Blows to our narcissism? Our PhD course on ‘Technologies are Us: Feminist Perspectives on Posthuman Futures’

Friday 18 Sept 2020 the news were full of a 20-year old Tesla car driver in Canada lying on his front seat asleep whilst his car drove along on autopilot at 150 km/h. What does this suggest? A naïve faith in (almost) autonomous cars, a ludic approach to life (and death?), plain stupidity, over-reacher syndrome, or…? Technologies are us – in so many ways…

Photo: Colourbox / Nina Bergheim Dahl

Week 39 of 2020 is the time of Nordwit’s second PhD course, entitled ‘Technologies are Us: Feminist Perspectives on Posthuman Futures’. In developing the course we were interested in how instantly questions of gender and technology led to questions of ethics. As Catherine Malabou in Morphing Intelligence (2019) suggests, ‘for the first time in a very long time, our society [is] expressing a deep and urgent need for philosophy.’ Malabou regards contemporary affective responses to artificial intelligence such as fear as misplaced – machines, even so-called self-learning ones, will not become our masters since they themselves are constructed by humans. What troubles her, and should trouble us, is their governance. This, for all the counterclaims made by GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) company owners and directors, i.e. the question of governance, which relates to democracy, community, trust, is the key concern from Malabou’s perspective. Systematic consultation with cybercitizens to build an AI future which supports community is what Malabou advocates, and it is how we should meet the inevitability that technologies are us in the world of AI.

Gabriele Griffin

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