OpenITU: The Good, the Bad and the Robots - Blurring the lines between the living and technology.

Join us for a free and public debate on one of the most urging issues facing IT professionals and society at large these years.

New technological systems may change the way we perceive, think, and act in our immediate surroundings. But what happens when biology and technology naturally coevolve and intertwine? How do we understand human-machine relationships within a cultural context and what will the future of wearable sensor technology bring?

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The event is hosted by Anders Høeg Nissen of Harddisken DR P1. 

Themes and Presenters

“The co-evolution between living systems and evolving technological cultures = Art "

Ken Rinaldo, contemporary artist and professor at the College of Arts & Sciences, The Ohio State University.
Artist/inventor Ken Rinaldo looks to natural living systems, mimesis and communication to reveal the underlying coevolved wisdom of the biological world as it intertwines and coevolves with our technological world. He postulates that the symbiotic junctures where machine, animal, plant, bacteria, and humans meet are where our future as a species exist. Through interactive robotic installations he shows how we are becoming symbiont, and his works pioneer interspecies communication where biology and technology naturally intertwine. By using coevolution as a model Rinaldo proposes that we can design technologies that are more sensitive to other living things and direct technology for the good of all living species we share the planet with. Some of the most fruitful research in this regards, is taking place in the contemporary arts at the intersection with advanced technologies.

Ken Rinaldo

Ken Rinaldo’s work interrogates the fuzzy boundaries where hybrids arise. He focuses on trans-species communication and researching methods to understand animal, insect, and bacterial cultures as models for emergent machine intelligences, as they interact, self organize, and co-inhabit the earth. Ken Rinaldo is internationally recognized for his interactive installations blurring the boundaries between the organic and inorganic and speaking to the co-evolution between living and evolving technological cultures.

“Angels and devils secretly communicate with your brain through your body”

Thomas Pederson, associate professor and manager of the Pervasive Interaction Technology Lab at the IT University of Copenhagen.
Increasingly powerful wearable sensor technology and new ways of conveying information (beyond the visual displays on our smartphones) point to a potential future in 10-15 years where digital personal devices are able to bypass our attentional system and talk directly to our brain through our senses. In a positive scenario, this would enable us to go on focusing on whatever we are doing without getting disturbed by our devices, thanks to an unconsciously performed human-computer interaction dialogue (e.g. a sub-threshold stimuli making you take the stairs instead of the elevators, because you have set the system to unconsciously promote exercise). Great! In a darker scenario, such systems could be hacked and whole populations could be unconsciously persuaded to perform actions they otherwise wouldn’t. Perhaps not so great.

Thomas Pederson

Thomas Pederson is interested in designing systems that change the way we perceive, think, and act in our immediate surroundings based on wearable technologies interfacing to human perception and cognition. He believes that human perception, cognition, and action capabilities are defining factors for future wearable systems that talk to us in increasingly subtle ways through our peripheral attention.

“The artificial and the animated. Cultural imagination in human-robot interaction”

Gunhild Borggren, associate Professor and co-founder and manager of ROCA (Robot Culture and Aesthetics) research network at Copenhagen University.
Imagination and aesthetics provide a crucial dimension in the field of robotics in a global perspective, but how do we understand “nature” in relation to technology within the cultural context of Japan? Gunhild looks into examples of Japanese robotics and the impact of the artificial and animated with references to specific Japanese culture, which may explain the heavily promoted humanoid robots in Japan. She will also introduce a number of Japanese contemporary artists who sidestep this techno-nationalist notion of robots and explore them as "relational artifacts” that enhance communication and interaction and explain how cultural diversity is connected to technology.

Gunhild Borggreen

Gunhild Borggren conducts research in Art History and Visual Culture at Department of Arts and Cultural Studies.  She is interested in artistic interpretations of the social function of robots, as well as the imaginaries about robots created through film, literature, comics, and other cultural products. She investigates imaginations about other cultures that are connected to technology, such as techno-orientalism or techno-nationalism in the relationship between Japan and the West.

Panel debate with all three speakers:

About OpenITU

OpenITU is an initiative by the IT University of Copenhagen opening the university to the public, with topics in ICT publicly debated followed by a Friday afternoon beer. We aim to create a relaxed platform where researchers and audience are on equal footing and conversations on ICT topics can be easily followed.

All OpenITU events are free of charge and open to the public.

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