Jos de Mul. Invited lecture in the series Die Frage nach dem Menschen und seinem Selbstverständnis in den Wissenschaften. Graduate School for the Humanities. Universität Köln. June 27, 2017.
Jos de Mul. Invited lecture at the Herrenhausen conference Society through the Lens of the Digital. Hannover, May 31-June 2, 2017.
Experts will discuss how the humanities and social sciences deal with the social challenges of digitization at the Herrenhausen Conference in Hanover from May 31 till June 2, 2017.
The perspectives of the social sciences and humanities on the digitization of society are the topic of this Herrenhausen Conference.
The Herrenhausen Conference "Society through the Lens of the Digital" explores the role of the social sciences and the humanities in a society saturated with debates on the effects of digitization: Parties, NGOs and the public sphere explore ideas of digital democracy. Luminaries of business try to map and unlock the potential of big data and of platform capitalism. Data journalists experiment with modes of describing the world not through linear texts but through algorithms and interactive visualizations while intelligent systems have to learn to navigate the often-ambiguous rules and structures of society. We're lacking scientific approaches to this multiplicity of discourses on digitization, which allow us to adequately explore its implications for research, research policy and the public role of the social sciences and humanities. The Herrenhausen Conference "Society through the Lens of the Digital" aims to fill this gap.
Jos de Mul. Wat is Data? Virtuele lezing op de Eerste Nederlandse Datafestatie. Amsterdam, 20 december 2016.
datum: 20 december
tijd: 18.00 – 20.00 uur
Het verschijnen van de beeldcultuurkrant ‘Van Dada naar Data’ wordt gevierd met de eerste Nederlandse Datafestatie, op 20 december in Felix Meritis te Amsterdam. Het evenement biedt een vrolijk podium aan dataïsten van uiteenlopend allooi – kunstenaars, wetenschappers, robots, reclamemakers, filosofen, bloggers – in een bonte mengeling van muziek, talkshow, hagepreek en bewegend behang.
Honderd jaar geleden ontstond Dada, de non-beweging die zich in een tijdperk van grote spanningen verzette tegen nationalisme en burgerlijkheid in kunst en samenleving. De komst van nieuwe technologie heeft er toe bijgedragen dat we opnieuw een periode van onbestendigheid beleven. Een zee van ‘big data’ vraagt om nieuwe verbindingen en het opgeven van oude zekerheden. Fuseert de mens met de systemen? Blijft zij de belangrijkste soort op aarde? Hebben traditionele politieke opvattingen en kunstdisciplines nog iets bij te dragen aan de komende omwenteling?
De eerste Datafestatie geeft voorlopig nog het woord, en het beeld, aan makers en denkers met een eigen stijl, een eigen taal en autonome ideeën waarmee ze zich verhouden tot de netwerken om zich heen. Ze tonen de verbindingen en de clashes, de orde en de chaos, het komische en het tragische van de nieuwe wereld waarin alles data is, en data alles.
Met medewerking van onder anderen: Sebastian Olma, Janneke Stegeman, Roel Roscam Abbing & Dennis de Bel, Elize de Mul, Erik Bindervoet, Oscar Jan Hoogland, Theo van Doesburg, Ruben Pater, Geert Lovink, Stefan Schafer, Antoinette Hoes, Ramin Bahari, Jonas Lund, Czeslaw de Wijs, Ruben Jacobs, Urland, Rosa Menkman, Teyosh, Nadine Roestenburg, Michael Mandiberg, Aynouk Tan. Volg voor de virtuele bijdrage van Jos de Mul de volgende link: Wat is Data? (and for the English version: What is Data?).
De Datafestatie is een project van MOTI, Museum of the Image, Felix Meritis, Avans Hogeschool, ’t Barre Land en The Image Society en werd mede mogelijk gemaakt door de Gemeente Breda, het Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie en de Bankgiro Loterij.
Idee en productie: Mieke Gerritzen, Ward Janssen, Czeslaw de Wijs, Hans Maarten van den Brink.
Felix Meritis – Keizersgracht 324 Amsterdam
Jos de Mul. Ontzaglijke kunst. Over het natuurlijke en technologisch sublieme. Studium Generale Art, Nature & Technology. AKV|St.Joost in Den Bosch, 30 september 2016.
Every once in a while we experience something extraordinary. Such ‘awesome’ experiences might happen in our research, when we unexpectedly discover something really amazing, or when we come across a magnificent landscape, hear a piece of music that really moves us, or when we fall deeply in love. Traditionally these kinds of extraordinary experiences are called “sublime”. In the following I will present some reflections on one particular kind of sublimity: the technological sublime.
I will develop my argument in three parts. First I will point out the meaning and history of the concept of the sublime. Next, I will argue that in de twentieth century, the sublime has transformed from a natural to a technological category. In the third and last part I will defend the thesis that in the age of biotechnologies the technological sublime becomes a natural category again, which leaves us with some uncanny questions.
Jos de Mul. The Wikipedia Religion: A Sinner’s Account. Invited lecture at the conference Technology and Transcendence. Enschede: University of Twente / NWO, November 18, 2016.
Let me begin with a confession. I’m a sinner, too. According to Michael Gorman, former president of the American Library Association, “A professor who encourages the use of Wikipedia is the intellectual equivalent of a dietician who recommends a steady diet of Big Macs with everything” (quoted in Reagle, 2010b, p. 138). To make my case worse, I not only encourage my students to use Wikipedia, but I’m also guilty of using Wikipedia myself quite frequently. However, I immediately like to add that I hardly ever eat Big Macs, and almost ever read and discuss primary texts and reliable secondary literature with my students.
