Institute for Teaching and Learning

Michael Chorost

Topic:  Cochlear Implant Research Presentation for Graduate Students and Faculty

Date:  September 19, 2013
Time:  4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
EJ Thomas Hall

Topic:  Transformation: When the Only Way Out is Through 

Date:  September 19, 2013
Time:  7:30 pm
EJ Thomas Hall

Please visit  www.uaevents.com for full details

Biography

Michael Chorost is an up-and-coming technology theorist with an unusual perspective: in 2001 he went completely deaf and had a computer implanted in his head to let him hear again. This transformative experience inspired his first book, Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human. He wrote about how mastering his new ear, a cochlear implant, enabled him to reach his full creative potential as a human being. The critics agreed; in 2006, Rebuilt won the PEN/USA Book Award for creative Nonfiction.

When Chorost went deaf he was already well-prepared to write a book about the experience. He earned his BA at Brown University and studied computer programming, Renaissance literature, and cultural theory on the way to his PhD. He doesn’t draw sharp lines between programming, science, writing, and art; to him, these are all profoundly creative human endeavors. This freewheeling approach infuses his forthcoming book, World Wide Mind: The Coming Integration of Humans and Machines. In this book he ups the ante, proposing that humanity can incorporate the computer into its collective soul in a way that enhances communities and creative work instead of diminishing them.

Dr. Chorost has written for Wired, The Washington Post, Technology Review, and The Scientist, among others. He wrote the screenplay for a TV special on brain implants titled The 22nd Century, which aired on PBS in January 2007. He sits on external advisory boards for neuroscience research at Northwestern and Brown. He has been interviewed by numerous periodicals including The New York Times, The Independent, and SonntagZeitung, and has been a guest on NPR shows including “Weekend

Edition” and Michael Krasny’s “Forum.” He has given over 80 talks at institutions such as Google, MIT, Stanford, Brown, Duke, and the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco. He has also appeared on the television shows BBC Breakfast TV, Eyewitness News, and C-SPAN’s BookTV.

Dr. Chorost’s superb speaking skills have been honed by 15 years of teaching at Duke, the University of Texas-Austin, and the University of San Francisco. Students have often rated him as being the best teacher of their undergraduate career. His speaking style is thoughtful, engaging, and wryly funny. Despite his total deafness, his cochlear implants let him use the phone easily and take questions from audiences with skill and flair.

In his speeches, Dr. Chorost addresses the following questions:

  • How will future technologies change the body? Implants and prosthetics are already changing the lives of people with disabilities; will they ever be useful for people without disabilities?
  • Is electronic communication alienating people from each other? How can people relate to each other more richly and productively in a technological age?
  • How do prosthetics and implants such as cochlear implants actually work? How are they integrated with the body? How do users adapt to such radical changes in the human sensorium?
  • What new technologies make it conceptually thinkable – not yet practicable, but thinkable – to create technologies that can know what a brain is perceiving, remembering, and feeling?


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