Category: News

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.

Objects of Research: Bart Penders

Here comes the new edition of our “Objects of Research” series. c:o/re Senior Fellow Dr. Bart Penders provides an insight into his research work and introduces an important tool for this:

“As part of the work I do at KHK c:/ore, as well as extending beyond that, I collect empirical data. In my case, that data consists of records of interviews with scientists and others. Those records can be notes, but they can also be integral recordings of the conversations.

Relying on technology for the production of data is what scientists do on a daily basis. With that comes a healthy level of paranoia around that technology. Calibrating measurement instruments, measurement triangulation, and comparisons to earlier and future records all help us to alleviate that paranoia. I am not immune and my coping mechanism has been, for many years, to take a spare recording device with me.

This is that spare, my backup, and thereby the materialisation of how to deal with moderate levels of technological paranoia. It is not actually a formal voice recorder, but an old digital music player I have had for 15 years, the Creative Zen Vision M. It has an excellent microphone, abundant storage capacity (30 gigabytes) and, quite importantly, no remote access options. That last part is quite important to me, because it ensures that the recording cannot enter the ‘cloud’ and be accessed by anyone but me. Technologically, it is outdated. It no longer serves its original purpose: I never listen to music on it. Instead, it has donned a new mantle as a research tool.”

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 and Phillip H. Roth.

Objects of Research: Phillip H. Roth

For this edition of the “Objects of Research” series, c:o/re postdoc and event coordinator Dr. Phillip H. Roth shows a picture of his favorite research tool. He is currently working on a book/habilitation project that will be a media history of preprints in science.

“I use mechanical pencils (like the one in the photo) to highlight, annotate, question, clarify, or reference things I read in books. This helps me digest the arguments, ideas, and discourses I deal with in my historical and sociological research. I also have software for annotating and organizing PDFs on my iPad as well as a proper notebook for excerpting and writing down ideas. However, I’ve found that the best way for me to connect my reading practices with my thoughts is through the corporeal employment of a pencil on the physical pages of a book.”

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 and Erica Onnis.

Inaugurating the collaboration of c:o/re and Ritsumeikan University on Emotionalized Artificial Intelligence

We are delighted to be commencing a collaboration on Emotionalized Artificial Intelligence with colleagues at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. Professor Peter Mantello (Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University) leads a project funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, on which c:o/re is a partner, that over the coming three years will compare attitudes in Japan and in Germany on Emotionalized Artificial Intelligence in the workspace. This is explorative pathway contributes to the c:o/re outlook on Varieties of Science.

Being hosted as a short-term fellow at c:o/re, on February 15th, Professor Peter Mantello inaugurated this collaboration by presenting the rationale and framework of this project.

Prof. Peter Mantello presenting the project “Emotional AI in the Japanese and German Workplace: Exploring Cultural Diversity in AI Ethics”.
Prof. Mantello talks about the questions that philosophy has to tackle on Emotionalized AI.

Symposium: Critical Perspectives on the Metascience Reform Movement

The Käte Hambuger Kolleg: Cultures of Research (c:o/re) is co-sponsoring the Critical Perspectives on the Metascience Reform Movement Symposium by the Center for Open Science, taking place virtually on March 7, 2024, from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm EST.

Metascience is often defined as the scientific investigation of science itself with the aim to improve science. This ‘improving’ part of metascience has been called a reform movement. While the intention to improve science is generally laudable, metascience and the associated movement(s) are not without their critics. The metascience reform movement has for instance, been characterized as, among other things, neoliberal, positivistic, atheoretical, technological, moralizing, bureaucratic, homogenizing, mechanistic, quantitative, psychological (psychologizing), social, civilizing, bullying, exclusive, coercive, activist, and normative. Some of those critical perspectives will be presented and discussed in this symposium.

KHK c:o/re Fellow Dr. Bart Penders will also contribute with a talk on “Shamed Into Good Science”. Symposium: Critical Perspectives on the Metascience Reform Movement

For additional information, including the program schedule and free registration, please visit the symposium’s webpage.

