Agora lecture (14 Aug 2013) – Bruce Sterling: Augmented Ubiquity

May 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

BrucesterlingBruce Sterling is a science fiction author from the United States of America. He has published several award-winning novels since the 1970s, including Schismatrix (1985) that is set in the posthuman Shaper/Mechanist universe. This novel anticipated many important themes of the current posthuman and new materialist turn in humanities during the 2010s. In addition to that, Sterling was the editor of the Mirrorshades (1986) anthology that defined the cyberpunk movement in science fiction. He also started the steampunk genre together with William Gibson by publishing The Difference Engine (1990). He is also a notable adademic scholar, working as a Professor at the European Graduate School, teaching in the areas of media and design. His many research projects have crossed the border between science and art in important ways. They include the Dead Media Project, the Viridian Design Movement and Embrace the Decay. The topic of Sterling’s agora lecture will be “Augmented Ubiquity”.


Agora Lecture (13 Aug. 2013) – Timo Airaksinen: Robot Desires

March 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

This lecture on “Robot Desires” discusses the place of needs and desires in the robotic world, asking what do we really want from our robots? Unlike cyborgs, it is unlikely that robots themselves would ever have desires. Cyborgs have desires because humans have desires. The lecture distinguishes between a broad and a specialised notion of cyborgs, so that the former incorporates parts of our techno-environment, as in the example of a modern airport. What happens to human desires in that kind of an environment? We also need to ask whether a perfect cyborg is without desires. Are desires marks of human imperfection, as many philosophies and religions have argued? If we answer in the affirmative, then in this sense, robots are perfect.Timo Airaksinen

Timo Airaksinen (Ph.D. 1975, University of Turku) has been a full Professor of Philosophy, University of Helsinki, since 1981. He has published 350 articles and 20 books on a wide variety of topics, including the philosophy of technology, philosophical psychology, epistemology, the history of philosophy, and the philosophy of literature. He has visited many universities around the world, including for longer periods in Pittsburgh,Warsaw, Tokyo, Hamburg, and Cambridge, UK. Many of his research projects have been funded by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. His current project, also funded by Tekes, is “The Calculus of Desire”.

Agora Lecture (15 Aug. 2013) – Mia Consalvo: Avatars, Players, Platforms and Participation

February 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

This talk draws on multiple studies of players of videogames to explore how and why people play games and participate in a broader player culture. It challenges dominant assumptions and research showing how players identify with their avatars and questions how we conceptualize our gaming relationships. It also explores how platforms shape player expectations as well as play styles and norms; and how those platforms can encourage as well as discourage participation. Finally the talk explores how players think about ethical dilemmas in games and how they resist as well as sometimes accept styles of play that differ from their personal moral compasses.

ConsalvoImageMia Consalvo is Canada Research Chair in Game Studies and Design at Concordia University in Montreal. She is the author of Cheating: Gaining Advantage of Videogames and is co-editor of the Handbook of Internet Studies She is currently writing a book about Japan’s influence on the videogame industry and game culture and co-writing another on the history and culture of the casual MMOG Faunasphere. Mia has published her work in Critical Studies in Media Communication, Games & Culture, Game Studies, Convergence, and many other journals. She has presented her work at professional as well as academic conferences including regular presentations at the Game Developers Conference. She is the President of the Digital Games Research Association, and has held positions at MIT, Ohio University, Chubu University in Japan and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Agora Lecture (13 Aug. 2013) – Kevin Warwick: The Disappearing Human-Machine Divide

January 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

In this presentation Kevin Warwick will look at 1. The latest results with implant technology (linking human brains with computers),  2. Culturing biological neurons and putting them in a robot body (robots with biological brains) and 3. Practical Turing Test results (can you tell the difference between a human and a machine from interactive communication?). New experimental data will be presented in each of these areas and participants will be able to see for themselves if they can tell the difference, in a Turing sense, between human and machine dialogue. A brief look will be taken at the future and what all this might mean.hand

Kevin Warwick is Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, England, where he carries out research into artificial intelligence, control and robotics. He was born in Coventry and took his first degree at Aston University, followed by a PhD and research post at Imperial College London. He subsequently held positions at Oxford, Newcastle and Warwick Universities before being offered the Chair at Reading. As well as publishing over 500 research papers Kevin has been awarded higher doctorates (DSc) both by Imperial College and the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague and has received Honorary Doctorates from 6 Universities. He has appeared in the Guiness Book of Records for his research on several occasions and is perhaps best known for his implant self-experimentation, linking his own nervous system with a computer network.

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