News and activities
Table of contents:
News and activities at the Uppsala Informatics and Media Hub for Digital Existence.
News and activities 2022
BioMe member Jacek Smolicki won main prize for best artistic research exposition
BioMe member PhD Jacek Smolicki won the main prize from the Society for Artistic Research for the best artistic research exposition in 2021. In “Minuting. Rethinking the Ordinary Through the Ritual of Transversal Listening”, Smolicki explores the history and prospects of field recording and soundwalking practices.
Smolicki’s research is wide and deep with the collection of samples spanning years presenting a compelling premise in the research. The jury was impressed by the quality of the intimate and coherent dialogue between images, text, hypertext and sound in Jacek Smolicki’s exposition. The togetherness of these elements makes the viewer feel like walking into a complex and well-structured landscape. Prize for excellent exposition, Society for Artistic Research.
The exhibition was part of Smolicki’s ongoing international postdoctorate funded by the Swedish Research Council. In the BioMe project, Smolicki explores sonic capture cultures and the impact of AI technologies on human and other-than-human voices.
BioMe is proud to announce that Professor Nick Couldry has joined the scientific advisory board
Nick Couldry is a sociologist of media and culture. He is Professor of Media Communications and Social Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and since 2017 he has been a Faculty Associate at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. He holds two honorary doctorates at Södertörn University, Sweden, and Tampere University, Finland. He has held visiting positions at universities in the USA (including MIT and University of Pennsylvania), Australia, Denmark, France, Holland and Sweden. In the fall of 2017, he was a Visiting Researcher at Microsoft's Research Lab, New England.
He jointly led, with Clemencia Rodriguez, the chapter on media and communications in the 22-chapter 2018 report of the International Panel on Social Progress.
Couldry is the author of more than 150 journal articles and book chapters, and the author or editor of fifteen books including The Mediated Construction of Reality (co-authored with Andreas Hepp, Polity, 2016), Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice (Polity 2012) and Why Voice Matters (Sage 2010). His latest books are The Costs of Connection (co-authored with Ulises Mejias, Stanford University Press, 2019), Media: Why It Matters (Polity, 2019) and Media, Voice, Space and Power (Routledge 2020).
Professor Amanda Lagerkvist participated in the European Media Salon
Digital Existence III: Living with automation – a conference
BioMe member Jenny Eriksson Lundström presents at the Uppsala University of the Third Age on digitalisation and surveillance capitalism
On 8 March 2022, senior lecturer and co-principal investigator of the BioMe team, Jenny Eriksson Lundström will be giving a talk at the Uppsala University of the Third Age (Uppsala Senioruniversitet) under the headline Big Brother sees you. On the digitalisation of society and the surveillance capitalism.
Building on Lundströms expertise and ongoing research, the talk will discuss how digital transformation processes actually work and relate to the individual, organizational and societal. What are the possibilities, risks and existential challenges in the datafied, digitalised, and automatised world emerging? And, who is responsible for a sustainable digital future?
Time and place: Missionskyrkan, Kyrksalen, St Olofsgatan 40, Uppsala, 8 March at 13:15–14:15.
Recent report from the Pew Research Center pulls together world expertise in AI ethics featuring BioMe team member
In the 12th “Future of the Internet” report, Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center have collected a wide array of expert views on the prospects for ethical artificial intelligence (AI) by the year 2030. All together 602 technology innovators and developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists are quoted on their take on the overarching question:
How ethical standards can be defined and applied for a global, cross-cultural, ever-evolving, ever-expanding universe of diverse black-box systems in which bad actors and misinformation thrive?
Among these are Biome member and senior advisor Charles M. Ess, Professor Emeritus at the University of Oslo whose expertise is in information and computing ethics. Like the majority of the experts in the report, professor Ess expresses his worry that the evolution of artificial intelligence by 2030 will continue to be primarily focused on optimising profits and social control. Many also share a concern about the kind of check-box attitude towards ethics commonly found among industry and policy makers, while in fact ethics are hard to define, implement and enforce, and commonly require some form of emotional and contextual human analysis.
