Uppsala Informatics and Media Hub for Digital Existence
~ A humanities nucleus for the study of digital media, automation and existential possibilities and challenges of our time ~
The Uppsala Informatics and Media Hub for Digital Existence at Uppsala University offers a humanities approach to digitalization and automation. The Hub entails a unique research initiative based in existential media studies, and explores what it means to be human in an age of anticipatory systems and AI, through a holistic approach that tackles both the values, the vulnerabilities and the ethical imperatives of the massive transformations at hand. The Hub enables scholars to connect and new research to take shape, also in close collaboration with stakeholders and society.
Ongoing project BioMe within the national research programme WASP-HS:
Digital Existence III: Living with automation – call for engagement papers
We are happy to announce Digital Existence III: Living with automation – a conference about artificial intelligence (AI), biometrics and the human condition. The conference will be held at The Sigtuna Foundation. Postponed to 31 May – 1 June 2021.
News and activities
DIGMEX research network
The DIGMEX research network for the study of digital media and existential issues and challenges, was established in October 2014 and now comprises over 180 members from all over the world.
As a home for existential media studies the Hub applies and updates classic phenomenological resources in existential philosophy to contemporary stakes of digital culture and automated media technologies.
The Human Observatory for Digital Existence
The Human Observatory for Digital Existence is a collaboration between the Hub and the Sigtuna Foundation.
Exhibition: Hyper Human
Since 2019, Tekniska Museet in Stockholm is an associated partner of Uppsala Informatics and Media Hub for Digital Existence. As a member of our outreach platform, the museum is represented in the continued conversations about digital media and existential issues and challenges facilitated by the hub with stakeholders in Sweden. This includes for example workshops, seminars and exhibition tours.
Through active participation in the exhibition Hyper Human, and joint work with reference groups, the museum will be one of the sites where the research project BioMe will be generating its collaborative research. For the Hyper Human exhibition, the research team has contributed with an interactive installation and ethical dilemmas relating to biometric technology in cooperation with Visage Technologies.
Hyper Human is shown from 21 March 2020 and until further notice.
Amanda Lagerkvist is Principal Investigator of the Hub and Professor of Media and Communication Studies in the Department of Informatics and Media at Uppsala University. Professor Lagerkvist is a media phenomenologist and a founder of existential media studies. In 2013 she was appointed Wallenberg Academy Fellow (IMS/SU). As WAF, Lagerkvist headed the research programme Existential Terrains: Memory and & Meaning in Cultures of Connectivity, funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation.
Matilda Tudor, PhD and researcher in the Department of Informatics and Media at Uppsala University, is coordinator of the hub and a research fellow and research assistant within BioMe: Existential Challenges and Ethical Imperatives of Biometric AI in Everyday Lifeworlds. Tudor is also the main coordinator of the DIGMEX network and its associated activities including seminars and the Digital Existence III conference to be held in October 2020.
BioMe: Existential Challenges and Ethical Imperatives of Biometric AI in Everyday Lifeworlds
Via the ever-growing role of biometrics within the lifeworld – machine-based measurement and statistical analysis of people's unique physical and behavioral characteristics – artificial intelligence (AI) is already here, at our fingertips. Beyond provoking immediate questions about privacy infringement and security, biometrics nails us to personality types, proclaims ‘risky individuals’, and discerns our desires, value and psychic health, thus evoking even larger existential and ethical questions about human dignity, social prejudice and transparency.
Building on and furthering principal investigator Lagerkvist’s previous accomplishments as a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, including her founding the international research field of existential media studies, this project’s central aim is to investigate the experiential range of encounters with these technologies with a focus on both possibilities as well as challenges and vulnerabilities, in order to scrutinize the pressing ethical imperatives they pose for networked humanity.
By intersecting expertise in media studies, philosophy, law and information systems, BioMe offers an urgently needed, internationally cutting-edge, state-of-the-art humanities approach to AI and how people live with biometrics – examining e.g. smart household assistants (voice recognition), pre-emptive policing (face recognition), health apps and touch screens (sensory data capture).
As an associated partner of Chalmers AI Research Centre we will exchange resources and ideas about how to procure truly beneficial and existentially sustainable AI in workshops on existential virtue ethics of care. Producing a new and topical body of knowledge for and with various stakeholders in society: engineers, NGO’s, policy makers, the business and art worlds, and the international research community, BioMe will answer the call from the EU to think about ethics proactively as part of the design process, but also normatively as part of a broader set of techno-moral virtues for good lives in our time.
The project is part of a national research programme, WASP-HS, which involves a total of SEK 660 million over ten years, initiated by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation and the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation.
The project will run between 2020 and 2024 and consists of five empirical studies and six people:
Study 1: The Biometric Person. Principal investigator, Associate Professor Amanda Lagerkvist.
Study 3: Living with and against voice capture. Dr. Jacek Smolicki.
Study 5:Safety first: Tensions of the smart body. PhD Student Maria Rogg.
Ethics advisor and consultant in our work on an existential virtue ethics of care. Professor Charles M. Ess.
Outreach and collaborative research – Integrative and generative human sciences
The transformations at hand are so momentous that we cannot lock ourselves into different faculties of science and scholarship to address them. We need to work across sectors, traditional scientific and intellectual traditions and epistemic regimes.
As we are an associated partner of CHAIR: Chalmers Artificial Intelligence Centre at Chalmers in Gothenburg, the Hub promises in line with important visions for the future of humanistic knowledge itself (Ekström & Sörlin 2012) to be: (1) generative: taking active part in setting agendas, influencing design processes and building a human-centric and sustainable world of automation; (2) integrative: offering rich and deep understandings of both the histories and future-oriented imagination of contemporary technological developments, as well as the contexts needed for understanding their roles and consequences for people today, and; (3) extroverted: partaking in extensive outreach activities committed to the greater public interest and in collaborative research with various stakeholders.