AMSGGD13 17th of April
  Girl Geek Dinner NL
   Definitely Does Compute!

Title: Robots are as alive as cyborgs are, and so what?
Speaker: Martijntje Smits
Date: Tuesday, 17th of April, 2012
Time: 18:30-22:30 Location: Lab111 (Arie Biemondstraat 111, Amsterdam)
Ticket: 15 euros (three course dinner, excluding drinks).
Buying a ticket is possible until: Saturday, 14th of April

In this talk I reflect on the impact of a new generation of ‘social robots’ on society, and in particular on the possible social discomfort they will bring about as beings between machines and organisms and between life and death. Scientists from quite different disciplines (astrology, (synthetic) biology, roboscience) are all in their own way inspired by a quest for finding or making life. Thus, they fit in a long tradition of imagination about new forms of life. For the sake of their quest, researchers transform and reduce everyday connotations of life, bracket everyday taboos and meanwhile flirt with more symbolic meanings of ‘Life’. Indeed there is a large grey area between life and death, in which all kinds of scientific and technical phenomena emerge, such as life-like (humanoid or animoid) robots, cyborgs and synthetic cells. The lab offers a fine playing ground for such ambivalent phenomena. However productive their ambiguity may be in the lab, in our social everyday world most people dislike such ambivalences. In the end, social robots should fit in our symbolic order in a proper way. So we must decide whether they are alive or not, and to what extent we should give them they subject status and even rights. We are yet only at the starting point of a social debate on this theme.

Speaker Bio:
Martijntje Smits is a senior researcher and a philosopher of technology; “Trained in engineering and philosophy, my expertise is in the social and ethical impacts of science and technology in society. Author of 'Monsterbezwering' (Taming monsters; the cultural domestication of new technology). Forthcoming: a report on the risks and challenges of social robots in society. I have been doing research and teaching in a broad range of innovation fields: sustainable technology, ethics and care, emancipation of women, plastic waste recycling, clean energy, technology assessment, genomics, nanotechnology, global human health, human enhancement and social robots. My ambition is to articulate normative questions that go with new technologies for the political agenda, and bring them to a broad audience.”

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