Transhumanism in Dresden
Prof. Dr. Lorenz Sorgner is bio ethicist and transhumanist. He advocates a „nietzschean transhumanism“ and believes it possible to save the human mind on a hard disc. His journal on the topic of posthumanism will be released in august 2017. October 2016, his latest book was published: Transhumanismus – "die gefährlichste Idee der Welt"?!
The 20th december 2016 Sorgner presented his concept in a lecture at the TU Dresden.
Popularization of philosophy?
A whole discussion on the subject of the "popularization of philosophy" can be found in the philosophy journal "Hohe Luft". Isn’t it great, having the opportunity to follow an online discussion like the one between the Heidegger publisher Peter Trawny and the "Hohe Luft" editor-in-chief Thomas Vasek? Trawny‘s thesis is that philosophy is in danger to abolish itself due to its increasing popularization. Thomas Vašek responds: Philosophy is there for everyone und shouldn’t be confined to elitist phoney debates. Indeed: Everybody can learn something from this little online debate, so here are the links to the three posts (all in German): Philosophy has to reflect its own popularization, We don’t need no protected think tanks, and: No requirements have to be accepted by philosophy!
Hacked cars, Roboters tending sheep and Cyberwar surgery?
There are many who see a lot of potential in autonomously moving cars. Still: there is the risk that smart cars might be hacked (yes, autonomous cars as well), and it is decidedly difficult to defuse malware. Concerning automatization in general: There is already a robot which tends to sheep, but even robots used for surgeries can be hacked. Who is actually still thinking about what might happen if technology fails, respectively isn’t just ready yet?
Gotta catch 'em all!
Quite a unique phenomenon, even in the special fields of Augmented Reality and Social Media: Pokemon Go! The game brings the hype to the masses and makes the social media an immediate part of the phenomenon. All in all: a phenomenon with quite an addiction potential and certain risks, but: at least the children sometimes go out again and play outside… (Links in German)
Call for Abstracts
The Austrian Association for Science and Technology Studies organizes a workshop about ‘COMMUNITY AND IDENTITY IN CONTEMPORARY TECHNOSCIENCES’. The workshop is organized by Dr. Karen Kastenhofer (Institute of Technology Assessment/Austrian Academy of Sciences) and takes place on 16-18 February 2017 in Wien. (mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Literature and Links
Spektrum Spezial Biologie/Medizin/Hirnforschung 3/16
Our senses – scientists discover hitherto unknown characteristics which are going neatly with our body oriented (and therefore not brain fixed) definition of mental capabilities. Also, another "Spektrum Spezial Physik, Technologie zu Zukunftstechnologien" (about physics, technology and future technologies) will be published. We’ll check it out and come back with the details in the next newsletter.
Arun Sundararajan: The Sharing Economy
This book is a current recommendation of MIT. For the author, the emergence of an economy of sharing is not a modern revolutionary concept, but a classic one with a new technical twist. The Crowd-Based-Capitalism seems to remain – for the time being. In any case, the Sharing Economy is studied at the MIT.
Nolen Gertz: Death by Robot: The Ethics of Turning Assistive Technologies into Assassins. ABC Religion and Ethics, 12 Jul 2016
Nolen Gertz considers the conversion of a bomb-exploding-robot in a men-exploding-robot. Soldiers who are dealing with these robots regularly and militarily seem to form a bond with these machines. These soldiers think one of their "fellow soldiers" to be turned into a kind of "suicide bomber" by the police of Dallas. Gertz tries to present the conversion of technical objects as ethically and legally relevant. He objects to the jurist Orin Kerr, who referred to the case as "legally interesting".
Daniel Miller: Social Media in an English Village, UCL Press, 2016
Do the social media become asocial? Well, at least social media bring "social" even further in the economic sphere. The following series of books offers a view on the phenomenon: Social Media in an English Village is also accessible online as a free white paper – how very social media fit.
Robert Biel: Sustainable Food Systems – The Role of The City
With the reorganization of traditional cooperations, society could react to the global food challenge. In Sustainable food Systems - The Role of The City, the author asks a number of key questions and presents some of the recent research approaches of the current discourse.
Innovatives Sachsen. Hg. vom Freistaat Sachsen, März 2016
Saxony is one of the most innovative regions in Europe: The research executed in the area will be influential in everyday life and climate. An example: The company Sunfire in Dresden develops a technology able to transform carbon dioxide and water through renewable energies in synthetic fuels. Thus, the power can be used to drive cars, ships, planes, making them climate-neutral. Daimler in Kamenz, Thyssen-Krupp in Pleißa are busy with research regarding zero-emission drives and at the TU Chemnitz, lighter materials to save energy are developed. The magazine gives an overview of innovative companies and groundbreaking concepts.
