EASST4S 2020 Virtual (Prague) Conference Program

Locating and Timing Matters:
Significance and Agency of STS in Emerging Worlds


Postphenomenology and the Built Environment

Fri, August 21, 6:00 to 7:40pm CEST (12:00 to 1:40pm EDT), virPrague, VR 21

The built environment—the objects and devices and architectures that make up our human-made surroundings—shapes our lives in a multitude of ways. In this session, we take up ideas from the postphenomenological perspective to draw out and analyze these dynamics. This perspective enables distinctive contributions in the study of the multiple non-innocent ways that our lives are mediated by architectural technology. In our first paper, Lars Botin explores how postphenomenological notions of multistability and mediation can be used to cultivate sustainable and responsible development practices in urban spaces. Inger Berling Hyams also takes up the postphenomenological notion of multistability, and she uses it to develop an account of power in urban space, one that manages to remain situational and non-totalizing. In our third paper, Stanley C. Kranc takes up this notion as well and considers how our infrastructure, and water infrastructure in particular (such as in the Flint, Michigan case), can take on a backgrounded place within our experience. Søren Riis, in our fourth paper, builds on Martin Heidegger’s ideas to explore the kinds of lives made possible by smart home technologies. And in the final paper of this session, Robert Rosenberger considers the case of public-space security cameras and, using ideas from postphenomenology and actor-network theory, explores their potential to take part in “hostile” strategies that target vulnerable populations.

Postphenomenology and the Mediated Self
Fri, August 21, 3:00 to 4:40pm CEST (9:00 to 10:40am EDT), virPrague, VR 21Abstract
Technological mediation is often conceived in terms of the translations and transformations made by a device as it comes between a user and the world. But how should we conceive of cases in which technologies mediate the relationship human users have with themselves? With its framework of concepts for articulating human-technology relations, work in the postphenomenological perspective has the potential to make distinctive contributions to the study of our bodies and our lives as they are mediated by our devices. Here we consider these issues in terms of a variety of technologies, including laboratory imaging, social media, and self-tracking devices, explored through both philosophical and ethnographic analyses. In her contribution to this panel, Anette Forss shares her ethnographic work in Swedish cytology laboratories, with implications for our understanding of scientific hermeneutics and medical education. In our second paper, Stacey Irwin performs a postphenomenological analysis of endoscopy, exploring the hermeneutics of this video readout of the interior spaces of the human body. The third and fourth papers are on the topic of self-tracking devices. In the first of these two, Dorthe Brogård Kristensen, Signe Banke, and Alev Kuruoglu perform an ethnography of fitness self-tracking in Denmark. In the second, Elise Zheng considers the self-surveillance implications of self-tracking fitness apps. And in our fifth paper, Olya Kudina considers the mediation of social media upon our digital memories.

Postphenomenology and Computing: AI, Robotics, and the Digital

Fri, August 21, 12:00 to 1:40pm CEST (6:00 to 7:40am EDT), virPrague, VR 21

Our world is experiencing rapid technological change in the form of digital technologies, big data, robotics, and artificial intelligence. In this panel, we bring together ideas from the postphenomenological school of thought to help address these changes. With its framework of concepts for approaching human-technology relations, postphenomenology can make distinct contributions to our understanding of complex computer mediation. In our first paper in this session, Cathrine Hasse explores the role of materiality in human relations to robots in light of her empirical studies of user-robot relations. Our second paper, by Ciano Ayden, considers what it would mean to critically engage with artificial intelligence as it increasingly comes to shape the world we encounter. Esther Keymolen uses as Ricoeurian notion of “emplotment” as a way to come to terms with the kinds of changes AI may bring, and to analyze the stories we tell about it, before this technology becomes a part of our everyday worlds. In our fourth paper, Shoji Nagataki examines the nature of digital technology, taking up ideas from McLuhan’s media theory to contrast e-reading and physical books, and to better get to the bottom of the embodiment of digital communication. And, finally, Galit Wellner explores the normative dimensions of AI, uses postphenomenology to track how human intentionalities become built into algorithms, and develops prescriptions for mapping stakeholders and avoiding AI biases.


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