Category: News

Get to know our Fellows: Michael Friedman

Get to know our current fellows and gain an impression of their research.
In a new series of short videos, we asked them to introduce themselves, talk about their work at c:o/re, the impact of their research on society and give book recommendations.

You can now watch the latest video on our YouTube channel, in which Michael Friedman, historian of mathematics, introduces his research on materials and material practices and explains why philosophers, historians, cultural scientists and media scientists have an enormous influence on how natural scientists and material scientists think and react to their inventions:

Check out our media section or our YouTube channel to have a look at the other videos.

Invitation to talk: From print capitalism to surveillance capitalism: Mapping the Sociotechnical Imaginaries of Platform Surveillance in Japan

As part of the collaboration of c:o/re with Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Peter Mantello and Alin Olteanu will give a talk entitled “From print capitalism to surveillance capitalism: Mapping the Sociotechnical Imaginaries of Platform Surveillance in Japan” on 6 June 2024 from 1 to 3pm at the National University of Science and Technology in Bucharest, which will shed light on the interaction of technology, AI, philosophy and ethics.

The talk will be broadcasted live on Microsoft teams. Click here to attend online.

Abstract:

We argue that AI surveillance effects the transition from print capitalism to surveillance capitalism. We study this process by looking at konbini surveillance, the role of convenience stores in Japan to act as ‘middleman’ for AI platforms by collecting clients’ biometric data. Through this study, we also ponder on the general concept of technology, and argue that situated cognition theories should construe technology as the mind’s outworking itself into its next state. As such, we contribute to uprooting (post-)Cartesian Reason from philosophy of technology (Clowes 2019). The latter lead to conceptualizing technology as adjacent (see Walter, Stephan 2022), instead of intrinsic to mind, despite historically confusing the print medium with reasoning (Hartley 2012).

Print capitalism (Anderson, 1983 [2006]) refers to the literary marketplace that emerged because of the effects of printing technology to enable mass literacy through public education. In the specific circumstances of modernity, literate publics began to perceive themselves as nations: readers of printed press imagined themselves as monolingual communities that require self-governance.

Surveillance capitalism (Zuboff 2019) refers to the data collecting intrinsic to digital tech corporations, based on claiming human experience as material for translation into machine computable data. It contradicts aspirations of digital democracy. Predicting and shaping behavior, surveillance capitalism leads to behavioral futures marketplaces, exploiting digital connection as a means towards commercial ends.

We see surveillance capitalism as the fulfilment of the requirement of print capitalism to imagine closed communities, obstructing the emergence of a sense of kinship on a global level, or “biosphere consciousness” (Rifkin 2011). As digital mediascapes do not afford imagining nations, surveillance capitalism is an ideological attempt to maintain nation-states as concretized into digital datasets. A community as a dataset is something that (post)digital citizens can imagine.

We illustrate our theory by considering current manifestations of Japanese techno-nationalism as an imagined space that transcends normative understandings of ‘nation’. With Robertson (2022), we consider that Japanese techno-nationalism serves as a model for ushering digital nations, reinforcing imaginaries of nationhood through “kinship technologies” that obstruct the expansion of human empathy beyond previously imagined boundaries. We conceive Japanese techno-nationalism as a computational and algorithmic space tethered to larger digital infrastructures, i.e. platform capitalism(Murakami Wood, Monahan 2019).

If print media (newspapers) are historically responsible for modern understandings of nation, then AI surveillance plays a critical role in writing the socio-technical imaginary of Japanese techno-nationalism. To reflect on this, with a focus on the convenience store (konbini), we employ Lefebvre’s (1991 [1974]) concept of space. Like an increasing number of digitalized social spaces (workplace, transport, entertainment, hospitals, prisons), the konbini as a surveillant exchange disciplines and monetizes (mal)practices of consumption.

References

Anderson, B. 2006/1983. Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.

Clowes, R. 2019. Immaterial engagement: human agency and the affective ecology of the internet. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18, 259-279. 

Hartley, J. 2012. Digital futures for cultural and media studies. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Murakami Wood, D., Monahan, T. 2019. Editorial: Platform Surveillance. Surveillance & Society 17(1/2): 1-6.

Lefebvre, H. 1991 [1974]. The production of space. Trans. Nicholson-Smith, D. Oxford: Blakcwell.

