Social Anthropology - Robots, AI & Society

dimanche 28 août 2022

Ethnographies of Outer Space

Ethnographies of Outer Space 
Methodological Opportunities and Experiments
1 September 2022 - 2 September 2022
Palazzo di Sociologia - Via Verdi 26, Trento
Italy

Keynote speakers 
Stefan Helmreich (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Zara Mirmalek (NASA, Bay Area Environmental Research Institute) 
Valerie Olson (University of California, Irvine)

An Anthropologist on Mars (1995) is a well-known book by the neurophysiologist Oliver Sacks. Contrary to what its title suggests, the book is neither about anthropology nor about the Red Planet. It is, in fact, a collection of seven essays on the paradoxical circumstances in which those affected by particular neurological conditions find themselves. Still, the juxtaposition of the words “anthropology” and “Mars” conveys a sense of inaccessibility that – for a long time – was familiar to the ethnographer approaching fields of inquiry related to space science and technology: rather like the protagonists in Sacks seven tales, the social sciences and the humanities were (often implicitly) deemed unfit to travel to such unimaginable lands, purportedly devoid of any sociality or humanness. 
Only in the early 2000s a number of seminal studies broke through the glass ceiling. Turning their gaze toward the skies, ethnographers showed how scientific and technological practices related to outer space cannot help but be imbued with the very terrestrial logics of power and knowledgemaking. 
Today we witness a flourishing of sociological, anthropological, historical, philosophical, and geographical studies on outer space. Time is ripe to reflect on how this multifaceted field has challenged and enriched different research practices and methodologies. On the one hand, space exploration is an inherently human enterprise, and as such it lends itself to social and anthropological inquiry. On the other hand, this domain presents unique features: the sites in which social action is articulated are at once remote, imagined, global and/or exquisitely local, manipulated through analogies, physically experienced, technologically mediated, out of reach, and collectively constructed. 
This intrinsically plural character presents a methodological challenge for the social sciences and the humanities. How to approach space within different theoretical and methodological frameworks? How does this field of inquiry engender interdisciplinary “contaminations”? How does it redefine the ethnographic encounter? Ultimately, this conference seeks to explore how the sense of impossibility, inaccessibility and paradox that has long been a hallmark of social studies of outer space is becoming fertile soil for novel, far-reaching and critically engaged earthly ethnographies.



lundi 18 juillet 2022

[AAC] Droles d'objets 2023

 


Drôles d'objets 
Un nouvel art de faire
Nancy
15 - 17 mai 2023

En association avec le festival Musique Action 
du CCAM / Scène nationale de Vandœuvre

Robots, artefacts autonomes, objets connectés : comment concevoir et appréhender ces drôles d’objets qui renouvellent nos interactions avec les autres comme avec le monde ?

Nous sommes de plus en plus souvent invités à entrer en relation avec des robots ou des machines, que ce soit à des fins pratiques (thérapeutiques, professionnelles, scientifiques) ou ludiques. Ce type de relation semble dépasser rapidement le simple usage fonctionnel, la réaction automatique et l’action mécanique, pour s’ouvrir à quelques interactions lors desquelles nous tentons d’interpréter le comportement de ces objets.  Pourquoi et comment sommes-nous tentés d’interagir avec ces objets insolites qui s'animent, bougent et évoluent ? L'étude de ces objets intéresse des champs très divers des sciences, des arts et du design. Quelles méthodes adopter toutefois pour expérimenter, observer et analyser ces interactions ?

Robotique, IA, art et design, anthropologie, psychologie, philosophie, sciences du langage… chaque domaine développe ses propres notions, outils, souvent dans des contextes pluridisciplinaires. Quelles réponses la philosophe peut-elle apporter au roboticien ? En quoi la psychologie peut se nourrir du travail de l'anthropologue ? Les artistes peuvent-ils contribuer à la sociolinguistique des interactions ?