In addition to this, Professor Ess points out the efforts in policy and law within the framework of the European Union as the site where he sees most positive prospects for ethical AI regulations, but at the same time recognizes that the union is dependent on China and the US as the main players in the AI race.
Professor Ess is quoted saying, that neither of these players
can be expected to take what might be called ethical leadership. China is at the forefront of exporting the technologies of ‘digital authoritarianism.’ Whatever important cultural caveats may be made about a more collective society finding these technologies of surveillance and control positive as they reward pro-social behaviour – the clash with the foundational assumptions of democracy, including rights to privacy, freedom of expression, etc. is unavoidable and unquestionable.
He goes on:
For its part, the U.S. has a miserable record (at best) of attempting to regulate these technologies – starting with computer law from the 1970s that categorises these companies as carriers, not content providers, and thus not subject to regulation that would include attention to freedom of speech issues, etc. My prediction is that Google and its corporate counterparts in Silicon Valley will continue to successfully argue against any sort of external regulation or imposition of standards for an ethical AI, in the name of having to succeed in the global competition with China. We should perhaps give Google in particular some benefit of the doubt and see how its recent initiatives in the direction of ethical AI in fact play out.
Taken together, the report sheds serious doubt over the prospect of ethical design being broadly adopted as the norm within the next decade.
News and activities 2021
BioMe team member Professor Charles Ess gave keynote presentation at the 2021 Symposium on Intercultural Digital Ethics at Harvard
4 November, Professor Charles Ess, BioMe ethics advisor and consultant, served as the keynote presenter at the 2021 Symposium on Intercultural Digital Ethics, arranged by the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. Aiming to bring together a range of cultural, social and structural perspectives on the ethical issues relating to digital information technologies beyond Western values and interests, Professor Ess was invited to present the conceptual background, current moment and future directions for intercultural digital ethics.
Keynote lecture with Amanda Lagerkvist: Rethinking Responsibility in the Digital Limit Situation
On 12 November 2021 Amanda Lagerkvist will deliver the Keynote Lecture “Rethinking Responsibility in the Digital Limit Situation” at the conference “Rethinking Responsibility: Anthropology – Intergenerational Responsibility – Advanced Technologies” at the Eberhard Karl University of Tübingen, Germany.
On 13 October 2021, the BioMe team participated in a workshop on “Ethics, AI, Technology and Society” at Världskulturmuseet in Gothenburg, organised by the museum together with the Ethics Committee of the Chalmers Artificial Intelligence Research Centre (CHAIR).
Combining interdisciplinary expertise in AI Ethics, Principal Investigator Professor Amanda Lagerkvist was invited to deliver a talk, alongside Professor Barbara Plank of IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark, who spoke about AI ethics from a natural language processing perspective; Professor Devdatt Dubhashi of Chalmers Institute, Sweden, who talked about AI automation and the future of humanity from a computer science perspective; and computer scientist Professor Moshe Vardi of Rice University, USA, talking about “Ethics washing in AI”, a phenomenon that comes with various companies’ intent of making equitable AI that works for everyone.
Amanda Lagerkvist opened up the workshop with the presentation “Body Stakes: Beyond the ‘Ethical Turn’ – Toward An Existential Ethics of Care in Living with Automation”, drawing on joint work within the BioMe project on the ethical implications of biometrics. Throughout her presentation, she prompted the audience to consider what human assets are in fact worthy of protection when we talk about human-centered AI? Who is the human behind the idea of human-centered AI?
This was followed by Professor Dubhasi, who focused on AI automation and the impact on work and human productivity, and discussed the recurring duality between the rising work automation and the displacement of people in search for new jobs, and the possibility of new work opportunities and developments.
Professor Plank thereafter developed on the discussion of racial bias behind machine learning tools, witnessing to the inevitability of mistakes when it comes to machine translation, with examples of computer based translation with unintelligible results.
