“Only the Initiates Will Have the Secrets Revealed”

Tune in for the next talk in our Lecture Series “Cultures of Research – Digitalization of Research“. On Wednesday, January 26th, Alexandre Hocquet (Fellow c:o/re Aachen, Archives Henri Poincaré) will talk about the Politics and Materialities of Open Science.

The talk focuses on software in science and its diversity of entanglements with openness. Software has been “eating” the world, and science is no exception. From Excel to complex “big” scientific instruments, via Photoshop or molecular modelling software suites, the vast majority of software used in science is not open, and a vast majority has nothing to do with computer science. When software is open, it is very often naively represented as a solution to all issues in science, especially reproducibility. Yet, even open software is full of epistemic issues, from governance to consistency, and the consequences of its influence on the rest of open science are often misunderstood, especially regarding licensing policies.

c:o/re panel @ EASST 2022

The c:o/re Team will be chairing a panel at the EASST conference “Politics of Technoscientific Futures” in Madrid, July 6 to 9, 2022. Our panel “Making Media Futures” focuses on the role of different media in making and disseminating scientific imaginaries of the future and on their variations according to their interactions with different communities and contexts. If you want to contribute to our panel, send us an abstract with your ideas through the conference website form. The full call for abstracts can be found here. The deadline is February 1st, 2022. Looking forward to seeing you in Madrid!

New Year – New Fellows

René von Schomberg

This week, we welcomed René von Schomberg and Catharina Landström at RWTH Aachen university. Like Andoni Ibarra, who arrived at c:o/re in December, René von Schomberg is working on responsible innovation in research with a focus on the value of ‘openness’.René von Schomberg is a Guest Professor at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, and counselor to the European Commission. In a hybrid lunch talk, he gave us a glimpse into his research program for the coming months.

Catharina Landström

STS scholar Catharina Landström, Associate Professor with a focus on environmental studies at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, is also touching on the subject of open science. After years of intensive field work with a focus on water systems challenges, she is happy to delve into critical text analysis for the coming six month. She will explore how experts argue in writing and how they convey to environmental decision makers the validity, relevance and reliability of knowledge in the face of computer simulation modelling.

Andoni Ibarra

This introduction of the new projects refreshed the academic debate among fellows, as new overlaps unfurled. Upcoming events are meant to further explore these junctions.

Technophany: Local Futures (Special Issue #1)

We are very pleased to announce the online first launch of the first special issue of the Journal Technophany, edited by sound artist Hugo Esquinca and our team member Ana María Guzmán Olmos. Technophany is a journal published by the Research Network for Philosophy and Technology and is dedicated to the thinking of science and technology in their historical and philosophical dimensions. This special issue considers Yuk Hui’s concept of cosmotechnics as starting point to reflect on particular Latin American technologies, technical thought and philosophy of technology, as well as the question of what does it mean to speak of local technologies in general.

The issue follows the format online first and, in this spirit, the articles will be released biweekly, thus giving space for debate and conversations around each singular article. Since the editors think that it is not possible to speak of local techniques and thought without listening to the local scholarship, the issue is bilingual so that each author could feel comfortable writing in the language in which they are used to contribute to knowledge.

The aim of this publication is to expand the discussion and the community of debate around Latin American technical thought and techniques. In this sense, we started a conversation with philosopher of technology Yuk Hui and the editors, where we expand on the possibility of thinking with the notion “cosmotechnics” across different cosmologies and particular contexts by bringing to the front the different problems and topics opened up by the articles.

In parallel to the open dialogue with Hui, a series of conversations in Berlin’s Cashmere Radio will be broadcasted live and online. The conversations will kick off with a dialogue between the editors (Hugo and Ana) and Fernando Wirtz, author of the paper “Cosmotechnics as Method: Beyond Geoculture” on January 17th (tbc).

We’ll be updating on upcoming events and radio conversations here and on the Networks social media.

