Artefacts for generations growing up with robots

I’ve had this open in one of my tabs for ages with the intention of writing something about it here but I’ve sort of run out of time on that, so…

Here’s an interesting student project (I’d be delighted to have students like this!!) It’s a sort of deliberately controversial speculative design/ prototyping exercise to provoke thought and conversation about what it might mean to live with actually existing robots (not sci-fi androids).

The creators are: Stephan Bogner, Phillipp Schmitt and Jonas Voigt.

It’s worth a look…

RAISING ROBOTIC NATIVES

RaisingRoboticNatives-All.jpg

Artefacts for generations growing up with robots

Why do future visions of robotics incite discomfort in our generation? Could robots truly render us obsolete or is it our fear of losing control? And are these fears conditioned or instinctive?

Raising Robotic Natives explores interactions between children and robots that could raise them as the first generation of robotic natives.

Just like digital natives grow up in the digital world, robotic natives are born into an environment that is adapting to robots. As a result of unbiased, childlike enthusiasm, they are socialized with the technology early on. Through constant robotic interactions and formalized education, robotic natives get to think differently about robots than we do. It will be their responsibility to shape the future of robotics, not ours—besides we’re robotic immigrants, after all.

See the full details of the project here.

Reblog> Postcapitalist Futures: Talk at Bristol

Via Mark Purcell

The University of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences will host the 6th annual Bassett lecture on Tuesday 3rd May 2016 at 4pm.This year’s speaker is Nick Srnicek, who will be presenting under the title ‘Postcapitalist Futures’ (details below).

The lecture will take place in the Peel Lecture Theatre, School of Geographical Sciences, University Road, Bristol, BS8 1SS

Abstract:
What does the future of work hold? This talk will examine the current capitalist conjuncture, outlining the changing technological and economic conditions of work. The social democratic era of good jobs, it will be shown, is over – and the left must grapple with this shift. In place of full employment, we should be arguing for full unemployment. This talk will try and show both why this is necessary, and how this is possible.

Biography

Nick Srnicek is the co-author, with Alex Williams, of both Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work (Verso, 2015) & “#ACCELERATE MANIFESTO for an Accelerationist Politics” (2013). He is the co-editor of The Speculative Turn (Re.press, 2011 with Levi Bryant and Graham Harman) and is currently working on a new book entitled Postcapitalist Technologies (Polity, forthcoming).

The Bassett Lecture:

The Bassett Lecture is held every year in honour of Dr. Keith Bassett, a critical geographer and long-time Senior Lecturer in the School of Geographical Sciences. Though formally retired, Dr. Bassett continues to write, teach, and contribute to the intellectual life of the School and University. The lecture series recognizes Dr. Bassett’s work and contributions in the fields of social and geographical theory, critical geographies of political economy, urbanism, social movements and social justice, political ecology, and critical socio-legal studies.

All Welcome!

No booking required, for enquiries contact: tom.keating [at] bristol.ac.uk

Gillian Rose on the shared visual imagination of drones / smart cities – great post

Gillian Rose has blogged about Derek Gregory’s recent lecture(s?) at Cambridge, which sounded interesting and provocative. It’s a great blogpost – I encourage people to read it.

I hadn’t thought of the similarities of visual imagination, or (systems of) visuality, across and between (military) drones and ‘smart cities’, but Gillian’s points make sense.

I was struck especially by this great point:

advocates of both smart cities and drone warfare share an absence of historical narrative so that their technologies can be seen as new, modern, better and more desirable.  (Which of course conveniently ignores various histories of failure, imprecision, rejection and unreliability.)

This seems especially important, and is a tactic/ approach shared by the kinds of computing R&D that I’ve studied and written about… it’s that lack of historical narrative ~ the ‘any-when’-ness, that facilitates some of the ways in which computing researchers have employed particular kinds of visual grammar to render particular kinds of possible future (in the) present.

