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Date: November 26, 2012

Technology Historian George Dyson Presents UVic 50th Anniversary President's Distinguished Lecture

On Dec. 4, internationally acclaimed historian, philosopher and author George Dyson will present the first in a series of President’s Distinguished Lectures featuring world-renowned authors and thinkers.

The lectures, honouring the University of Victoria’s 50th anniversary, will be combined with special convocation ceremonies where each scholar will receive an honorary degree. Upcoming speakers in the series are poet and author Anne Michaels on Feb. 18, 2013 and eco-feminist and scholar Dr. Vandana Shiva on March 27, 2013.

Dyson is a highly regarded author and leading historian of technology whose latest book, Turing’s Cathedral, has been called “a wonderful, even visionary” account of the early years of computers. He attributes his influential ideas on the symbiosis and co-evolution of humans, animals and machines to lessons learned as a youth, exploring BC’s coastal waters. After arriving in Vancouver from New Jersey in 1970 at the age of 17, Dyson served as deckhand aboard the sailing vessel D’Sonoqua for two years, delivering cargo to small communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

In this President’s Distinguished Lecture, Dyson traces the genesis of his thinking about the intersections of nature, history and technology to these early explorations of the BC coast and its long and continuing history of providing free range to vessels, wildlife and ideas. He links this experience to perspectives discussed in his wide-ranging and acclaimed works, including Baidarka: The Kayak (1986); Darwin Among The Machines: The Evolution Of Global Intelligence (1997); and the forthcoming Analogia.

“If you spend time alone in the wilderness, you get very attuned to living things,” Dyson says. “I learned to spot the trails left by life. When I looked at the digital universe, I saw the tracks of organisms coming to life. I eventually came out of the Canadian rainforest to study this stuff because it was as wild as anything in the woods.” (Wired Magazine, March 2012)

Dyson has been a featured presenter at TED (Technology Entertainment Design) and was the lead speaker at the opening of the Stephen Hawking Centre at the Perimeter Institute in 2011.

The lecture starts at 7 p.m. on Dec. 4 in the University Centre Farquhar Auditorium. Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance. Contact the UVic Ticket Centre at http://auditorium.uvic.ca/tickets/ or 250-721-8480. Everyone is welcome.

More information: http://www.uvic.ca/anniversary/presidentslectures/index.php

Note: George Dyson is available for advance telephone interviews on Wednesday, Nov. 28 or by special arrangement. He is also available in person in Victoria on Dec. 4 between 9 and 9:45 a.m.

Media contacts:

Joy Davis (Ceremonies and Special Events) at 250-721-7632 or joydavis@uvic.ca
Melanie Groves (UVic Communications) at 250-472-4357 or mgroves@uvic.ca


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UVic is celebrating its 50th anniversary from Sept. 2012 to June 2013. Visit www.uvic.ca/anniversary for more info.

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