Key Note Speakers:
- Shannon Vallor (Santa Clara University, USA)
- Yvonne Dröge Wendel (Gerrit Rietveld Academy, The Netherlands)
- Andrew Feenberg (Simon Fraser University, Canada)
- Rosi Braidotti (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
- Vanessa Evers (University of Twente, The Netherlands)
- Don Ihde (Emeritus Stony Brook, USA)
April 30, 2018: Announcement of conference schedule
On the evening of July 12th there will be a conference dinner hosted in the amazing TwentseWelle Frankenstein Exhibition
Shannon Vallor is the William J. Rewak, S.J. Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley, and a member of the executive leadership team of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics. Her research explores the philosophy and ethics of emerging science and technologies. (Read more on her personal website)
Humanizing Machines: AI and the Mediation of Human Self-Cultivation
Description: The spread of commercially viable artificial intelligence brings dizzying consequences for every sociotechnical system, from finance and transportation to healthcare and warfare. Less often discussed is the growing impact of AI on human practices of self-cultivation, those critical to the development of intellectual and moral virtues. Today, AI is weaponized in Trojan-horse attacks aimed at the root of our democratic virtues; designed to surreptitiously enter, mediate and gradually subvert the practices of public discourse by which civic virtues of trust, solidarity, charity, honesty, and justice are built and sustained. Through games and social media, AI is also being weaponized against our persons, to stall from an early age the cultivation of the virtues of patience, self-control, and intellectual and moral discernment. Yet while AI mediation can impede or denature self-cultivation practices, it also has the potential to amplify and sustain them. Humanizing AI design could provide reliable mirrors and feedback channels that foster more honest self- appraisals of our character. It could mediate newly creative practices of moral and intellectual modeling and imagination. It could reinforce more sustainable moral and intellectual habits. It could detect, signal, and perhaps even mediate fraying civic and personal relations. This talk poses the questions: is a world with humanizing machines possible? Desirable? If so, how could we build it?
Yvonne Dröge Wendel is a Dutch visual artist and head of the department of Fine Arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. She currently works on a PhD artistic research project at the University of Twente in which she examines the relational and performative abilities of things, a theme that touches on present-day questions about our relationship to the (technological) world around us. (Read more: personal website)
Think Tank: The honorable members
Since 2012 Yvonne Dröge Wendel works on the design of her DenkTank, literally a Think Tank. A large steel object, a building where individuals can consult objects about themselves. Her aim is to create a place that helps to formulate the essential questions when it comes to the future of things. This talk will discuss outcomes of the artistic research based on images of a recent video work: The honorable members, 2017.
Andrew Feenberg is Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Technology in the School of Communication, Simon Fraser University, where he directs the Applied Communication and Technology Lab. His work focuses on Critical theory and philosophy of technology. (Read more: personal website)
The Intersection of Causality and Meaning
Design lies at the intersection of causality and meaning. It can be studied in objectivistic terms,for example, with regard to the various technical relations and social influences it involves. It can also be studied phenomenologically, from the standpoint of the subjective dispositions and corresponding meanings engaged in the design process. The instrumentalization theory is a phenomenology of technological design. It describes the general structure of a technical mentality that identifies causal relations and shows how that mentality is imbricated with cultural values and meanings. The theory incorporates Insights from both traditional philosophy of technology and contemporary STS.
Rosi Braidotti is distinguished university professor and founding director of the Centre for the Humanities at Utrecht University. Her publications have consistently been placed in continental philosophy, at the intersection with social and political theory, cultural politics, gender, feminist theory and ethnicity studies. (Read more: personal website).
The Posthuman and the Critical Posthumanities
The era known as the Anthropocene, caught between the Fourth Industrial revolution and the Sixth Extinction, confronts us with paradoxes that require new ways of thinking. Crucial to the development of posthuman critical thought is the determination not to forego the analysis of enduring patterns of oppression, exclusion and structural economic inequalities. I will raise a few critical questions about the notion of the Anthropocene itself. How useful is it? How inclusive and how representative? This idea has already spawned several alternative terms, such as “Capitalocene”, “Anthrop-obscene”, but also: Plastic-ene and ‘Mis-anthropocene’. My argument is that several alternative visions are emerging from the implosion of the category of the ‘human’ and the explosion of multiple forms of inhuman, nonhuman and posthuman subject positions. Such diversification is both quantitative and qualitative: it expresses geo-political and socio-economic differences while sustaining common concerns in a post-anthropocentric world order.
Vanessa Evers is a full professor of social robotics at the University of Twente. Her research focuses on human interaction with autonomous agents such as robots or machine learning systems and cultural aspects of human computer interaction. (Read more: personal website
Socially Intelligent Robotics for Human-Robot Co-Work
Description: The classic image for people working with robots is that of a person who is focused and eager to learn how to work with or control a robot. The job of the roboticist then is primarily to avoid mistakes in accuracy of detection, manipulation, navigation, decision making, planning and so on to optimize human robot collaboration. In this talk I will argue that social norms embedded in people, robots and the context in which the robots are used make this approach obsolete. Specifically, I will address the following questions:
- How do people understand robot behaviours?
- Can a robot understand human social behaviours?
- What is needed for people and robots to collaborate effectively, safely and pleasurably?
- How can the design of robots and their behaviour improve acceptance of robots in work-environments such as airports, schools, roads, factories, remote field-sites and hospitals?
Through examples of practical deployment of interactive robots, I will explore the fundamentally social relationship people have with autonomous robots and offer essential rules and opportunities for effective human-robot collaboration.
Don Ihde is a philosopher of science and technology, and a post-phenomenologist. In 1979 he wrote what is often identified as the first North American work on philosophy of technology, Technics and Praxis. Ihde is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.