MA in Gender Studies, Central European University, Budapest.
My dissertation, entitled “Cyberdreams of the Information Age: Learning with Machines in the Cold War United States and Soviet Union” examines how computers were made to cultivate, harness, and manage human minds during the Cold War. Despite divergent political, social, and ideological contexts, both the US and the USSR came to view the human mind as a crucial resource for their economies, and the computer as an irreplaceable tool in the optimization of human mental capital. I focus on the first American and Soviet special teaching computers that were developed to automate instruction and cultivate efficient learning minds in 1959 – 1976.
I use these computers as an opportunity to explore the ways in which engineers, computer scientists, psychologists, and educators co-operated to define human learning, make it accessible to computers, and turn it into a controllable process. The prospect of building technology that could govern the acquisition of new knowledge generated debates about the character of learning and human creativity and whether computers could be made to understand and control the ways our minds learn. It also prompted novel discourse about the place of techno-scientific knowledge and education in an era of mass automation in the Soviet Union and the US. Paying close attention to the theories of the learning mind that shaped Soviet and American approaches to pedagogical computers, I track how the developers of this technology built their politically and ideologically divergent beliefs about the human mind, creativity, learning, and computation into their teaching machines.
My project was supported by the Charles Babbage Institute and the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, Medicine. I was also awarded funding by the IEEE History Center and the National Academy of Education.
Key words: Historical intersections of mind sciences and computing, computer modeling of human learning, Artifical Intelligence; U.S. history, Soviet history, the Cold War.
To learn more about my research, see the report I have written for the Consortium for the History of Science and Technology at the end of the fellowship year.
History of science and technology; Soviet history; US-Soviet 20th-century history; history of computing, information, and data; history of mind and brain sciences; bioethics; history of medicine.