Political Philosophy, Epistemology and Ethics, with a special focus on British Idealism. He has published several articles and essays, and a monograph Politica e Coscienza. Il Liberalismo Sociale di T. H. Green by GUP (Genova University Press), and has attended several international conferences. He is a member of AISDP (Associazione Italiana Storici delle Dottrine Politiche), SIFP (Società Italiana di Filosofia Politica) and BISG (British Idealism Specialist Group).