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Report Session for the seminar Techno-Metabolism

Anthropocene Curriculum
Campus: The Technosphere Issue
2016, Apr 14, Thu — 2016, Apr 22, Fr

Reportsession for the seminar: "Techno-Metabolism" - Rapporteur: Paul N. Edwards, Moderation: Gabrielle Hecht

In the course of its productive and consumptive functions, the technosphere transforms energy, materials, and information. It uses energy in part to transform information, while information guides the metabolism of energy.
The technosphere metabolizes not only fossil and nuclear fuels, but also solar energy, through processes including photosynthesis (agriculture), wind-, and hydropower. The technosphere also metabolizes information, ingesting various kinds of data as inputs and producing other data as outputs, often in complex cycles of feedback and control. The technosphere’s waste products—the metabolites created by its transformation of energy, materials, and information—in turn, are transforming both the biosphere and the geosphere. Microplastics, artificial chemicals, and human-made radioactive materials can be detected in the cells of organisms the world over, including in the deep oceans. Greenhouse gases and particulate aerosols are transforming the atmosphere and the climate. “Data exhaust”—the data generated by individual activity, from web searches to social media to online shopping—is being recycled far more effectively than material waste; it is being used to detect patterns, trends, and individual preferences and transforming the relationship between business and consumers, as well as civil society, worldwide. This seminar will develop creative approaches to understanding and visualizing these interplays of energy, materials, and information in the technosphere, conceived as metabolic processes.

Anthropocene Curriculum | Campus: The Technosphere Issue, 100 Years of Now 2016

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