Project Description

What’s to come next?

New technologies are emerging by the hour and are set to alter everyday life at a yet unknown speed. Today paradigmatic changes in communication technologies occur within decades or even a few years. Before that we are talking of hundreds if not thousands of years from the invention of symbols to books to telephones. Such inventions profoundly shape how humans think, act and perceive. It is thus a philosophical task to understand human-machine relations. What is called human has never been pure human. Starting from the colonies of bacteria in our bodies until digital technologies that alter our perception of time and the forms we communicate: We always have already been somewhat posthuman. With technologies growing closer to the body this becomes more and more visible.

In my research, I follow the evolution of human self-understanding from neuroscience through technology design to cinematic and artistic narratives. My research is foregrounded by phenomenological thought, especially Edmund Husserl, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and contemporary thinkers such as Evan Thompson. Observing a tendency to construe intelligence both human and artificial as disembodied and calculating my aim is give a critique of this reductive move. Philosophy currently answers these questions from a poststructuralist perspective (as in Katherine N. Hayles, Brian Massumi or Mark B.N. Hansen). My aim is to introduce a concept of embodied experience into the discussion, which does not affirm a strong human subject or falls into the dualistic traps of traditional humanism. To do so I combine conceptual analyses of neuroscientific images, developments in AI and Robotics as well as phenomenological analyses of cinematic narratives and the experiences engineered in performance and digital art.

research field emergent technologies

Ongoing research project:

The philosophical project NEURAL NETS – The Impact of Neuroscientific Images on Concepts of Intelligence in Technology and Cultural Narratives specifies and discusses a paradigmatic shift in human self-understanding due to neuroscientific methods and results. As peeks into the inner workings of our brains, neuroscientific images are fascinating far beyond their use in science and medicine. They seem to suggest a reductive concept of intelligence, that focuses merely on the brain, rather than its embodiment and embeddedness in a socio-cultural ecology. Understanding imaging methods and their impact on new technologies will clarify how modern concepts of human and artificial intelligence are construed.

Outside of neurosciences, these images inevitably receive new functions and meanings. Implicitly or explicitly, they constitute a specific concept of human and artificial intelligence, originally unintended by neurosciences and influential on how we construe technology and organize social life. Rather than criticizing neuroscientific concepts of intelligence, the project pursues to reveal the impact of neuroscientific methods of imaging on extra-neuroscientific discussions and concepts of intelligence.

To a great amount, philosophical discussions criticize the bearing new technologies have on what is considered as intelligence. However, the influence of neuroscientific images on both new technologies and current concepts of intelligence has received little attention. The project will specify biases, re-interpretations, and re-contextualisation of the neuroscientific images once appearing in other contexts, such as digital art and cinema. It will show how these contingent concepts of intelligence shape visions of the future and have a strong impact on new technology design such as AI and autonomous systems, and eventually on the norms and values governing highly technologized societies.