The conference will begin on Wednesday 7th 12.45 and end on Friday 9th 2.15pm. Registration will be open from 11am.
The Abstracts of each paper are available here:
The Full Programme is available at this link:
The drinks reception for the conference will take place on Wednesday evening, 16.30-18.30, in the main foyer, sponsored by SigmaUK, with entertainment provided by the Lancashire Wallopers.
For those of you who have prebooked, the conference dinner will take place in Damson restaurant – no.8 on this map.
Wednesday 7th September
Professor in Media Studies
Department of Media and Communication
University of Oslo
“What’s love got to do with it? Robots, sexuality, and the arts of being human”
Once the stuff of science fiction (from Metropolis to Ex Machina), the rapid development of AIs conjoined with social robots has evoked serious philosophical reflection over the past decade focusing on the realities and ethical dimensions of love and sex between humans and machines. Representative positions are marked out by David Levy’s watershed optimism that we will fall in love with and marry social robots sometime in the not too distant future (2007) vs. Kathleen Richardson’s recent arguments for banning sex robots altogether.
To evaluate these positions, I will first draw on recent work in AI and social robotics to demarcate a best (theoretically- and empirically-informed) estimation as to what an advanced AI/social robot can and cannot do. I then offer an account of human love and sexuality as informed by Platonic eros (Sullins 2012) and Sara Ruddick’s account of “complete sex” (1975). These accounts allow for utilitarian considerations of the benefits of “good sex” – but their deontological and virtue ethics dimensions foreground specific requirements for human eros and complete sex that appear to remain beyond the capabilities of even the most advanced AIs.
Specifically, human love and eros emerge as marked by ethical norms of mutuality of both desire and respect for personhood: loving itself is understood as a virtue, i.e., a capacity that is a given possibility (for most of us, at least), but one that requires cultivation and practice. In this light, social robots may well be able to offer good sex on demand – the (utilitarian) consequences of which are arguably beneficial in some contexts. At the same time, however, as lacking first-person consciousness and real emotions, such robots, however advanced, would amount to sophisticated sex dolls and zombie lovers – neither of which activate or require loving as a virtue.
Our becoming and remaining human in terms of eros and complete sex thus require our ongoing cultivation of multiple virtues, beginning with loving itself, in intimate relationship with other human beings, if we ourselves seek to avoid becoming identical with the machines that serve us. This position thus marks out a middle ground between Levy and Richardson.
Thursday 8th September
“The Internet of Bodies – digital intimacies for the future”
Today’s world of connectivity between humans and objects of all kinds – virtual and physical – is extending rapidly, as the experimental and pioneering work of pre millennium artists and creatives moves into mainstream debate, development and usage. In the next 10 years the Internet of Things aims to interlink all the “stuff” around us, everything we need to work and play with. Additionally we are starting to see the evolving linkage of our bodies directly to machine and virtual “others”, in particular through the real-time looping of all our senses, connecting to each other. Also to the robots and avatars we create or choose to form relationships with.
I call this the Internet of Bodies – physical and virtual, human and machine.
Using examples from topical curatorial practices, both my own curations and others, plus recent topical and popular references, this presentation will outline my future visions on human / machine loving – from love bots to synths, implants to biogels, teledildonics to holograms, exploring:
- the future options to take our bodies beyond the singular physical and into the virtual physical, extending and shifting our human senses into new realms, blending and connecting partners across time and space
- the burgeoning relationships between humans and robots and avatars and how this affects the concept of “love” – the most universal of all human needs
How will intimacy, passion, joy and desire be experienced? Will we be able to cherish and love each other, even if never physically in contact?
Will these advances supersede our deep relationship to the unique realtime seduction of skin-upon-skin? How can we vision forward on the positives and negatives of these evolving tech-enhanced sensualities?
Or will these shifts only have limited negative repercussions, as we acquire 21st century skills of rapidly blending parallel virtual/physical realms for joy and positive release?
Ghislaine Boddington is Co-founder and Creative Director of body>data>space and Women Shift Digital and is a Reader in Digital Immersion at the Department of Creative Professions and Digital Arts, University of Greenwich. Ghislaine has been working internationally as a thought leader and pioneer advocating the use of the entire body as a digital interaction canvas, for over 25 years. She has in-depth expertise in body responsive technologies, immersive experiences and interactive interfaces, examining shifting identity politics through the convergence of telepresence, motion, touch, sense and gesture tech, focusing on the blending of the virtual and the physical. Ghislaine has curated, commissioned and consulted on 100s of arts, education and creative industry projects worldwide including leading several multi-partner EU projects, with an aim to enable wider public access to the topical debate on human machine interfaces. She regularly guest inputs into tv/radio and press and presents into a wide range of sectors internationally, including two TEDx presentations. She is curating the Future Love theme at Nesta’s FutureFest and The Games Europe Plays exhibition series for EUNIC in 2016. http://www.bodydataspace.net/ http://www.womenshiftdigital.com/