[ISEA2011] Panel: William Hart & Nancy Mauro-Flaude – Don’t Anthropomorpise Me: Electronic Performance Tools, Automatons and The Vanity Apocalypse

Panel Statement

Chair Per­sons: William Hart & Nancy Mauro-Flaude
Pre­sen­ters: William Hart, Brad Miller, Linda De­ment, Danja Vasiliev, Au­drey Sam­son & Ju­lian Sta­don

This panel ex­am­ines bots & au­tomata as sub­jects of cul­ture, with the par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis on how we ex­pe­ri­ence and per­son­alise our in­ter­ac­tions with them. So­cia­ble robot de­vel­op­ment raises many ques­tions with re­gards to cul­tures of spir­i­tu­al­ity and ex­pres­sion.  The choice of en­cod­ing tool and in­ter­face are in­trin­sic to any com­mu­ni­ca­tion plat­form, which al­ways gives rise to new sit­u­a­tions that must be tack­led. Cre­ative re­flec­tion and crit­i­cal in­tel­li­gent play has al­lowed for the nu­mer­ous syn­er­gies be­tween man and ma­chine and in­flu­ences how we are nat­u­rally in­clined to in­ter­act and use these new tech­nolo­gies, and how these in­ter­ac­tions im­pact on so­ci­ety.  Such di­verse views to­ward tech­nol­ogy are shaped by re­spec­tive so­cial his­to­ries, cul­tures and ex­pe­ri­ences.  Ro­bots have be­come cult ob­jects of con­tem­pla­tion, giv­ing us a sense of con­nect­ed­ness with the world around us.  Con­cep­tion of the other is formed by re­flec­tion of our pro­jected per­cep­tions and these per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences in turn cre­ate new cul­tural iden­tity aes­thet­ics or pre­sent chal­lenges to rep­re­sen­ta­tion as we know it.  There is con­tin­u­ing dis­course on how our ro­bots should look and what role they should take in so­ci­ety. We wish to offer com­men­tary on these de­bates and raise is­sues about our his­tor­i­cal and so­cial re­la­tion­ship with ma­chines and hope to ex­tend a unique way of see­ing ro­bots: as a cul­tural phe­nom­e­non, as com­pan­ions, as ob­jects of star­tling beauty and as an im­por­tant con­tem­po­rary art form.  Ever cu­ri­ous how the field of ro­bot­ics and com­pu­ta­tional media can yield new po­ten­tial un­der­stand­ings for the­o­ries of em­bod­i­ment. Over the years there have been many spec­u­la­tions around the para­dox of com­put­ing, the­atre ma­chines and play.  We have this strong de­sire to in­vest ma­chines with in­tel­li­gence. We col­lec­tively buy into this mythol­ogy, want­ing to be­lieve in­tel­li­gence ex­ists in these so­phis­ti­cated cal­cu­la­tors. An­thro­po­mor­phism con­tin­u­ally haunts us, and our ma­chines –  have we al­ways been and will we fun­da­men­tally re­main idol­aters?

  • Dr. Bill Hart is a lec­turer in Elec­tronic Media at the Uni­ver­sity of Tas­ma­nia, Australia, he has been work­ing with com­put­ing tech­nol­ogy for 30 years, firstly as a phys­i­cal sci­en­tist, and for the past fif­teen years as an artist, in 2008 he com­pleted a PhD ex­am­in­ing ex­pres­sive pro­gram­ming, lan­guage and re­al­time imag­ing.
  • Nancy Mauro-Flaude  [ISEA2011 provided no biographical information]