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03.11.2023 - 04.11.2023

14:00 Uhr - 15:00 Uhr | digital und vor Ort: Weizenbaum-Institut, Hardenbergstraße 32, 10623 Berlin

Weizenbaum's Worlds: Technological Change and Computer Criticism

On the occasion of Joseph Weizenbaum's 100th birthday, we are organizing a workshop that will focus on technological change and Weizenbaum's critique of computing in the United States and Germany between 1960 and 1990.


The workshop brings together historians, contemporary witnesses, and otherwise interested people to discuss current research and open questions. The discussions will be inspired and guided by talks on selected aspects and contexts of Weizenbaum’s life and work.

The first day (Fri, Nov 3) focuses on Weizenbaum’s time in the US from the 60s to the 80s, especially AI history, institutional history of MIT, political and technical developments of the time. This day will take place virtually on Zoom with English-speaking guests. This part of the workshop is open to an interested public.

The second day (Sat, Nov 4) will focus on (West-)Germany in the 70s and 80s. Weizenbaum had been invited as a guest to the TU Berlin for the 1979/1980 semester and ended up staying in the FRG for two years. Topics of this day: AI in the FRG, TU Berlin between science, tech and counterculture, computer science in the FRG since the 70s. This day will take place on site at the Weizenbaum Institute in Berlin presentations in German. Participation to this part of the workshop is by invitation only due to room constraints.

Each day will consist of four presentations. Each slot is 60 minutes, including 30 minutes of presentation followed by 30 minutes of open discussion.

Organisatoren: Christian Strippel (Weizenbaum-Institut) & Magnus Rust (Universität Basel)

Brief Overview of Talks


Day 1

  1. Magnus Rust & Christian Strippel: Spotlights and Stubbornness: Exploring Joseph Weizenbaum’s Worlds
  2. Zachary Loeb: “Not Merely Academic Foolery“: Mumford, Weizenbaum, and the Computer as “Authoritarian Technic”
  3. Jeff Shrager, Art Schwarz, Peggy Weil, Mark Marino, David Berry, Sarah Ciston, Anthony Hay & Peter Millican: “Reading ELIZA: Understanding Weizenbaum through his code”
  4. Patrick McCray: “I Have Pronounced Heresy” – Joseph Weizenbaum’s Politics of Pessimism

Day 2

  1. Detlef Borchers: Henry F. Sherwood und Joe Weizenbaum: Brüder nicht nur im Geiste
  2. Helen Piel: Mensch-Computer-Interaktion in den 1980er Jahren: Treffpunkt für Kognitionswissenschaft und Künstliche Intelligenz
  3. Max Stadler: Wintersemester 79/80: Computerkritik in a Dying City
  4. Martina Heßler: Sind Computer die besseren Menschen? Joseph Weizenbaums Skepsis und die Geschichte fehlerhafter Menschen

The workshop program can be downloaded here.