Matthew L. Jones

James R. Barker Associate Professor of Contemporary Civilization

514 Fayerweather Hall
Phone: (212) 854-2421
Office Hours: Wednesday 11am-1pm



Ph.D. — Harvard University, 2000
M.Phil. — Cambridge University, 1995
B.A. — Harvard University, 1994

Interests and Research

Matthew L. Jones 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 (Palgrave-MacMillan, forthcoming); The Good Life in the Scientific Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2006); "Descartes's Geometry as Spiritual Exercise," Critical Inquiry, 28 (2001).