Anyway – have a read

CFP> Where Next? Historical Geographies of the Future (via @CritGeog )

This looks really interesting, and if I were going to the RGS conference I’d submit something to be considered –>

Where Next? Historical Geographies of the Future

Jake Hodder (Nottingham) and Mike Heffernan (Nottingham), sponsored by the Historical Geography Research Group

Call for Papers – RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London, 30 August – 2 September 2016

How historical subjects have imagined their futures is crucial to understanding their pasts, and invariably reflects a wide range of geographical as well as historical imaginations. Likewise, many key areas of geographical enquiry (such as development, environment, geopolitics, imperialism, political economy) draw significance in part on their ability to lay claim to ideas of the future, implicitly or otherwise. Yet the role played by these collective speculations is seldom directly addressed and their contingent nature makes it difficult to reconstruct their full rhetorical strength.

Until recently, therefore, historical accounts of ‘the future’ have been predominantly shaped by ideas of the ‘distant future’. Distant in both the sense of time, ambiguously blending science and fiction (the future of ray guns and spaceships), and distant in the sense of ideals, realised or lost (the future of utopias and dystopias); but what of our other sense of the future? What has been the role played by the idea of the immediate ‘knowable future’? A future which attends more closely to possibility and prediction than to fantasy and utopia.

2016 marks a pertinent time to reflect on the relevance of these questions for geographers, as historians have also recently done (Engerman 2012; Rosenberg and Harding 2005), and ask where next? This year marks the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia in Latin; and two related, and much anticipated, exhibitions are currently running at The Louvre in Paris (24 September 2015 – 4 January 2016) and Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels (11 September 2015 – 24 January 2016) entitled A Brief History of the Future, based on the 2006 international bestseller by Jacques Attali of the same name. This session invites papers from across the discipline which examine ‘the future’ in its varied manifestations (political, personal, and technological) and may wish to engage some of the following questions:

• What are, and what have been, the geographies of the future – what geographical ideas have shaped future consciousness and from where?
• How have different historical moments or events fostered speculation of other futures?
• What is the relationship between experience and expectation, and how have ideas of the future shaped everyday lives?
• How have conceptions of the future intersected with political, scientific, economic or cultural ideas, or with other areas of geographical interest?
• What are the historical geographies of prediction and other ‘future-making’ practices – surveys, statistics, social trends, forecasting?

Please send your name, title and abstract (300 words) to both conveners by Friday, February 12th.

Reblog> Space, Power and the Commons: new book in Place, Space and Politics series

Clive Barnett on a new book out edited by Samuel Kirwan, Leila Dawney & Julian Brigstocke… all smart people so well worth a look!

Space, Power and the Commons: new book in Place, Space and Politics series

9781138841680The latest book in the Routledge Research in Place, Space and Politics series is now published (technically it is a 2016 book) – Space, Power and the Commons: The struggle for alternative futures is edited by Sam Kirwan, Leila Dawney and Julian Brigstocke, and is associated with the Authority Research Network. It’s an important addition to the literature on the theme of ‘the commons’, not least because it draws together discussions of high theory on this topic (Hardt, Nancy, Ranciere, etc) with empirical analyses of practices of ‘commoning’.

This is the second title to appear in the Place, Space and Politics series, after the collection on Urban Refugees. There are more titles in the pipeline. More details on the series, including guidelines for submitting proposals, can be found here and here.

Projecting a genuine future for the living? On Latour & Stiegler comments after the Paris attacks

I was quite surprised at how quickly the translation of the short interview with Bernard Stiegler in le Monde spread on twitter, which is not usual for my posts…

Anyway, I have been struck by a similarity in ethos between the comments made by Bernard Stiegler in his interview and the commentary provided by Bruno Latour in an op-ed (translated by Jane Kuntz) for Reporterre, entitled “The Other State of Urgency” [via Installing (Social) Order].