Lastly, Professor Vardi followed with a discussion on the so-called “ethics-washing” of AI and how there is a corporate agenda and a double standard when it comes to AI regulations.
The workshop ended with a lively conversation between the speakers and the moderator Olle Häggström, Professor of mathematical statistics at Chalmers University of Technology. A main thread of the overall discussion was the responsibility of universities and the need for a collaboration between theoretical academics and scientists, so that there could be a bridging of a gap that is currently hindering a more ethical innovation.
As Professor Dubhasi mentioned in his talk “instead of asking about making everything faster, better and so on, we should ask what is a good life”. What does a good life include or mean when we talk about ethical innovation and ethical AI?
Throughout the fall, Professor Amanda Lagerkvist, together with Professor Teresa Cerratto Pargman, are giving the online seminar series Undisciplined AI Ethics for the WASP-HS programme. The four seminars, created for the WASP-HS graduate school, aim to bring doctoral students, academics, and designers together to share and discuss their understandings and experience of ethics and AI from different perspectives and disciplines.
During the first seminar, coming up 20 October 2021 at 15:00-16:00 CET, Amanda Lagerkvist and Professor Charles Ess from the University of Oslo will give short presentations under the headline Studying Ethics and AI, followed by joint discussions.
The seminar will focus on the following questions in particular:
- How do we conceptualize ethics and technologies to study their meanings and importance in the realm of autonomous systems?
- What approaches do we need to develop to engage with ethics and AI?
The following seminars will be:
Views of ethics & autonomous systems
Date: 10 November 2021 at 15:00-16:00
Speakers: Professor Kia Höök, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Dr Jacek Smolicki, Uppsala University
Ethics + Innovation = True?
Date: 8 December 2021 at 15:00-16:00
Speakers: Virginia Dignum, Umeå University and one more speaker to be decided
Relationships between Law, Ethics & AI
Date: 19 January 2021 at 15:00-16:00
Speakers: Associate Professor Jenny Eriksson Lundström, Uppsala University and Professor Peter Wahlgren, Stockholm University
Seminars on ethics, AI, technology and society: What is the role of humans in a world with ever more powerful AI capabilities?
On 13 October 2021, Professor Amanda Lagerkvist will give a talk at the half-day workshop Ethics, AI, Technology and Society arranged by Världskulturmuseet in Gothenburg together with the Ethics Committee of the Chalmers Artificial Intelligence Research Centre (CHAIR).
Professor Lagerkvist will open the seminar under the headline Body Stakes: Beyond the ‘Ethical Turn’ – Toward An Existential Ethics of Care in Living with Automation, drawing on the ethical work within the BioMe project. Other speakers include Prof. Devdatt Dubhashi from Chalmers, Prof. Barbara Plank from IT University of Copenhagen, and Prof. Moshe Vardi from Rice University, Houston, as well as a panel discussion moderated by Prof. Olle Häggström from Chalmers.
The seminar is open to researchers, decision makers and the general public, and aims to address crucial questions about the role of humans in a world with ever more powerful AI capabilities. In such a future, which decisions can we hand over to machines and which should remain the responsibility of humans? When is the human-in-the-loop a viable concept? Are there domains that should be considered entirely off-limits for AI decision making?
When: 13 October 2021, at 14:00 - 18:00
Where: Världskulturmuseet, Gothenburg
News and activities 2020
DIGMEX Lecture: Mahmoud Keshavarz on the design politics of the passport
As part of its network activities, DIGMEX continuously arranges research lectures with invited speakers on vital topics for our existential perspectives on digitality and automation. We are proud to present Senior Lecturer Mahmoud Keshavarz who will talk about The Design Politics of the Passport, drawing on his recently published book by the same title.
The seminar is a joint venture between the DIGMEX research network and the Department of Informatics and Media and is open to everyone.
