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Multistable Alterity Relations

Thu, November 12, 8:30 to 10:00am, Denver Sheraton, Plaza Ballroom E


In many descriptions of robotic designs within the field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) robots are depicted as quasi-biological creatures with potential agency resembling that of human beings. The descriptions seem to fit with a ‘singularist’ perspective envisioning that within only a few decades human intelligence will be replaced by machine intelligence. This perspective assumes that technologies, like robots, are stable artefacts that soon can act independently of the humans. It also assumes that humans are exceptional and that their exceptionalism is their intelligence. In the postphenomenological perspectives discussed by Don Ihde and among others Peter-Paul Verbeek and Robert Rosenberger technological artefacts are embedded in cultural contexts and may therefore be multistable. Technologies and humans constitute each other and together they create new complex cultural realities and somewhat unexpected trajectories for each other. I shall argue that roboethics need to take account of these complex realities in which a robot, no more than a human, can be said to possess an inherent stability let alone an agency entirely its own. Human exceptionalism is not an overarching intelligence but rather an overarching fantasy of the creation of artificial intelligence. Taking ‘multistability’ and ‘trajectories’ into account make a singularist fantasy of a predictable and controlled posthuman future untenable and leaves room for a new postphenomenlogical posthumanism, with a ‘spinozist’ way of envisioning roboethics.