L’objectif de cette conférence est de croiser les regards des disciplines et pratiques scientifiques sur ces nouveaux objets et les interactions qu’ils suscitent. 

L'interdisciplinarité sera dans ce contexte pratiquée, expérimentée et discutée à partir de formes concrètes qu'elle prend et des tentatives (fructueuses ou non) qu'elle déploie. Ainsi, les discussions seront organisées sous forme de tables-rondes autour de trois grandes questions sur la thématique de l'interaction avec des objets animés:

Conception de l'objet : à quoi doit ressembler un objet animé ?
Comment conçoit-on un objet animé interactif ? Quels sont les paramètres, les caractéristiques et les propriétés de ces objets (forme, design, fonctionnalité) sur lesquels on peut jouer pour qu'un objet animé devienne un "partenaire" à nos yeux ? Quels sont les outils, les savoirs, les technologies que l'on peut mobiliser ? Dans quelle mesure le protocole expérimental influence-t-il et contraint-il la conception ? Peut-on et doit-on envisager une conception frugale ? Quelle place pour l'utilisateur dans la conception ?

Expérimentation et observation : comment concevoir une expérience ?
Comment bien comprendre ce qui se joue lors d’une interaction avec un objet animé ? Que peut-on mesurer, que peut-on évaluer, que peut-on observer ? Les approches qualitatives et quantitatives peuvent-elles se répondre, se nourrir, s'opposer ? Dans quelle mesure la temporalité de la confrontation influence-t-elle le résultat de l'expérimentation ? Dans quelle mesure l'observation en milieu naturel permet-elle de dépasser les limitations des expérimentations en laboratoire ? Quels sont les lieux de l'interdisciplinarité ?

Analyse : que retirons-nous de ces expériences ?
Comment interpréter les données issues d'expérimentations avec des objets animés ? Quelle confiance accorder au témoignage des sujets ? L'interprétation est-elle indépendante de toute évaluation éthique de l'interaction ? Quels sont les modèles et les théories mobilisables ? Comment intégrer des méthodes d'analyses multiples ? Ces travaux peuvent-ils éclairer les usages croissants du numérique ? Quels problèmes éthiques et politiques soulèvent ces drôles d'objets ? 

En outre, nous disposerons d'espaces de conception et d'expérimentation pour présenter les ateliers, démonstrations et installations sélectionnés, qui offriront des occasions de confronter les approches, d'affiner les questions et de prolonger les discussions.

Mots-clefs : arts/sciences, création, émotion, empathie, expérimentation, expression, intentionnalité, interaction, interdisciplinarité, interprétation, modèles, observation, perception, projection, robots.


Soumissions & formats
Les soumissions, 5000 signes, notes, espaces et bibliographies comprises, devront être envoyées pour le 31 octobre 2022.
Elles devront préciser :
  • La thématique de la soumission (Conception de l'objet, Expérimentation et observation, Analyse)
  • La discipline de l'auteur
  • Le type de soumission (Présentation & table ronde, Atelier, Démonstration,  Installation, Poster)


Dates importantes
  • 31 octobre 2022 : Date limite de soumission
  • Février 2023 : Notification aux auteurs


Comité Scientifique
Frédéric Alexandre, Virginie André, Salvatore Anzalone, Valérie Aucouturier, Heike Baldauf-Quilliatre, Joffrey Becker, Samuel Bianchini, Arnaud Blanchard, Yann Boniface, Amine Boumaza, Dominique Deuff, Olivier Duris, Alain Dutech, Carole Etienne, Valeria Giardino, Emmanuelle Grangier, Jean-François Grassin, Xavier Hinaut, Diego Jarak, Justine Lascar, Florent Levillain, Ghiles Mostafaoui, Guillaume Nassau, Magalie Ochs, Filipe Pais, Catherine Pelachaud, Alexandre Pitti, Christian Plantin, Manuel Rebuschi, Arnaud Revel, Nicolas Rougier, Lucile Sassatelli, Lucien Tisserand, Serge Tisseron, Julien Toulze, Natacha Vas-Deyres, Frédéric Verhaegen, Denis Vidal, Marion Voillot, Elisabetta Zibetti.