Delahaye, Jean-Paul (2016): Die Intelligenzformel. Künstliche Intelligenz – Computer vollbringen eine Vielzahl intelligenter Leistungen – doch stets auf anderen Wegen als der Mensch. Forscher suchen nun nach einer universellen Beschreibung von natürlicher und künstlicher Intelligenz. In: Spektrum der Wissenschaft: Gehirn & Geist 7/2016, 52ff
Human performances are surpassed by AI – within special tasks, that is, and never through imitation of human intelligence. AI aren’t able to help understanding the human mind. In the search of a universal intelligence, which includes natural and artificial intelligence – while outlining an understanding of intelligence, irrespective of the human condition – a new field of research and the freely accessible Journal of Artificial General Intelligence was founded. The principle of rigour (Ockham’s razor) – the smallest ration between description and descriptive data – is an evolutionary advantage.
It should be clear that the problems made for a software (and they are especially made for the calculation abilities of the software by default) are completely different than the issues of human existence. In addition, one has to discuss, how the aims, developed by the machine itself, are to be valued. In which bigger framework does it root in, what is the greater goal? Overall, the complexity of the phenomena of intelligence and action seem to be neglected in the concept of the AGI.
Gelitz, Christiane (2016): Interview mit einem Cog. Computerlinguistik – Kognitive Systeme von Google & Co. entschlüsseln die Bedeutung von Sprache mit statistischen Methoden und künstlichen neuronalen Netzen. Als nächstes sollen sie lernen, Geschichten zu verstehen. In: Spektrum der Wissenschaft: Gehirn & Geist 09/2016, S. 42ff.
Computational linguistics: With "Deep Learning" in multilayered artificial neuronal networks, machines are supposed to grasp the value and meaning of human language. While the first phase of computational linguistics (beginning in the 1950s) was shaped syntactically and therefore dedicated to the analysis of different sentence elements, the second, the semantic phase tries to construct meaning with the aid of knots and edges. Started in the 1960s, continued in the 1980s by Minsky, the "Natural Language Processing" did indeed develop artificial intelligent behaviour (IBMs Watson, Apples Siri) – but: "the programmes don’t know what they do." To really understand the designated things, there has to be a context of use. For this, practical empirical knowledge is necessary. This pragmatic, third phase of Natural Language Processing might reach its peak at the end of the 21. Century. But: there is always the threat of improper use, when cognitive systems perfect their abilities to read and collect our preferences, tastes, settings and attitudes.
Conferences and conventions
(September – November 2016)
Robots, Interfaces and Actant-networks
17th and 18th of September, TU Dresden‘s Professorship for Philosophy of technology invites to its workshop "Human action and autonomous actant systems. Robots, interfaces, and actant networks" ("Menschliches Handeln und autonome Aktantensysteme bei Robotern, Interfaces und Aktanten-Netzwerke"). The workshop covers inter alia: The functional display of the human psyche for automation and control technology, interfaces and actant networks in between humans and machines, the limits of a transrational robot technology, and it contrasts the human drive repetition with the robotic repetition of inputs. Organized in cooperation with TU Wien and TU Dresden.
Life as an algorithm? Esc Del Shutdown Reboot!
30 September – 02 October 2016, Cologne (Alte Feuerwache): conference with the theme "Big Data - Leben ist kein Algorythmus – Esc Del Shutdown Reboot". The subject and topic selection shows promise and an unconventional approach with its practical orientation. Mind you, few of the developments concerning the Internet are shaped by academia.
The world of artefacts – from the view of engineers
From 25th until 27th November, the "Work group of philosophizing engineers and natural scientists" invites to Enkirch an der Mosel. Theme of the Aphin II 2016-conference: "World of artefacts" ("Welt der Artefakte"). The conference volume will be published in 2017. Here is a summary of the presentations and abstracts.
Apocalypse No! The Ethics association of the German economy considers the "Brave New World"
The Giordano Bruno Stiftung and the ethics association of the German economy invite to the Goethe Universität, Frankfurt. The "Frankfurter Zukunfts-Symposium 2016" takes place from 29th to 30th October 2016 under the headline "Schöne neue Welt?" ("Brave New World?"). Thematic blocks include "Apokalypse No!", "Virtuelle Realitäten und intelligente Roboter", and "Die Würde des Menschen ist … ungeklärt".
Research approaches of the Professorship for Philosophy of technology at TU Dresden for the forthcoming four semesters
Since summer 2016, work groups like "Hypermoderne Technologie" ("Hypermodern technology") and "Computermodellierung" ("Computer modelling") exist. The coming semesters, Professor Irrgang will invite to the following Master seminars: Epistemology of the early computer sciences, considering the work of Johannes von Neumann, Norbert Wiener, and Alan Turing. The approach will incorporate the concepts of Fleck, Polanyi, Husserl, Heidegger, Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty. The connection of tacit and explicit knowledge will be a crucial research topic for the next four semesters. Another focal point will be Pragmatism, with a particular emphasis towards the 18th century. Research approaches arise from Humes Skepticism, Kants Opus Postumum, the philosophy of Commonsense and academically established philosophy as well as the Eclecticism of the University of Göttingen and Empirism. "I plan to complete my efforts for the academic philosophy", Prof. Irrgang says.
One (working) Life and: The Current Trend in AI research
One of the „founding fathers“ of AI, Marvin Minsky, reflects about his professional life. The interview was conducted by Will Knight of MIT Technology Review and grants a compact insight during its four minutes. More about the speech comprehension of cognitive systems under the link.