It is an ethos of calling for the casting-off of a short-termism or ‘death-wish’ (pace Latour) focussed on (inadequately mitigating) destruction—destruction of states, of peoples and of our planet—towards affirming what Stiegler calls a ‘genuine’ future and what Latour sees as a taking of fate into our our hands. One might see it as a loosely vitalist ethos: an affirmation of life and its pluri-potency.

It seems to me significant that both Latour and Stiegler frame the issue in relation to the anthropocene and the COP21 talks being held in Paris. For both of them, the affirmation of a ‘genuine’ future entails combining stances towards ecological, economic, political and scientific atmospheres. Such an affirmation of a sustainable path towards a future of the living is set in contra-distinction to a rhetoric of war, which both thinkers reject in their own ways. To submit to war, in the manner of the French government, is to submit to a short-term imperative to (re)act, but to act for whom and to what ends is a question both Latour and Stiegler find troubling. It is analogous to government via catastrophism – such forms of reaction are already presumed in the mode of ‘normal’ operation: the ‘everywhere war’ and ‘state of exception’ is the new ‘normal’.

Who could argue against an affirmation of hope? I certainly would not. Yet, while there is plenty of diagnosis of the ‘state of urgency’, we are left to ponder: what is to be done?

I don’t think I buy Stiegler’s eurocentric call for policy, it is too easy to see how–even with the best of intentions–this would slip into the kind of technocratic malaise that has buggered up the Mediterranean EU countries. Yet, at least Stiegler attempts to offer strategies – and I think the wider outlining of a political-economics of contribution and of a kind of ‘neganthropy‘, while somewhat grandiloquent, remain inspiring. I would be very curious to see what Latour would suggest in order to “invent demonstrations more innovative than yet another march from Place de la République to Place de la Nation.”

It is, of course, excruciatingly hard to offer strategies for action – as Zizek likes to quip: we can see why it has been suggested that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than an end to the ideological milieu of capitalism. Working for a ‘genuine’ future hurts, but as both Latour and Stiegler demonstrate: it remains the task at hand.

Reblog> Submit your papers! Philosophy and the future

This looks really good!

Submit your papers! Philosophy and the future

Chiasma, an open-access philosophy journal, is now accepting submissions for their third issues. The deadline is December 15, 2015.

Read the full CFP below.

Chiasma Issue 3: Philosophy and The Future

Philosophy, being untimely, is inexorably embedded in time, dedicated to the future. For Chiasma’s third issue, we will look for essays engaging with the future – as an object for philosophy, as a hermeneutic of philosophy, and also in terms of the future of philosophy – from an interdisciplinary background.

As Nietzsche writes in Untimely Meditations, philosophy is always “acting counter to our time, and thereby acting on our time, and, let us hope, to the benefit of a time to come.” Essays should focus on, first and foremost, the “time to come,” but also the various ways in which this “to come” affects the now. The future is not merely an ever-receding horizon, but also an immanent object of thought that is itself conditioned by past and present. We invite submissions that explore these and other modes of thinking the future.

Some possible topics include:

  • Philosophies of becoming and event: Badiou, Deleuze, Malabou, Nietzsche, Whitehead
  • Futures of the human: transhumanism, posthumanism, hyperobjects, extinction
  • Ecology and eco-criticism
  • Rhetorics of the future: futurity in capitalist rhetoric, critique of the future as figure, the cultural role of futurity (Marx, Edelman, Zizek)
  • Messianism and non-messianism: Benjamin, Butler, Derrida, Laruelle
  • Utopianism and utopian studies
  • Speculative fiction, science fiction, Meillassoux’s extro-science fiction, future histories
  • Missed futures and lost causes
  • Contemporary divergent futures: intersectionality in critical theory, ontological difference in ethnography and ethnology
  • Revolution and new forms of social action: Occupy, Zapatista, etc.
  • Future of the university: corporatization of the university, crisis of the humanities (Eileen Joy, Henry A. Giroux), alternative academic programs and modes (European Graduate School, New School, Global Centre)

 

Essays should be 5,000-7,000 words long and formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style. Please send papers with abstracts of no more than 150 words tochiasma.asiteforthought@gmail.com by December 15.