New publication from the BioMe research project problematises myths of “the New AI Era” through reclaiming anticipatory media existentially
In a new theoretical essay – Digital Limit Situations: Anticipatory Media Beyond “the New AI Era” –published in a special issue of the Journal of Digital Social Research, entitled “Unpacking the Algorithm: Social Science Perspectives on AI” Amanda Lagerkvist scrutinizes the ‘inevitability myth’ of AI-driven futures, and argues for the necessity of imagining a more inclusive and open future of existential and ecological sustainability for AI design.
Jenny Eriksson Lundström participated in Radio Sweden (SR) Nwhere she was interviewed about Amazon's establishment in Sweden and their use of biometric AI
Ekonomiekot Extra, P1 Sveriges Radio (Radio Sweden), 3 October 2020. Jenny Eriksson Lundström talks during the time 8:00-12:10 and 15:15-18:00 in the broadcast.
New research project to explore the role of AI for the UN’s global sustainability goals (SDGs)
In September 2020, eleven projects have been granted funding from one of Formas’ largest calls to date, for research into the realization of the United Nations’ global sustainability goals. Among these, the project “The Mediated Planet: Claiming Data for Environmental SDGs” received a SEK 20 million grant for exploring the rapid datafication and mediation of the global environment.
The Mediated Planet: Claiming Data for Environmental SDGs project, situated at the Department of History and Philosophy at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm will be led by Dr Sabine Höhler and run between 2020 and 2024.
One of the research team members who will explore the opportunities and risks with our increased reliance on environmental data in light of climate change is Professor Amanda Lagerkvist from the Uppsala Informatics and Media Hub for Digital Existence in the Department of Informatics and Media. The new project thus adds a further dimension to the Hub with a more pronounced focus on environmental humanities and the role of AI for Earth.
The desired outcome of The Mediated Planet is to generate knowledge on how issues of access and use of environmental data, as well as data ownership and AI implementation, can best be navigated and by that to help enhance the democratic potential of the SDGs.
– We have ten years to reach the global sustainability goals, says Ingrid Petersson, CEO of Formas. In this initiative, we have therefore encouraged researchers to both address significant scientific challenges and at the same time act to ensure that research results are used. At the same time, we are advancing the positions for Swedish sustainability research and the Swedish Agenda 2030 work.
BioMe in the media: Who sees you? Interview with Amanda Lagerkvist in ”Forskning och framsteg”
2020-09-24 Face recognition has evolved since the 1960s, but in recent years – with the deep neural network of AI technology – the development has taken a giant step forward.
Amanda Lagerkvist, professor of Media and Communication Studies at Uppsala University, is leading a new interdisciplinary research project, BioMe, on ethical issues around, among other things, facial recognition. She sees great risks to personal integrity.
– The technology is effective and is becoming more and more reliable and useful for good purposes such as quickly identifying criminals, but it can also be used to monitor people. All of us.
She says it is time to ask basic questions about being human in our time with AI and automation.
– The face, as well as the body and the voice, are the center of our unique person and our value. I'm worried that biometric AI could change our view of human dignity. And what opportunities do we have to opt out of being recognised through the face?
Who sees you?, article in the online version of Forskning och framsteg.
2020-09-16 Amanda Lagerkvist has been promoted to full Professor of Media and Communication Studies at Uppsala University
The Vice-chancellor of Uppsala University has promoted Amanda Lagerkvist to full Professor of Media and Communication Studies from 15 September 2020.
“It is humbling”, she says, “and an honor to be given this title at Sweden’s oldest university with such strong traditions, and in a department with such splendid collegial atmosphere.”
Amanda Lagerkvist is a founder of existential media studies. She is the Principal Investigator of the Uppsala Informatics and Media Hub for Digital Existence and has worked as a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Informatics and Media at Uppsala University since 2019.
She was appointed Wallenberg Academy Fellow in 2013 and between 2014 and 2018 she headed the research programme “Existential Terrains: Memory and Meaning in Cultures of Connectivity” at Stockholm University, which researched the existential dimensions of digitalisation both empirically and philosophically. With a particular but not exclusive focus on death online, she and the group developed a theoretical framework, focusing on digital-human vulnerabilities of online mourning, commemoration, and the digital afterlife.
