Matthew L. Jones

James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization

Columbia University

Heyman Center Fellow, 2018 - 2019

Project Title: “Great Exploitations: Data Mining, Legal Modernization, and the NSA”

Matthew L. Jones is James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization at Columbia University. He specializes in the history of science and technology, focused on early modern Europe and on recent information technologies. He chairs the Committee on the Core and Contemporary Civilization. A Guggenheim Fellow for 2012-13 and a Mellon New Directions fellow for 2012-15, he is researching Data Mining: The Critique of Artificial Reason, 1963-2005, a historical and ethnographic account of “big data,” its relation to statistics and machine learning, and its growth as a fundamental new form of technical expertise in business and scientific research. Based on research funded by the National Science Foundation, he is finishing a philosophical, technical and labor history of calculating machines from Pascal to Babbage. His publications include: “Improvement for Profit: Calculating Machines and the Prehistory of Intellectual Property,” in Mario Biagioli and Jessica Riskin, eds., Nature Engaged: Science in Practice from the Renaissance to the Present (forthcoming); The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution (2006); and "Descartes's Geometry as Spiritual Exercise," Critical Inquiry (2001).