You can read the Issue here:


Towards responsible innovations in nanotechnology

We are very happy to welcome Professor Andoni Ibarra to c:o/re. Andoni Ibarra is Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of the Basque Country and last week his fellowship at our Center started. His research focuses on questions and conditions of governance, particularly in regard to responsible innovation. In the coming twelve months, he will be working, in close cooperation with RWTH’s Human Technology Center (HumTec), on the project “Open anticipatory governance of innovation. Opportunities and barriers for a radical responsible culture of research in emerging technologies”. Our colleague, PhD researcher Stefan John of the Living Labs Incubator will support this research program. Stefan graduated in Science and Technology Studies at the Technical University Munich in 2019. He gave us a glimpse into the basics of this project and where his interest in the topic stems from. Here is what he told us:

Stefan, why does the project “Open anticipatory governance of innovation” interest you in particular?

I became interested in the topic of governance and technology while working on my Master thesis on a Living Lab/Testbed at Munich Airport. As technology co-determines our daily lives, I am interested in how it gets created and by whom. The question of social responsibility and sustainability are important yet difficult to ask and assess. Hence I am delighted to support the research of this framework.

What is the rationale of Andoni Ibarra’s project and what do you expect as an outcome?

The starting point of this project is a specific perspective on research: it promotes an open anticipatory understanding of responsible research, according to which the collective problematization of the future states of a system is a basic condition for the consideration of possible alternatives for action. The goal is to develop a governance framework that contributes to the implementation and assessment of responsible anticipatory practices in research and innovation, which we consider with a focus on nanotechnologies.

And how are you going to test and implement such a governance framework?

By drawing from practical experience of nanotechnologists. In close collaboration with practisioners, we will analyze the opportunities and barriers/limits involved in the operationalization of open anticipatory governance. This will allow us to reflect on if and how collective deliberations on sociotechnical futures influence actual practices in the field of nanotechnology.

What is your task in this project and what are the next steps for you, Stefan?

As a researcher at RWTH Aachen University, I will help build a network of nanotechnologists at the university. We already had a meeting with various experts in this field which was very inspiring. My tasks at the moment consist in assessing the relevant literature and reaching out to researchers with practical experience in open anticipatory governance. The objective is to create a network of experts that will help us advance the state-of-the-art in the emerging technology of nanoscience and its problematization.

Lecture Series

The public c:o/re lectures series Cultures of Research – Digitalization of Research takes off in December. Here you can find up to date information about our lecture series, bringing leading scholars on matters of science and technology studies, coming from a broad range of perspectives.

Please note that the lecture will be recorded.

01.12.21Joffrey Becker (Fellow c:o/re Aachen, Collège de France): Humans, Machines and the Anthropology of Cybernetic Practices
08.12.21Franck Varenne (Université Rouen Normandie): Computer Simulations Seen from the Standpoint of Symbols
15.12.21Bernd Carsten Stahl (Monfort University Leicester): Artificial Intelligence for a Better Future. An Ecosystem Perspective on the Ethics of AI and Emerging Digital Technologies
12.01.22Johannes Lenhard (TU Kaiserslautern): Traveling with TARDIS. Prediction, Parameterization, and Ontology in Molecular Modeling and Simulation
19.01.22Markus Pantsar (Fellow c:o/re Aachen, University of Helsinki): Developing Artificial Human-Like Numerical Cognition (and Why)
26.01.22Alexandre Hocquet (Fellow c:o/re Aachen, Archives Henri Poincaré): “Only the Initiates Will Have the Secrets Revealed”. The Politics and Materialities of Open Science
02.02.22Jobst Landgrebe (Founder Cognotekt Köln): Certifiable ‘Artificial Intelligence’ for Reliable Systems