La précédente, et première édition, a fini par pouvoir se tenir en 2021 à La Rochelle. 
Les soumissions, articles longs et la conférence publique finale peuvent être consultés sur la page : 


mercredi 1 juin 2022

4th Conference of the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics, IACS4

Joffrey Becker, Virginie André and Alain Dutech

How do we make sense of a robot’s behavior? An experimental case study
4th Conference of the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics
June 15th 2022

Robots are known for the uncanny feelings they trig in humans. Though they are frequently thought by analogy with living bodies, their social presence is difficult to grasp. Their activity engages those who observe them in a sort of game which consists of both making hypothesis about their expected social qualities and also seeking to define their status. Roboticists, through their work on the cognition of human-robot interaction and social robotics have understood this well (Siciliano & Khatib, 2016). Based on the observation that human-machine interaction follows the rules of social interaction between humans (Reeves & Nass, 1996), their work leads to the design of robots which form, behavior and processes invite their users to recognize the human in them. However, despite their continuous efforts, human-robot interaction never appear as natural to us as a peer interaction would be. For instance, the status of 'person' that is inferred during an interaction with a robot is characterized by instability and uncertainty (Vidal, 2007). It is also subject to various transformations during the interaction itself (Becker, 2015). Moreover, objects that do not resemble the human body give rise to social-like interpretations regarding their actions or even their potential intentions (Heider & Simmel, 1940). How do we make sense of a robot's behavior? Using an example of human-robot interaction, we will see how difficult it is to interpret the behavior of a machine. Leaning on an interdisciplinary experiment crossing the field of anthropology, socio-linguistics and robotics, we will focus on the terms used by a group of human participants to describe and qualify the behavior of a robot that has been initially designed to resist anthropomorphic type of inferences. The aim of this experiment is not to assess the quality of the robot's behavior so that it could carry the same meaning for everyone in further experiments, but rather to see to what extent the various movements produced by this object generate shared interpretations or not. By studying the semantic spaces occupied by the words used to describe the movements of the machine, we will see that the meaning given to its activity is based on various known elements which also depend directly on the very experience of the participants. These elements go far beyond a simple recognition of a human character into the object. We will see that such an interaction, though obvious limitations, implies that the participants infer on the perceived movement by using a complex set of analogies.

Conference program: https://iacs4.signges.de

lundi 23 mai 2022

The Three Problems of Robots and AI

Becker, Joffrey. 2022. “The Three Problems of Robots and AI.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 11 (5): 44-49

Using examples from an ethnographic survey I conducted with manufacturers, researchers and users of so-called intelligent systems, this paper seeks to show that the relationship between humans and machines raises at least three categories of problems. The first one refers to their status and to the way they rely on life processes to function. The second emerges from the very particular interactions humans can have with them. Finally, the third one is related to the ways in which they reconfigure human organizations and activities. Leaning on the description of these ontological, interactional and organizational dimensions, this article will argue that we cannot fully grasp the effects of robots and AI without taking these dimensions into account. … 

Read the rest of the article on Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective.


 


jeudi 21 avril 2022

Colloque "Science et spiritualité, entre dialogue et confrontation"



14 mai, 14:00 – 18:30
Patronage laïque Jules Vallès 
72 Av. Félix Faure, 75015 Paris, France

Près de quatre siècles après la condamnation de Galilée, le débat public sur le thème de la science et de la religion semble toujours polarisé par deux extrêmes. D’un côté, le délire créationniste, qui entend  nier certains acquis incontournables de la science, au nom d’une lecture fondamentaliste. De l’autre, le retentissement médiatique d’ouvrages de certains scientifiques qui entendent  prouver la non-existence de Dieu à l’aide d’arguments  scientifiques. Pourtant, ces positions sont assez marginales dans les deux  camps. Le piège de ces approches reste la confusion entre la  démarche scientifique d’une part, et la démarche religieuse d’autre part. Si l’on admet cette distinction, peut-on affirmer pour autant qu’il n’existe pas de dialogue possible entre science et religion? Et de manière plus large, entre une vision scientifique et une  conception spirituelle de l’homme et du monde ?

