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Johan Fredrikzon

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About me

Johan Fredrikzon (M.Sc. Computer Science, Ph.D. History of Ideas), is a postdoc in the History of technology and media. As of fall 2022 he is a visiting scholar at University of California, Berkeley. His current project, The Making of Human Mistakes in the Era of Artificial Intelligence, 1940–1990 (financed by the Swedish Research Council) is a history of AI from the perspective of errors and mistakes. This work investigates how the notion of what constitutes a mistake has influenced what has counted as intelligence in humans and machines, respectively.

His monograph Cycles of data: Environment, Population, Administration, and the Cultural Techniques of Early Digitalization (Mediehistoriskt arkiv 2021), demonstrates how the origins of our data-driven present can be traced back to changes in fundamental operations such as modeling, linking, and reuse in the 1960s and 70s. Already half a century ago, the downplaying of human labor in digital work, imaginaries of data as a "raw" resource, the management of data as "capital", and an algorithmic understanding of the natural environment were articulated by big tech of the day, i.e. the agencies of the welfare state , insurance companies, and research institutions in the natural sciences.

In addition to errors, in his research, Fredrikzon has published on the processes of erasure, waste, and decay at the intersection of digital media and material culture. For a general audience, he has recently written a book chapter on death and writing (Norstedts 2023) and one on nuclear radiation in an anthology on death and dying in the history of ideas (Appell 2022).

Fredrikzon has taught on the history of future studies, the history of radiation as a problem of communication, key concepts in Foucault, postcolonial theory, and the history of technological critique. In the summer of 2015 Fredrikzon was a visitor at the IKKM center for the study of cultural techniques at Bauhaus Universität, Weimar and in 2018–19 he was a research affiliate at Film & Media Studies, Yale University.

To contact Johan Fredrikzon, please use: or +1 (341) 333-8232.

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Publication list