Rifkin, J. 2011. The third industrial revolution: How lateral power is transforming energy, the economy, and the world. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Robertson, J. 2022. Imagineerism: Technology, Robots, Kinship. Perspectives from Japan. In: Bruun, M. H., Wahlberg, A., Douglas-Jones, R., Hasse, C., Hoeyer, K. Kristensen D. B., Winthereik, B. R. Eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Anthropology of Technology. Singapore: Palgrave Macmilan.

Walter, S., Stephan, A. 2022. Situated affectivity and mind shaping: Lessons from social psychology. Emotion Review 15(1): 3-16.

Zuboff, S. 2019. The age of surveillance capitalism: The fight for a human future at the new frontier of power. New York: Public Affairs Books.

Get to know our Fellows: Sarah R. Davies

Get to know our current fellows and gain an impression of their research.
In a new series of short videos, we asked them to introduce themselves, talk about their work at c:o/re, the impact of their research on society and give book recommendations.

You can now watch the latest video on our YouTube channel, in which Sarah R. Davies speaks about her research on data practices in the biosciences and explains her interest in working conditions in academia:

Check out our media section or our YouTube channel to have a look at the other videos.

c:o/re Movie Nights

We are looking forward to the collaboration with the film studio of RWTH Aachen University! As part of the lecture series of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg: Cultures of Research (c:o/re) in the summer semester “Lifelikeness” we will show two movies:

May 29: Her by Spike Jonze (2013), at 8:15 pm. As an introduction before the film, philosopher Ben Woodard (ICI Berlin) will give a lecture entitled “Ideal Locale – her and the envelope function of idealist predication”. The lecture will take place on May 29 at 3 pm at Theaterstraße 75. Please send us an email if you would like to come to the lecture: events@khk.rwth-aachen.de  

June 11:. I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK by Park Chan-wook. The film will be preceded by a short introduction and followed by a discussion moderated by the Käte Hamburger Kolleg: Cultures of Research.

By “Lifelikeness” we mean the representation and/or imitation of living beings in science and technology in fields such as robotics, synthetic biology or AI and neuromorphic computing. We ask how their increasing complexity mimics not only a fixed notion of life, but also the understanding of “life” as such.

Further information on the lecture series can be found on this page.

Lecture Series Summer 2024: Lifelikeness

Due to the great interest, the lecture series of the summer semester 2024 will once again be held on the topic of “Lifelikeness”.

Various speakers, including the sociologist Hannah Landecker (University of California, Los Angeles) and the historian of science Friedrich Steinle (TU Berlin), will be guests at the KHK c:o/re and shed light on “Lifelikeness” from different disciplinary perspectives.
Please find an overview of the dates and speakers in the program.

The lectures will take place from May 8 to July 3, 2024 every second Wednesday from 5 to 6.30 pm in presence and online.
An exception is the lecture by Hannah Landecker, which she will give as part of the interdisciplinary conference “Politics of the Machines” on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Super C- Generali Saal.

If you would like to attend the lectures, please send a short email to events@khk.rwth-aachen.de.

Program: PoM Conference in Aachen

Programmable biosensors, life-like robotics and other artificial models – the present and the future are dominated by new phenomena in the life sciences. How can the challenges, opportunities and uncertainties associated with these advances be addressed?

The transdisciplinary conference series “PoM – Politics of the Machines”, which will take place from April 22 to 25, 2024 at the Super C at RWTH Aachen University (Templergraben 57, 52062 Aachen) under the title “Lifelikeness & beyond”, will explore this question. At the interface of science and art, the conference aims to stimulate reflection on the comprehensive connections that shape our perception of the world.

International researchers and practitioners from various fields of science, technology and art will come together to discuss socio-cultural concepts of the future, the interaction between human and machine and ideas of the living and non-living in different formats.


The main program from 22 to 25 April will take place in Aachen in the Super C of the RWTH Aachen University and in the LOGOI Institute.

Super C: Templergraben 57, 52062 Aachen
LOGOI Institute: Jakobstraße 25a, 52064 Aachen

You can register with this form.
Further information on the schedule can be found in this program.
You can find a longer version with all abstracts in this program.


On Thursday, April 25, Dr. Jürgen Kippenhan will give a talk on “Artificial intelligence and the sensory structures of human speech, thought and action” as part of the “POM Conference” at LOGOI, Jakobstraße 25a, 52064 Aachen.