Programme

14h-16h - Croire et connaître 

Science et religion dans la philosophie d’Auguste Comte, 
par Annie Petit,  professeure émérite de philosophie – Université Paul-Valéry de Montpellier.

Albert Einstein : religion cosmique et science moderne, 
par Lydia Jaeger,  physicienne et théologienne, professeure et directrice des études à l’Institut  Biblique de Nogent, associée de recherche au St Edmund’s College, Université  de Cambridge.

Max Weber : penser le désenchantement du monde et une sociologie des religions, 
par  Laurent Fleury, professeur de sociologie, directeur des Masters « Politiques  culturelles » et « Sciences sociales » – Université Paris VII - Diderot.

16h30-18h30 - Science et spiritualité : une dualité universelle ?

La science en pays d’Islam, 
par Ahmed Djebbar, professeur émérite de  l’Université Lille 1 et chercheur en histoire des sciences. 

Place de la science dans la spiritualité chinoise, 
par Eulalie Steens, sinologue. 

Religion et intelligence artificielle, 
par Joffrey Becker, anthropologue affilié au  Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale.


mardi 12 avril 2022

c:o/re Workshop: Interdisciplinary Research in Robotics and AI

Disabled Chair, 2014 - 2019, prototype #3, Samuel Bianchini with the collaboration of Didier Bouchon
"Invisible Man" Exhibition, curating by Murray Horne, Wood Street Galleries, Pittsburgh, April 2019. Photo: © Samuel Bianchini - ADAGP
An artwork developed and prototyped as part of the research project “Behavioral Objects” of the Reflective Interaction Group of EnsadLab 
(laboratory of The École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs - PSL University).


 Joffrey Becker and Käte Hamburger Kolleg Aachen: Cultures of Research (c:o/re) 
RWTH Aachen University

c:o/re Workshop: Interdisciplinary Research in Robotics and AI
One-day workshop April 20 2022

To take part online, please register with
events[at]khk.rwth-aachen.de

This workshop addresses interaction design by focusing on the notion of Behavioral Objects. Based on robotics and artificial intelligence, these non-anthropomorphic, non-zoomorphic objects are endowed with capacities for expressive movement, action and reactions and are also able to elicit observers’ behavioral interpretations (intentional and emotional attributions). They are therefore of interest to many fields of research like social sciences, humanities, robotics, computer sciences, art and design. The workshop will address the interdisciplinary framework opened by Behavioral Objects and the experimental perspective that brings together and combines these disciplines.

Program:

12:00-02:00pm 
The Apprentices: Objects with Interacting Behaviours

Samuel Bianchini 
(Reflective Interaction Research Group/EndsadLab, 
École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, PSL University), 

Elena Tosi Brandi 
(Xdlab/Art Directions Nods, Orange)
 
Hugo Scurto 
(Inserm-Sorbonne Université and ISIR, CNRS Sorbonne-Université 
and Reflective Interaction Research Group)

The Appprentices is a design research project led by multidisciplinary teams from Orange Innovation and EnsadLab (the laboratory of the École des Arts Décoratifs, Paris). Following an experimental approach that combines human sciences (notably anthropology and cognitive sciences), robotics and computer sciences (machine learning) with digital creation and innovation, this project explores new relational modalities between humans and our robotic environments enhanced by artificial intelligence techniques. If our everyday objects might be empowered with abilities of movement and learning, action and reaction, and a behavioral dimension, how can we design new relationships with these robotic artefacts but also between them? 

