[SIGCIS-Members] Essay on Silicon Valley and behaviorism

Fenwick Mckelvey fenwick.mckelvey at concordia.ca
Mon Jan 4 10:44:17 PST 2021

Great piece and I really appreciate the question as well as the discussion. I'd welcome reading more discussion of this piece in the listserv.

I'm interested in how we might tease out the legacy of behavioural economics, systems and bounded rationality. Can we draw a distinction between the work of Simon versus the behaviour economics even if there reach similar conclusions?

I would also note a distinction between Skinner's behaviorism and behavioralism in the social sciences. The latter has debts to Simon but also Lazarsfeld and later Pool profiled in Dr. Lepore's new book on Simulmatics. In my own research, Pool and Licklider won their ~1968 be bid for Project Cambridge as a behavioralist project, so it would be interesting when to date its passage given it still attracted major American support.

These are just some notes, but I think it's a great discussion and a worthwhile project as a sort of genealogy of what models of the mind ensure in Computer Science. I have some early work on this question in Political Science I'd be happy to discuss offline with fellow travelers.

Take care and thanks again for sharing.

Be good

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From: Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> on behalf of Anne Fitzpatrick <acbfitzpatrick at gmail.com>
Sent: Monday, January 4, 2021 1:10:15 PM
To: Shreeharsh Kelkar <shreeharsh at gmail.com>
Cc: members at sigcis.org <members at sigcis.org>
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Essay on Silicon Valley and behaviorism


Thanks for sharing your very interesting and thoughtful piece!  Glad to see other social scientists researching Big Tech and trying to make sense of where it is headed and understand those who work for that industry. In a similar vein, I'd like to share the attached with the SIGCIS community; it's a book chapter I had published in November on the future of High Performance Computing, written as part of a philosophical homage to Professor Joe Pitt at Virginia Tech's Philosophy Dept.

I don't have much of a public persona but I work for the Department of Defense as a Tech Director by day, and serve as an adjunct Prof at Virginia Tech's Science & Technology Studies Department in my off hours, where I wrote this chapter.  Apologies that this version isn't machine readable but the electronic version hasn't come out yet.  Happy New Year to All.


On Mon, Jan 4, 2021 at 11:01 AM Shreeharsh Kelkar <shreeharsh at gmail.com<mailto:shreeharsh at gmail.com>> wrote:
Dear all,

I wanted to share a new piece I wrote on whether Silicon Valley engineers are behaviorists<https://medium.com/swlh/are-surveillance-capitalists-behaviorists-does-it-matter-no-and-maybe-a7327265eead> that might be of interest to people on this list. I argue that they are not--though I'm agnostic on whether calling them behaviorists is tactically useful. Given the expertise of everyone on this list, I'd love to know if you have any feedback/thoughts/reactions.

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season!
Shreeharsh Kelkar
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