Reblog> New paper: Anticipatory Logics of the Global Smart City Imaginary by @jimmerricks

Over on the programmable city website there’s news of a new paper by Jim Merricks White on the anticipatory logics of smart cities… I have previous here so it’ll be an interesting read!

New paper: Anticipatory Logics of the Global Smart City Imaginary

Jim White’s paper, ‘Anticipatory Logics of the Global Smart City Imaginary’, is available for download on the Social Science Research Network as Programmable City Working Paper 8.

Abstract

The smart city encompasses a broad range of technological innovations which might be applied to any city for a broad range of reasons. In this article, I make a distinction between local efforts to effect the urban landscape, and a global smart city imaginary which those efforts draw upon and help sustain. While attention has been given to the malleability of the smart city concept at this global scale, there remains little effort to interrogate the way that the future is used to sanction specific solutions. Through a critical engagement with smart city marketing materials, industry documents and consultancy reports, I explore how the future is recruited, rearranged and represented as a rationalisation for technological intervention in the present. This is done across three recurring crises: massive demographic shifts and subsequent resource pressure; global climate change; and the conflicting demands of fiscal austerity and the desire of many cities to attract foreign direct investment and highly-skilled workers. In revealing how crises are pre-empted, precautioned and prepared for, I argue that the smart city imaginary normalises a style and scale of response deemed appropriate under liberal capitalism.

Keywords: smart cities, the urban age, anticipation, risk

[pdf download]

Reblog> Why Africa is the new home of science fiction

Interesting stuff detailed by the inimitable James Bridle. Lots to explore here…

Why Africa is the new home of science fiction

Wordsmack, a speculative fiction publisher dedicated to digital platforms, is the latest project to join the African SF boom

Lauren Beukes

Anthology series Something Wicked features the likes of Lauren Beukes, above, in its archives. Photograph: Ulrich Knoblauch

A few years ago, I got very excited about Afrocyberpunk, a blog by Jonathan Dotse out of Accra, Ghana. The stories he posted suggested a strange and an exciting future for science fiction, proposing “not the science fiction of your grandfather or the Foundation of your Asimov” but “the dystopian gloom of failed states, the iron rule of corruption, cartels snaking cold fingers into the upper echelons of government, and hi-tech gangs of disillusioned youth”. While Dotse’s own novel has yet to see the light of day, he and others have been active in a number of ventures, online and off, to make this vision a reality.

One of these is Jungle Jim, an African pulp fiction magazine, which, despite only being available as a beautifully designed print edition, provides a great jumping-off point for exploring multiple genres. Jungle Jim’s writers include Nnedi Okorafor, whose story “The Go-Slow”, published at Tor.com, blends magical fantasy into downtown Lagos traffic jams; Diriye Osman, who chronicles the lives of African LGBT kids in Somalia and London in stories such as “Earthling”; and Dzekashu MacViban, editor of Cameroon’s Bakwa magazine. Another is Something Wicked, South Africa’s first SF and horror magazine turned anthology series whose archives include short works by Sarah Lotz and Lauren Beukes, two South African authors who have found fame with dystopian future-fiction works in The Three and Moxyland respectively.

The most recent addition to the club is Wordsmack, a speculative fiction publisher dedicated to digital platforms. Publishing across Kindle, Kobo and iBooks, Wordsmack’s titles include young adult fantasy and techno-thrillers. A recent event, A Future Jozi, brought together three of their authors – Abi Godsell, Mico Pisanti, and Jason Werbeloff – to discuss why “Johannesburg is the best city in which to base the stories of our sci-fi rebels, our mutant karp”. Plenty of writers seem to agree with them.