Officially started with a view

Yesterday, on November 10th, our Käte Hamburger Kolleg officially welcomed this year’s academic fellows at RWTH Aachen University. Against the atmospheric backdrop of the Aachen city view from building Super C, members of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities met with our international fellows for a first get-together and personal exchange. c:o/re’s directors Gabriele Gramelsberger and Stefan Böschen introduced the Center and the individual researchers, and they took the chance to thank those responsible at RWTH Aachen University for their strong support in the — often very challenging – process of kicking-off the first International Center for Advanced Studies at this university. Vice-Rector for Research and Structure, Prof. Dr. Ing. Matthias Wessling, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Prof. Dr Christine Roll gave two warm and welcoming addresses. They did not only invite the fellows to work and contemplate on their research during their stay in Aachen, but also encouraged them to challenge RWTH Aachen University and the status quo of research infrastructure in Germany to push innovate, answers to yet unsolved questions and pose new questions. We would like to thank all participants to the event for the positive spirit they brought and, also, for the attention they paid to properly respecting the policies meant to restrict the spread of COVID-19.

We are now on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter. Our colleagues Ana Guzmán and Phillip Roth keep you updated on our activities

First Fellows arrived in Aachen

We are excited to host our first c:o/re fellows in Aachen. They form a international group of distinguished researchers, representing a wide variety of scholarly approaches to the study of science, technology and society. Based at our research center for one year, they are enriching the diverse academic environment of RWTH Aachen University, each developing their own project, about which you can read briefly below.

Kick-off meeting on Oct. 5th. From left to rigth: Alexandre Hocquet, Markus Pantsar, Erica Onnis, Amanda Boetzkes, Ana Bazzan, Steve Fuller, Frederik Stjernfelt and Joffrey Becker.

Ana Bazzan is a Professor of Computer Science at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil. Her research focuses on multiagent systems, in particular on agent-based modeling and simulation, and multiagent learning for the transportation domain. In her research project, she combines techniques from network theory with agent-based modelling and simulation to investigate complex human behavior in past and present societies.

The relation between humans and so-called intelligent systems, and the social changes associated to the design of such systems – be they ontological, interactional or societal – lies at the heart of Joffrey Becker’s research project. He is a Social Anthropologist and Research Associate at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale at the Collège de France, Paris.

Amanda Boetzkes, Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Guelph, Canada, focuses on a different relation: that of humans and environment. During her stay in Aachen, she is working on her project that considers contemporary art’s mediation of climate change and its production of ecological perception in the case of the Greenland Ice Sheet area and its inhabitants.

The “Homo Futura: its History and Philosophy” is one of two book projects that Steve Fuller is working on during his stay in Aachen. The Professor of the Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology at the University of Warwick, England, will be exploring the philosophical and historical background of two very different approaches to grasp humanity’s collective self-understanding: transhumanism and posthumanism.

Alexandre Hocquet is a Professor in the History of Science at the Université de Lorraine, France. His research focuses on the impact that software has on the production of knowledge in computational chemistry. How does software – not only its code, but its design, its usage and licensing among other aspects – transform research? This project adresses “software as the elephant in the room”.

Erica Onnis, Philosopher from the University of Turin, Italy, devotes her work to the understanding and clarification of the concept of emergence. By suggesting a revision of the theory of causation and clarifying the scope of notion of qualitative novelty she is going to develop a taxonomy of emergent phenomena in complex biological systems.

Markus Pantsar is a Senior Researcher in Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Helsinki, Finland. His research revolves around philosophy of mathematics and connected areas, such as AI, logic and complexity. The aim of his project is to contribute to the feasibility of building AI agents with human like-intelligence by taking a computational and cognitive approach.

Frederik Stjernfelt is Professor of Semiotics, History of Ideas and Theory of Science at Aalborg University, Denmark. As the title suggests, his research spans over a broad area of the humanities and social sciences, from meaning and cognition to philosophy of science and free speech. Among other achievements, he is a leading scholar on Charles S. Peirce. His project consists in develpoing a perspectivist philosophical anthropology, as required in the context of humans’ extension onto digital and other technological media.

Interview with Directors of c:o/re

Prof. Gabriele Gramelsberger and Prof. Stefan Böschen, the directors of the Käte Hamburger Kolleg: Cultures of Research (c:o/re) at RWTH Aachen university, talk about the transformation of research practice in light of societal challenges, and their goals and visions for the newly founded Center for Advanced Studies. Read more on the homepage of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), that is funding the center