So why do I sin? Well, probably the most obvious reason is the overwhelming amount of information to be found on Wikipedia. The English version alone already has reached 5,285,797 articles yesterday, and if we include the number of articles written in the 287 Wikipedia’s in other lanuages, the number exceeds 40 million. Moreover, no other encyclopedia is so up to date (the fact that I know that the English version of Wikipedia reached exactly 5,285,797 million yesterday, was because the Wikipedia lemma on Wikipedia has been updated three days ago). No wonder that I’m not the only sinner: as of February 2014, Wikipedia has 18 billion page views and nearly 500 million unique visitors each month! A second reason I love Wikipedia is the free-access and free-content character of this encyclopedia, offering – worldwide - millions of people, many of them deprived of books and libraries, a wealth of information, knowledge, and sometimes even wisdom.
It seems that Wikipedia even has a divine ring. It promises to provide us with an omniscience that once was attributed to God. Together with technologies like telepresence and virtual reality – which express the human desire to obtain two other divine qualities: omnipresence and omnipotence – Wikipedia promises to guide us right through “the pearly gates of cyberspace”.
Jos de Mul. The Turing Test in recent science fiction films. A philosophical analysis against the background of the Turing-Wittgenstein Debate. Kyoto: Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories, June 21, 2016.
The British mathematician, computer scientist and philosopher Alan Turing (1912 -1954) is not only the inventor of the programmable computer, but also one of the pioneers of artificial intelligence. He also invented the imitation game, a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. This so-called Turing test plays a prominent role in several recent science fiction movies, such as Her (2013), Ex machina(2015), and Uncanny (2015). Against the background of the Turing-Wittgenstein debate on the possibility of thinking machines (1938), I will discuss what these movies tell us about the present prospects with regard to humanoid AI and robot systems.
Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories were founded to encourage and promote studies based on original and unique ideas from Hiroshi Ishiguro, ATR Fellow, who has remarkable achievements on robotics. We have explored new information media based on humanlike robots that harmonize humans with information-environment beyond existing personal computers, while inquiring the question "what is the essence of human beings?"
Erica is an android developed as a research platform for the autonomous conversational robot. We are developing total technology to enable Erica to have natural interaction with persons by integrating various technologies such as voice recognition, human tracking, and natural motion generation. It has nineteen degrees of freedom for face, neck, shoulder, and waist, and can express various facial expressions and some gestural motions. Its appearance is designed for beautiful and neutral female face, by which people can familiarly interact with it. It speaks in synthesized voice.
Denis Noble and Jos de Mul. The self as agent and process: a view from the systems approach. Dialogue at the conference What is it to be human? Utrecht, April 20.
Jos de Mul, Europe, the tragic continent. Public lecture at the Institute of Philosophy, University of Warsaw. Room 4, roundfloor. April 5, 2016, 1:15-3:00 PM.
In his essay ‘The Idea of Europe’ George Steiner claims that European culture derives from “a primordial duality, the twofold inheritance of Athens and Jerusalem.” For Steiner, the relationship between Greek rationalism and Jewish religion, which is at once conflictual and syncretic, has engaged the entire history of European philosophy, morality, and politics. However, given this definition, at present the United States of America seem to be more European than ‘the old Europe’ itself. Against Steiner, it will be argued that in order to fathom the distinctive characteristic of European culture, we have to take a third European tradition into account, which is inextricably bound up with Athens: the tradition of Greek tragedy. If we may call Europe a tragic continent, it is not only because its history is characterised by an abundance of real political tragedies, but also because it embodies, as an idea and an ideal, a tragic awareness of the fragility of human life. Instead of reducing the ‘idea of Europe’ to a financial and economic issue, Europe should remain faithful to this idea and ideal.
Jos de Mul, Playful Identities. From narrative to ludic identity formation. Public lecture at the Institute of Philosophy, University of Warsaw. Room 4, groundfloor. April 5, 2016, 6:30-8:00 PM.
Digital media technologies increasingly shape how people relate to the world, to other people and to themselves. This prompts questions about present-day mediations of identity. This lecture explores the notion of play as a heuristic lens to look at changing media practices and identity construction. Playful media culture is analyzed far beyond its apparent manifestation in computer games. The central argument of the lecture is that play and games nowadays are not only appropriate metaphors to capture post-modern human identities, but also the very means by which people reflexively construct their identity.
Jos de Mul, Michel Houellebecq’s tragic humanism. Lecture in the series Personhood, Law & Literature , organized by the Human Philosophy Project (Warsaw University & Oxford University). Institute of Philosophy, University of Warsaw. Room 4, roundfloor. April 7, 2016, 5-8 PM.
Various authors, including Friedrich Nietzsche and George Steiner, have argued that the tragic worldview, as we find it expressed in Greek tragedy, has become an entirely incomprehensible phenomenon for (post)modern man. The claim defended in this article radically opposes this view. It is argued that tragedy can still teach us something today, and maybe even more so now than in the many intervening centuries that separate us from her days of glory in the fifth century bce. The tragic reveals itself once more in (post)modern society, and nowhere more clearly than in technology, the domain in which we believed the tragic had been domesticated or even eliminated. Referring to the tragic humanism in Michel Houellebecq’s novels The Elementary Particles and The Possibility of an Island it is argued that it is precisely in (post)modern (bio)technologies that we experience the rebirth of the tragic.