Get to know our Fellows: Bart Penders

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 fifth video of Dr. Bart Penders, PhD in Science and Technology Studies and Associate Professor in ‘Biomedicine and Society’ at Maastricht University, here:

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

Objects of Research: Erica Onnis

Today we continue our „Objects of Research“ series with a picture by c:o/re Alumni Fellow Dr. Erica Onnis, whose research focuses on the nature of emergent phenomena, and the relation between the notion of emergence and those of reduction, novelty, complexity, and causation.

“When asked about the fundamental object for my reaserch practice, I immediately thought of my computer, which seemed the obvious answer given that I read, study, and write on it most of the time.

Upon further reflection, however, I realized that on my computer, I just manage the initial and final phases of my research, namely gathering information and studying on the one hand, and writing papers on the other.

Yet, between these two phases, there is a crucial intermediate step that truly embodied the essence of research, for me: the reworking, systematization, organization, and re-elaboration of what I have read and studied, as well as the formulation of new ideas and hypothesis. These processes never occur on the computer but always on paper.

Therefore, the essential objects for my research are notebooks, sticky notes, notepads, pens, and pencils.”

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 and Andrei Korbut.

Objects of Research: Andrei Korbut

New edition of our “Objects of Research” series: Find out what c:o/re Junior Fellow Andrei Korbut‘s most important research object is. In his studies Andrei focuses on human–machine communication, applying ethnomethodology and conversation analysis to reveal the detailed ways in which humans organize their interactions with computers.

“There is a joke about which faculty is cheaper for the university. Mathematics is very cheap because all they need is just pencils and erasers. But philosophy is even cheaper because they don’t even need erasers.

My favorite and indispensable object is the rOtring 600 mechanical pencil. It shows that social science is closer to mathematics than to philosophy. Of course, social scientists often need more than pencil and eraser: they have to collect and process data from the real world. But this processing is greatly facilitated by the ability to write and erase your observations.

In my work, I deal with the transcripts of human-machine communication, and I use the rOtring 600, which has a built-in eraser, a lot. It’s useful not only because of the eraser, but also because it’s designed to stay on the table and not break, even in very demanding circumstances like the train journey. And it gives me the feeling that I am making something tangible with it, because it reminds me of engineers or designers producing blueprints for objects and machines.”

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 and Ana María Guzmán.

c:o/re Newsletter – Special Edition

As many exciting things have happened and will happen in the past and coming months, we would like to quickly update you with this special edition of the c:o/re newsletter.

We hope you enjoy it!


K. Jon Barwise Prize for
Gabriele Gramelsberger

Special honour for her research work: c:o/re director Gabriele Gramelsberger has been awarded the 2023 K. Jon Barwise Prize by the American Philosophical Association (APA).

The K. Jon Barwise Prize honours members of the APA who have made significant and sustained contributions to the areas of philosophy and computer science over the course of their careers. Gabriele Gramelsberger’s research focuses on the philosophy and epistemology of computer science. She has conducted extensive studies on modelling, simulation and machine learning in climate science and molecular biology.

From 16 to 17 May 2024, the KHK c:o/re will host a celebration workshop on “Epistemology of Arithmetic” by Gabriele Gramelsberger (Barwise Prize) and Markus Pantsar (book publication “Numerical Cognition and the Epistemology of Arithmetic” at Cambridge University Press in May 2024). Further information will be available here shortly.


acatech membership for
Stefan Böschen

End of the year 2023, c:o/re director Stefan Böschen was appointed as a new member of acatech, the National Academy of Science and Engineering.

The acatech membership recognises outstanding scientific accomplishments of the elected scientist, which contribute to acatech’s mission. acatech as a working academy aims at science-based advice to policymakers and society thereby linking technological developments to aspects of Transformation and Society. Areas of interest are energy and resources, mobility and logistics, life sciences and health, digital transformation, boundary conditions for innovation and transformation of the business location.


Art installation at c:o/re:
Unfelt Threshold

We are delighted to present the first art installation at KHK c:o/re.

