We are pleased to announce that our Science Guest of Honor for Norwescon 36 will be Dr. Edward Tenner!
Edward Tenner was originally a specialist in modern German history, earning a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and being chosen for membership in the Harvard Society of Fellows. After a research associate position at the University of Chicago helping his former teacher William H. McNeill with the bibliography of the future bestseller Plagues and Peoples on disease in history, he chose scientific publishing instead of teaching. He was a science editor and an executive editor at Princeton University Press from 1975 to 1991, where he published everything from mathematical monographs to bird field guides, and best selling popular science books including Richard Feynman’s QED.
When he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1991 he decided to become a full-time writer, and the resulting book, Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences has been one of the most widely discussed and translated books in the history of technology, going beyond cornucopianism and neo-Luddism to consider innovation’s real paradoxes, from invasive species to the disappointing results of productivity gains, which remain with us today. In Our Own Devices: How Technology Remakes Humanity, he showed how invention changes human behavior and vice versa, looking at everyday objects from running shoes to keyboards and eyeglasses in a new way. Professor Howard Segal, reviewing the book in Nature, called the author “a worthy successor to such luminaries as business philosopher Peter Drucker,
social critic Lewis Mumford and historian Lynn White in connecting technology’s past, present and future.”
Edward Tenner has spoken at leading colleges and professional, corporate, and government meetings, including Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Caltech, USNA Annapolis (Highlands Forum), the Air Force Research Laboratory, Microsoft and Intel Research, IDEO, Design for User Experience (DUX), AAAS, the American Physical Society, the American Society of Safety Engineers, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Warburg Pincus, In-Q-Tel, and TED. He has been a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers. He is now a senior research associate of the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center and an affiliated scholar of Princeton’s Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies.
His current research is on the paradoxically positive consequences of negative events, technological and otherwise.