This lunch talk will describe The Appprentices, an instrumental “dispositif” to experiment with such “behavioral objects”, focusing on an original dimension that allows movement and sound to be strongly paired: vibration, vibratory space as a system of communication and interaction. Specifically, the talk will detail the participatory design process that enabled practitioners and researchers from diverse disciplines to collaborate in the prototyping of the dispositif, in an attempt to entangle technical components of these robotic objects with concepts of agency, animacy, learning, and vibration.

05:00 – 07:00pm
Behavioral Objects, Agonistic Objects 
How and why to design art robotic objects fighting against and for their being conditions?

Samuel Bianchini 
(Reflective Interaction Research Group/EndsadLab, 
École nationale supérieure des Arts décoratifs, PSL University)

Created in an artistic context that also belongs to the wider field of robotics, “behavioral objects” are defined by their capacity to express a “personality” thanks to the quality of their movements and their actions and reactions, which are, in this case, regarded as “behaviors.” Non-figurative, these art objects have no need of being useful - their activity does not have a specific function or usage - and they have built-in energy sources that are, generally, not visible, making it impossible to attribute to a third party the energy directly required to make them move, the physical cause of their activity. 

If their expressive capacities can be provided through the ability to move and interact dynamically with the environment, what kind of interaction could we design to stimulate the attribution of behaviors and even personality? How to build an emotional and reflective relation with this robotics object through an aesthetic dimension in operation? 

Based on the presentation of several art projects developed in the framework of our Behavioral Objects research and creation project, we propose to consider the design of this objects through an agonistic approach. Even in operation, these objects are still in construction: in a kind of new homeostatic perspective, they are always seeking for their balance. They need to fight for that, against and for their being conditions. Exhibited such objects it is to exhibit this fight. It requires now to configure relations of forces, internal as with the environment. This new kind of settings as to consider aesthetic, symbolic and technical dimensions gathered in real-time operation. It raises the possibility of an agonistic design, a way to set conditions for a sensitive and reflective experience for objects and humans.

vendredi 8 avril 2022

Drôles d’Objets: A New Art of Making

[Reposted from KHK: https://khk.rwth-aachen.de/2022/04/08/2584/2584/]

Robots, autonomous artifacts, connected objects: how can we design and understand these strange objects that renew our interactions with others and the world around us? We are more and more often invited to enter into a relationship with robots or machines, whether for practical (therapeutic, professional, scientific) or playful purposes. This type of relationship is rapidly developing beyond simple functional use, automatic or mechanical action, towards a type of interaction that involves our effort to interpret the behavior of these objects. Why and how are we tempted to interact with unusual objects that ‘come to life’, move and evolve? The study of these objects interests a wide range of fields in science, art and design. I can mention, among others, robotics, AI, art and design, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, language sciences: each field develops its own notions, methods and tools, often in multidisciplinary contexts. What answers can the philosopher bring to the roboticist’s questions? How can psychology feed on the work of anthropology? Can artists contribute to the sociolinguistics of human-machine interactions?

In order to interface views in art, design and scientific practices on both these objects and the interactions they cause, the Psyphine research group joined forces with partners from the University of Lorraine, La Rochelle University and the Zero1 Festival for an interdisciplinary conference called “Drôles d’Objets” held during October 27th – 29th, 2021 in the harbour of La Rochelle [1]. In French, the adjective “drôle” covers a wide range of meanings and can be translated as amusing, entertaining, silly, creepy, surprising, funny, interesting, unusual, thought provoking, etc. The term refers to a complexity of issues which characterizes these curious objects as well as the various ways researchers, artists and designers address them.

The conference gathered more than 35 participants coming from various fields of research, such as computer sciences, robotics, art, design, psychology, management, philosophy, anthropology, linguistics. Organized around four main panels, the conference also devoted an afternoon to showcases, workshops and posters with Antoine Desjardin, Giancarlo Rizza, Dominique Deuff, Marion Voillot, Arnaud Blanchard, Romina Romay, Yann Boniface or Xavier Hinaut. The work of artists in residence Agustín Ramos Anzorena and Fabien Zocco (with his project Spider and I) were also presented during an evening session.

