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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  December 2008

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING December 2008

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Subject:

Re: Bio

From:

Kristina Höök <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Kristina Höök <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 5 Dec 2008 11:39:18 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (253 lines)

Thank you Simon! I totally agree with this viewpoint, and would just  
like to add a quote from the feminist writer Elisabeth Grosz:
“[..] as an essential internal condition of human bodies, a  
consequence of perhaps their organic openness to cultural completion,  
bodies must take the social order as their productive nucleus. Part of  
their own ‘nature’ is an organic or ontological ‘incompleteness’ or  
lack of finality, an amenability to social completion, social ordering  
and organisation.” [14] (p. xi)

While this might sound as if it only concerns what Merleau-Ponty talks  
about as our "cultural" bodies, I think it also concerns our  
"experiential" bodies - the actual corporeal selves. The tools we have  
make us experience the world in certain ways, it makes our muscles be  
used in certain ways, and it stimulates our nervous system in certain  
ways. Just like dancers, riders, or runners will shape their bodies  
into a certain form, making it sensitive to balance, position and  
rhythm, computer gamers or office workers will shape their bodies into  
fitting with gaming or desktop activities.

Our being in the world is together with others, shaping our activities  
together with them and the tools we create together (including  
language). And this changes our way of seeing ourselves and our  
understanding of the world - both bodily and social practices.

The use of the word "machine" to denote a limiting way of seeing the  
body was using the word in the limited sense of something  
deterministic, not modifying its behaviour as it goes along, with a  
simple input-output relationship. Of course AI is trying to create for  
much more interesting and complex machines - it was not those I was  
comparing the body to.

Kristina


On 5 dec 2008, at 09.46, Simon Biggs wrote:

