Date: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Location: Lab111 (Arie Biemondstraat 111, Amsterdam)
Ticket: 15 euros (three course dinner, excluding drinks).
Buying a ticket is possible until: Saturday, April 14
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.