As Professor of Media and Communications Studies at Uppsala University, she aims to take existential media studies in new and urgent directions:
“AI and predictive modelling seem to inevitably fill up the human horizon. Media Studies must approach these developments existentially and critically”, she says. “This means probing how technological infrastructures co-condition our being as well as the lived and diversified experiences of being ‘thrown’ into a technologized lifeworld.”
Lagerkvist also seeks to expand the critical receptiveness of the media studies field: “We also need explore the ethos of automation, in order to ask how these technological developments may be steered responsibly.” Emphasizing both the possibilities and limits of technology, Amanda Lagerkvist promises to keep on raising stubborn existential questions in her new role, also in conversation with those who build the systems: “Can these technologies align with – and/or will they potentially transform – deep-seated existential needs and necessities? Should they? Are there datafied answers to all of life’s issues and problems? Should there be?”
Professor Lagerkvist is heading the research project “BioMe: Existential Challenges and Ethical Imperatives of Biometric AI in Everyday Lifeworlds” (2020-2024) funded by WASP-HS programme. She and the group in Uppsala are now studying AI that is already at our fingertips such as face recognition and smart home assistants: “The BioMe project takes on the challenge” she argues, “to produce philosophically motivated and empirically grounded knowledge about how people already live with automation, as well as about how diversity affects such lived experiences.” The group studies experiences in life and at work, of face and voice recognition, as well as of sensory data capture. The goal is to produce essential knowledge for our societies, Lagerkvist emphasizes, “as they will ultimately have to address these developments both ethically and politically.”
Workshop on artificial intelligence (AI) – participation
2020-04-21 Matilda Tudor, researcher at the Department of Informatics and Media, participated in a workshop on artificial intelligence (AI) and gender equality arranged by Vinnova. The workshop drew together expertise from academia and industry with the central aim to map out possibilities to use AI innovation to help realize the Gender Equality Policy of the Swedish Government.
The workshop will result in a report which will guide Vinnova's future investments in research within this area.
She studies AI as existential media – interview with Amanda Lagerkvist
Sweden needs to take a lead in humanistic and social scientific perspectives on AI – blog post
Into the Air Symposium – participation
2020-01-16--17 Amanda Lagerkvist will be participating in a roundtable discussion at the Into the Air Symposium on January 16-17, 2020, at Carleton University, Canada, which is the 20th anniversary of the publication of the seminal work by John Durham Peters: Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication. Amanda Lagerkvist will be talking about how the book lives on in Existential Media Studies.
News and activities 2019
Amanda Lagerkvist keynote speaker at AI day
2019-11-18 Amanda Lagerkvist keynote speaker at AI day: Between hype and hysteria – AI and the Humanities. Humlab, Umeå University, 18 November. Lagerkvist will introduce the BioMe project in her talk.
Amanda Lagerkvist talks about facial recognition and the BioMe project – podcast
Amanda Lagerkvist will be lecturing at the Oxford Internet Institute Digital Ethics Lab
2019-10-23 Amanda Lagerkvist will be lecturing at the Oxford Internet Institute Digital Ethics Lab, University of Oxford, on October 23. She will present the BioMe project and her partaking in the WASP-HS program in the context of the talk: "Existential Media Studies: Contours of a Field".
Amanda Lagerkvist will be giving a Medea Talk on Existential Media Studies
2019-10-07 Amanda Lagerkvist will be giving a Medea Talk on Existential Media Studies, at Malmö University on October 7
Amanda Lagerkvist has received a grant from MMW within WASP-HS for the project BioMe
Almedalen: Hisnande teknikutveckling med AI och IoT, hinner människa och samhälle med i svängarna – Amanda Lagerkvist participated
2019-07-02 Amanda Lagerkvist participated in Almedalen: Hisnande teknikutveckling med AI och IoT, hinner människa och samhälle med i svängarna?