> I think a conversation like this cannot proceed without a careful  
> definition
> of terms. What do we mean by machine? If we mean something that is, by
> definition, manufactured or artificial then to regard ourselves as  
> machines
> brings up not ontological arguments but metaphysical ones (eg: if we  
> are
> machines then who/what made us?). As a confirmed atheist I cannot  
> even begin
> to contemplate this scenario (although with all the creation myths  
> that
> surround us it is clear that most people find this agreeable).  
> However, if
> we are to understand the term Omachine’ in a broader sense (as a  
> discrete
> system that is ultimately understandable) then we can have a  
> discussion
> premised on the ontological.
>
> However, I have two problems with this latter definition of the  
> machine.
>
> Firstly, it appears too broad to me. I think it is fair to make a
> distinction between the natural world (things that are there, a  
> priori human
> activity) and the artificial world (those parts of the world we have  
> made).
> I accept these are not black and white categories (few things are that
> simple). This is why reductivist approaches to knowledge rarely  
> deliver
> anything more sophisticated than soundbites.
>
> Secondly, although the fashionable debate at the moment is about  
> questioning
> mind/body dualism (expressed in terms such as embodied cognition) to  
> me, for
> a long time, the more interesting question has concerned the self/ 
> other
> debate. The mind/body debate is premised on the assumption that we are
> individual organisms and beings. I would argue that this assumption  
> may not
> be correct and that we might not exist as individuals but rather as
> instances of being. I do not mean by this some sort of Platonic  
> holism,
> where we are each an instance of some sort of ideal, but rather that  
> we
> exist primarily as social and cultural beings, where we are brought  
> into
> being through our social relations. This position assumes that a  
> physical
> self (including the brain) is a requirement for life but that the  
> sort of
> sentience we possess is a function of a social order – we are what  
> we are
> because of how we communicate, represent, encode, make, consume and  
> remember
> (through our abstract systems, such as language, books, computers,
> possessions, etc). Assuming this sort of position leads to a pretty  
> messy
> scenario, where the delicate probings of the anthropologist are  
> probably
> more useful than those of the engineer. Again, a mechanistic  
> approach to
> this world-view would be too simplistic.
>
> I would argue that to consider ourselves to be machines invokes more
> immediately the creationist debates Paul feels his posiiton avoids  
> (see my
> first argument above, about machines requiring a maker).
>
> As such I completely disagree (with respect) with Paul’s position  
> and would
> ask him to define what he means by machine.
>
> My 2p.
>
> Regards
>
> Simon
>
>
> On 4/12/08 18:16, "Paul Brown" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> I'm not sure that I understand your statement that a dualistic point
>> of view leads to seeing ourselves as machines.  I am artist in
>> residence at one of the worlds largest artificial life research
>> centres (the CCNR at Sussex).  The work there is founded on
>> embodiment, interactionism and connectionism yet most of my  
>> colleagues
>> (and I) would see ourselves as machines.  Very sophisticated machines
>> with aspects that may not be deducible/reducible but machines
>> nevertheless.  Surely the only alternative is to invoke some agency
>> like creationism or 'intelligent design' which I for one (and I
>> suspect most of my colleagues) would certainly reject as  
>> superstition.
>>
>> Paul
>>
>>
>> On 4 Dec 2008, at 17:25, Kristina Höök wrote:
>>
>>>> In fact, in our work, we try to implement what we name an
>>>> interactional approach to emotion in human-machine interaction. An
>>>> interactional approach to design:
>>>>
>>>> 1. Recognizes affect as an embodied social, bodily and cultural
>>>> product
>>>> 2. Relies on and supports interpretive flexibility
>>>> 3. Is non-reductionist
>>>> 4. Supports an expanded range of communication acts
>>>> 5. Focuses on people using systems to experience and understand
>>>> emotions
>>>> 6. Designs systems that stimulate reflection on and awareness of
>>>> affect
>>>>
>>>> (see academic papers on this by Höök et al.,2008 or Boehner et al.
>>>> 2005).
>>>>
>>>> That is we are not tring to make machines that interpret, but to
>>>> reflect data back to users so that they can make their own stories
>>>> or dreams about themselves. And we are not only showing biodata but
>>>> also other kinds of data, putting together for a collage of scraps
>>>> and bits of your life - but as a user you have to create the story
>>>> that joins all those parts. It is not the system that does this.
>>>>
>>>> But my question was perhaps more to do with how our culture has
>>>> enforced a dualistic point of view for centuries and how this has,
>>>> perhaps, been internalised with our own understanding of our selves
>>>> so strongly that anything the "measures" some aspect of your body  
>>>> is
>>>> something that we will immideately use to look at our bodies as
>>>> objects or machines? Is it possible to design something that  
>>>> bridges
>>>> that gap and makes people see themselves a wholes?
>>>>
>>>> Kia
>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>
>>>>>> This seems to me to be an important question, but once again  
>>>>>> should
>>>>>> we not first be asking whether it is possible to map this data so
>>>>>> that it represents emotion? It strikes me that we often take time
>>>>>> to work out the emotions that we are experiencing ourselves,  
>>>>>> why is
>>>>>> it that a series of data streams looking at things such as heart
>>>>>> rate and galvanic skin response should reveal these things more
>>>>>> quickly? I don't know if there was ever a robotic psychoanalyst  
>>>>>> in
>>>>>> a Woody Allen movie but this seems to me what is being suggested
>>>>>> here. Emotions alter qualitatively and wrap themselves around
>>>>>> things and each other, emotion can colour a day and make me view
>>>>>> the world differently. There also seems to be an assumption of a
>>>>>> teleological trajectory here, emotion affects bio function, which
>>>>>> can be mapped via its data. I have days when things such as my
>>>>>> health affects my mood, here we might claim emotion 'maps'
>>>>>> physiology....
>>>>>>
>>>>
>>>> Kristina Höök
>>>> [log in to unmask]
>>>>
>>>> Professor at Stockholm University
>>>> Lab manager at SICS
>>>> Leads Mobile Life center: www.mobile-life.org
>>
>> ====
>> Paul Brown - based in the UK Aug-Dec 2008
>> mailto:[log in to unmask] == http://www.paul-brown.com
>> UK Mobile +44 (0)794 104 8228 == USA fax +1 309 216 9900
>> Skype paul-g-brown
>> ====
>> Visiting Professor - Sussex University
>> http://www.cogs.susx.ac.uk/ccnr/research/creativity.html
>> ====
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> ====
>> Paul Brown - based in the UK Aug-Dec 2008
>> mailto:[log in to unmask] == http://www.paul-brown.com
>> UK Mobile +44 (0)794 104 8228 == USA fax +1 309 216 9900
>> Skype paul-g-brown
>> ====
>> Visiting Professor - Sussex University
>> http://www.cogs.susx.ac.uk/ccnr/research/creativity.html
>> ====
>
>
>
> Simon Biggs
> Research Professor
> edinburgh college of art
> [log in to unmask]
> www.eca.ac.uk
> www.eca.ac.uk/circle/
>
> [log in to unmask]
> www.littlepig.org.uk
> AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk
>
>
> Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland,  
> number SC009201

Kristina Höök
[log in to unmask]

Professor at Stockholm University
Lab manager at SICS
Leads Mobile Life center: www.mobile-life.org

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