The Manchurian Automaton

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Artificial Intelligence, robotics, Orientalism, totalitarianism, brainwashing, and the counter-culture: all these themes, and more, were deftly woven together by the historian of science Simon Schaffer in a memorable lecture, ‘The Manchurian Automaton’.

Prof. Schaffer’s lecture was delivered at the conference Brainwash: History, Cinema and the Psy Professions, which was held at the Birkbeck Cinema on 3-4 July 2015. The conference was organised by the Hidden Persuaders Project in partnership with the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image.

The Manchurian Automaton, Part I:

The Manchurian Automaton, Part II:

Simon Schaffer is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. In addition to his numerous publications on the history of the physical sciences and the history of automata, he has presented documentary programmes on television, including Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams (2013) for BBC Four.


These videos were filmed by the Derek Jarman Lab, and edited by Ian Magor.