Cyborg Futures Workshop: Animal Life and Social Robots

While the fields of artificial intelligence and robots are propelled by both fiction and science, scholars in these fields rarely meet. This interdisciplinary workshop brought together a diverse, international group of thinkers from science, the social sciences, and the humanities to discuss robot futures. What are the limits of the machine-animal analogy? How is the animal not like the machine, and vice versa? Should robots be extended rights? Are dreams of the second machine age and an investment in the technological future compatible with animal environments? How do robots get gendered and/or racialized in fiction and in the industry? How do the robot and the animal differently write the autobiography of the human? How do social robots affect the understanding of what it is to be human?

And, of course, where does science meet fiction?

Supported by Saint Mary’s University, including: the Vice President, Academic and Research; the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research; the Dean of Arts; the Dean of Science; and the Department of English.

Supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Workshop Schedule

Friday March 31, 2017

9:30 Opening Remarks (Dr. Margaret MacDonald, Dean of Arts and Teresa Heffernan, English Department, St. Mary’s University)

10:00  Property Rights: Sex Robots, Chatbots, and Machines Rights (Kathleen Richardson, De Montfort University, UK)

11:00  Killer Robots: Artificial Thought, War and Environment (Patrick Cogan, University of the West of England, UK)

12:30 – 2:00  Lunch Break

2:00  Race and Robotics: An Uncanny History (Louis Chude-Sokei, University of Washington, WA)

3:00  Robot Futures: Technocultures of Humanlike Machines (Lucy Suchman, Lancaster University, UK)

4 – 4:15  Break

4:15  On the Collision of Robot Ethics and Robot Futures (Illah Nourbakhsh, Carnegie Mellon University, PA)

5:30  Reception @ CLARI-Hub (Atrium, 3rd Floor)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

9:30 am  Opening Remarks (Teresa Heffernan, St. Mary’s University)

10:00  Evolution Ain’t Revolution (John Long, Vassar College, NY)

11:00  Unnatural Powers: A.I., Ecology and The “Risks” of Progress (Karen Asp, York University, ON)

12:30 – 2:00  Lunch

2:00  The End of a Difference: Robot Narratives for the 21st Century (Despina Kakoudaki, The American University, DC)

3:00  The Pleasures of Ambiguity (Vikram Chandra, University of California, Berkeley)

4-4:30  Audience Discussion