Outreach and collaborative research

The Human Observatory for digital Existence is a platform for collaborative research within the framework of The Uppsala Informatics and Media Hub for Digital Existence with the aim to oversee the human condition in a time of dramatic technological development.

With the main partner the Sigtuna Foundation as a base, the hub’s researchers meet various civil society representatives and NGOs, organisations, institutions, individuals and authorities. These cross-border meetings aim to identify and explore burning questions for our time of complex crises, where media technologies play many different roles with both utopian and dystopian undertones. What happens to human concerns when technological rationalities are allowed to rule? How should we think about our vulnerability and mortality in an age where bodily presence is becoming less and less relevant? What are the inalienable values that we want to preserve, defend and perhaps strengthen? And how can we responsibly create an existentially sustainable future with machines?

The Human Observatory is designed to enable:

  1. a continued conversation about these issues with our reference group of stakeholders and other partners in society and academia (such as CHAIR);
  2. workshops on digital media ethics
  3. symposia in collaboration with society and the art and museum world on existential themes, possibilities and challenges of digital media saturation and the automation of the human lifeworld.

Stakeholders of the Hub and Observatory include representatives from the public, business and non-profit sector, public authorities, the Church of Sweden and public intellectuals.

Upcoming events

The digital noise: Conversation and silence as existential method

In 2023, the Human Observatory for Digital Existence will organise public activities on the theme The digital noise: conversation and silence as existential method.

On 19 January 2023, the Human Observatory and the Nobel Museum are co-arranging an open lecture by Archbishop emerita Antje Jackelén, which concludes the exhibition Eternal Life at Liljevalchs. The exhibition examines both scientific discoveries and existential questions and moves associatively between art, science and cultural history with the aim of providing different perspectives on our lives.

Inspiration is taken from the Nobel Prize, and the discoveries, works and peace efforts that give us inalienable perspectives on our lives and our future. Among other things, the exhibition features an AI chatbot that visitors can interact with. The idea is to create a friendly and philosophical conversation with the visitors that focuses on the theme of the exhibition. The chatbot's personality is inspired by the character Klara from Kazou Ishiguro's book Klara and the Sun. This is a collaboration with AI Sweden and Magnus Sahlgren's team.

The lecture is entitled “Is the conversation possible? AI and communication about eternal issues”. It is followed by a conversation between Antje Jackelén, Magnus Sahlgren from AI Sweden, and Amanda Lagerkvist, Professor of Media and Communication Studies at Uppsala University. The conversation will, among other things, be about what being human means and where it is developing in a world of digitisation. Is conversation possible – not just because of the logic, affection and conversational pitch of social media, but also because machines are increasingly talking directly to each other? What is contained in human language in relation to the development of AI and language models? Can a machine have an existential conversation? Are language and its codes also the codes of the human? What happens when the machine has to teach us to talk about the eternal, and about being human in the world?

Is the conversation possible? AI and communication on eternal issues – more information and registration at the Nobel Prize Museum web.

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Last modified: 2022-09-22