As part of the conference, the choreographic centre PACT Zollverein in Essen will realize the accompanying programme ‘life.like’ on 26 and 27 April 2024, which consists of six artistic positions in the form of performance, installation, discourse and sound.


‘Lifelikeness & beyond’ is the fourth edition of the “Politics of the Machines” conference series, founded by Laura Beloff (Aalto University Helsinki) and Morten Søndergaard (Aalborg University Denmark) and organized in collaboration with RWTH Aachen University, LOGOI Institute for Philosophy and Discourse and PACT Zollverein in Essen.

Theodore von Kármán Fellowship to Professor Reiner Grundman

photo: Reiner Grundmann

Reiner Grundmann, Professor of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at the University of Nottingham, has been awarded the Theodore von Kármán Fellowship by RWTH Aachen University.

Professor Holger Hoos (Chair for Methodology of Artificial Intelligence), Professor Frank Piller (Chair of the Institute for Technology and Innovation Management) and KHK c:o/re Director Professor Stefan Böschen jointly applied for the fellowship. The fellowship thus strengthens interdisciplinary cooperation in the field of artificial intelligence (AI).

The fellowship enables Reiner Grundmann to spend seven weeks at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg: Cultures of Research (c:o/re) at RWTH Aachen University, where he will work on a project entitled “Communication Unbound: The Discourse of Artificial Intelligence” from April to May 2024. It investigates the discourse on forms of AI based on large language models and the challenges they pose to society. His current work focuses on the relation between knowledge and decision making, with a special interest in the role and nature of expertise in contemporary societies. To present the outcomes of this fellowship, Reiner Grundmann will give a public university lecture on May 15, 2024, 5-6.30 pm, at KHK c:o/re, Theaterstr. 75.

RWTH Kármán-Fellowships are funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research
(BMBF) and the Ministry of Culture and Science of the German State of North Rhine
Westphalia (MKW) under the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and the
Länder.

Objects of Research: Sarah R. Davies

For today’s edition of the “Objects of Research” series, c:o/re Senior Fellow Sarah R. Davies gives an insight into her desk set up. As a professor of Technosciences, Materiality, and Digital Cultures, her work focuses on the intersections between science, technology, and society, with a particular focus on digital tools and spaces.

“I guess many academics would share some varient of this image: a careful arrangement of computer equipment, coffee, notepads, pens, and the other detritus that lives on (my) desk.

For me it’s important that the technical equipment is shown in conjunction with the paper notebook and pens. I’m fussy about all of these things – it’s distracting when my computer set-up isn’t what I’m used to, and I need to use very specific pens from a particular store – but ultimately my thinking lives in the interactions between them.

My colleagues and I are working on an autoethnographic study of knowledge production, and notice that (our) creative research work often emerges as we move notes and ideas from paper to computer (and back again).”

Would you like to find out more about our Objects of Research series at c:o/re? Then take a look at the pictures by Benjamin Peters, Andoni Ibarra, Hadeel Naeem, Alin Olteanu, Hans Ekkehard Plesser, Ana María Guzmán, Andrei Korbut, Erica Onnis, Phillip H. Roth, Bart Penders and Dawid Kasprowicz.

Objects of Research: Dawid Kasprowicz

Presenting the next chapter of the “Objects of Research” series, c:o/re Postdoc and Fellow Program Coordinator, Dr. Dawid Kasprowicz, whose main research fields include theory and history of embodiment, phenomenology, human-robot-Interaction, philosophy of computer simulation, joins us with a picture of his fundamental object for his research practice:

“This is a notebook my Mom gave me. She had it as a kind of leftover from a shopping tour and she thought that it might be of use for my work. And of course, she was right. And as you know, research always starts with a good question that attracts attention.”

Would you like to find out more about our Objects of Research series at c:o/re? Then take a look at the pictures by Benjamin Peters, Andoni Ibarra, Hadeel Naeem, Alin Olteanu, Hans Ekkehard Plesser, Ana María Guzmán, Andrei Korbut, Erica Onnis, Phillip H. Roth and Bart Penders.

Get to know our Fellows: Guillaume Yon

Get to know our current fellows and gain an impression of their research.
In a new series of short videos, we asked them to introduce themselves, talk about their work at c:o/re, the impact of their research on society and give book recommendations.

You can now watch the sixth video of Dr. Guillaume Yon, historian of economics, on our YouTube channel:

Check out our media section or our YouTube channel to have a look at the other videos.