The installation is a cooperation between Japanese artist Aoi Suwa and c:o/re Senior Fellow Prof. Masahiko Hara. On Tuesday, 30 January, the collaboration opened with a live art installation and conversation on Fluctonomous Emergence.

You are cordially invited to visit the installation until 22 February 2024. Please register by sending an email to events@khk.rwth-aachen.de. The installation is located in the back of our lecture hall at our building on Theaterstraße 75.


Research stay in New York

From 11 March to 5 April 2024, our postdoc Phillip H. Roth will be a visiting research fellow at NYU’s College of Arts & Science. His stay is hosted by Lisa Gitelman, a leading media historian working on American print culture, technologies of inscription, and the emergence of new media.

Phillip will be advancing his project on communication formats in late-modern science, specifically on the history of preprints in particle physics.


PoM in Aachen

From 22 to 26 April 2024, the experimental conference Politics of the Machines: Lifelikeness & beyond will take place in Aachen, which seeks to bring together researchers and practitioners from a wide range of fields across the sciences, technology and the arts to develop imaginaries for possibilities that are still to be realized and new ideas of what the contingency of life is.

As part of the conference, a cooperation with the Performing Arts Centre PACT Zollverein in Essen is planned for Friday, 26 April, and Saturday, 27 April 2024. With ›life.like‹, PACT invites you to an experiential, installative, and discursive journey that questions and transcends the boundaries between machines, objects, and biological systems. What spheres exist beyond the dividing lines of the living and non-living? How do data and unknown techno-social interactions influence decisions and our perception of the living? What relationships, realms of possibility, and collaborations emerge between technologies and artistic practices?

We look forward to seeing you there!

Get to know our fellows: Andrei Korbut

Get to know our current fellows and gain an impression of their research.
In a new series of short interviews, 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.

1. Please introduce yourself.

I’m Andrei Korbut. I’m a sociologist studying human-computer interaction.

2. What is your research about?

My research is about how a particular kind of humanoid robot — it’s called Pepper — has become a popular research tool in robotics labs around the world.
I want to understand what properties of the robot make it useful for studying human-robot interaction, and how it is embedded in and helps to produce the configurations of epistemic practices, industrial interests, and academic politics specific to the field of robotics. To do this, I am tracing Pepper’s career from the production line to publication in an academic journal.

3. How do you see your research impact society?

I see the impact of my research as twofold. First, I hope that the results will influence policy decisions about science. There is a lot of talk about AI regulation nowadays, and as robotics is closely related to AI (although they are different fields), policymakers need more real-world knowledge about how robotics is organised to make their decisions more knowledge-based. And second, it would be great if my research could make humanoid robots less “opaque” to ordinary people. There is a lot of hype around humanoid robots today, based on developers’ desire to make them look more capable and autonomous than they really are. I think my research can show that these machines are not something supernatural and approaching humans in their abilities, but only exist because the large amount of human labour and knowledge is constantly embedded in them.

4. What does a research day at c:o/re look like for you?

I would even say that there is not one day, but two different days at c:o/re. The first is very quiet: I just go into the office and work at my desk, making notes, analysing data, reading, with some breaks for food and occasional conversations with colleagues. The second is more lively, full of discussions, meeting new people, and visiting very exciting places like real labs at RWTH. I like both days equally because they are beneficial for my research, although in different ways.

5. What does Cultures of Research mean to you?

For me c:o/re is a community of very talented and interested people where I can freely discuss my findings and plans and get new insights after each of such discussions. Small group of scholars working in the same field, as in c:o/re, is an excellent habitat for nourishing your ideas.

6. What book have you read recently that you would recommend?

It is a book not from my main area of interest, but I really enjoyed it. (I find it important to read outside my field from time to time.) It’s Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World by Marcia Bjornerud. This is a fascinating introduction to the way geologists think of time, providing some basic knowledge about the history of the discipline and the structure and evolution of the Earth. More importantly for me, the book teaches how to see the traces of time in the objects around us. The book is aimed at people like me who are not very familiar with geology, so I found it really interesting, not least because Bjornerud presents geology through her own personal experience as a field researcher. Also, the illustrations by Haley Hagerman are masterful.