Starting with a session dedicated to conception practices, the conference first addressed questions related to the methods, tools and know-how associated with the design of interactive objects. How do we design an interactive animated object? What are the parameters, characteristics and properties we can play with so that an animated object becomes a “partner”? What are the tools, knowledge and technologies that can be mobilized? The first panel, coordinated by Nicolas Rougier, offered inputs on the diversity of approaches regarding not only the design of objects but also the tools and the methods employed to address conceptualizing from various disciplines. The session featured contributions from Jeanne Lallement and Juliette Passebois on service robots in commercial types of interaction, Mariela Yeregui on her research and creation project “États d’alerte” (State of alert), which illustrates the otherness of machines as a potential threat, Ghiles Mostafaoui on natural and intuitive interaction design in robotics and computer science, and Sylvain Raynal on the autonomy of the subject in his relation to industrial machinism and freedom.

The conference also addressed questions on the observation and the interpretation of results. How can we design an experiment? How can we understand what is happening during an interaction with an animated object? What can we measure, evaluate, and observe? What do we learn from these experiences? How to interpret data from experiments with animated objects? Can we trust the testimony of the subjects? Coordinated by Valeria Giardino, this second panel gathered contributions from Guillaume Nassau, who asked whether a robot is perceived as an interactant or as an object for discussion, and Manuel Rebuschi, who explored questions associated to mental projections and animism using Kendall Walton’s theory of fiction.

I had the pleasure to coordinate the third session, focused on health- and care-related issues. Robotics and computer sciences have entered this field in various ways. A number of projects are, for instance, concerned with the cohabitation of humans and robots. Some aim at replacing humans in work situations. Robots are also used as a new sort of mediation tool for caregivers. However, their therapeutic contribution remains difficult to establish. With contributions from Jean-Pierre Merlet on the conception and the experimentation of assistive robotic objects, Gloria Michiels on the ethnography of humanoid robots in care spaces, Olivier Duris and Charlotte Labossière on the use of robots regarding children suffering from autistic spectrum disorders, and Quentin Dumoulin on the role that fabrication laboratories could play in pedopsychiatry, the panel addressed questions raised by robots and artificial intelligent-based objects. Are they useful tools or rather gadgets? What is their role? Is their aesthetic appearance important? Do they replace the work of caregivers or are they rather a new tool in the therapeutic process?

Finally, the last session coordinated by Virgine André addressed experiences conducted on telepresence, interactive systems and virtual reality. Gathering researchers mainly working in the field of language and education sciences, the panel explored the effects of telepresence oriented technologies on social interaction. Maud Ciekanski and Virginie Privas-Breauté presented the results of a comparative study of immersive technologies for language learning. Jean-François Grassin showed how telepresence robots modify attention processes during a meeting. Joséphine Rémon, Christelle Combe and Amélie Bouquain, presented an experimentation on telepresence robots conducted within the project “présence numérique” (digital presence). Caroline Vincent, Christine Develotte, Mabrouka El Hachani and Justine Lascar addressed the methodology for studying interactions in mixed groups using telepresence robots.

The conference concluded with an intervention by anthropologist Denis Vidal and neuroscientist Frédéric Alexandre who aimed to put into perspective the work conducted during the week for a larger audience. The recording of their intervention, which is in French, can be viewed on the website of the University of Lorraine: https://podcast.univ-lorraine.fr

This interdisciplinary conference showed the necessity of crossing the viewpoints of different disciplines when it comes to the design of interactive robotic systems. It showed that despite the differences, only a transversal approach involving engineering sciences, humanities and social sciences, artists and users can address the major issues that these “drôles d’objets” pose to our societies.

[1] The proceedings of the conference can be found here.