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Sophie Wennerscheid & Bram Vanderborght: the science & fiction of human/robot relationships

Tuesday, 7 November, 2017 - 18:00 to Tuesday, 7 November, 2017 - 20:00
Koolmijnenkaai 30 - 1080 Brussel
Redelijk Eigenzinnig / Reason and Engage (VUB)

Redelijk Eigenzinnig / Reason and Engage (VUB) is an interdisciplinary course for students and a series of lectures and activities open to all. The third edition of Redelijk Eigenzinnig / Reason and Engage (VUB) explores scopes and impact of new technologies.

On Tuesday 7th of November 2017 Redelijk Eigenzinnig / Reason and Engage (VUB) invites Sophie Wennerscheid & Bram Vanderborght for their lecture <The science & fiction of human/robot relationships>.

Abstract: In this lecture Sophie Wennerscheid will explore the impact of technological developments on practices of love and sexuality at the beginning of what might be called our ‘posthuman age’. As some of these new forms of ‘posthuman desire’ also include (at least theoretically) sex with robots, they are viewed by the majority of our society as deviating from what is ‘normal and natural’ and therefore as highly questionable or even illegitimate. In two fields however, in robotics and in science fiction, intimate relationships between humans and humanlike robots, are presented as something highly desirable or at least fascinating. In her talk, Prof. Wennerscheid wants to discuss the different arguments for and against ‘robotsex’ and to envision a possible alternative way to understand and even affirm the emergence of ‘new networks of desire’, based on our relationships with the ‘technological other’.  As an introduction Bram Vanderborght will give a state of the art on research dealing with human-robot collaboration. Several examples will illustrate how scientitsts and engineers develop and investigate a new generation of robots that are capable to socially interact with humans.

Sophie Wennerscheid is professor of Scandinavian Literature at Ghent University. She teaches courses on contemporary Scandinavian literature and film, Swedish migration and minority literature/multilingualism and gender and family studies. Her main research areas are intersections of literature and film with other discourses, such as gender and sexuality studies, theories of identity and alterity and science and technology studies/critical posthumanism. Her current research project is focused on the impact of technology on intimate relationships, man machine-interactions and posthuman desire.

Bram Vanderborght is appointed as professor at the VUB and member of the Brussels Human Robotics Research Center (www.brubotics.eu). His research interests include cognitive and physical human robot interaction with core technology of using variable impedance actuators in applications for health and manufacturing like humanoids, exoskeletons, prostheses, social robots and cobots. He is the current EiC of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine.

This event takes place at iMAL (Koolmijnenkaai 30 - 1080 Brussel) from 6PM to 8PM.

The lecture will be in English. Entrance is free.

More information: http://www.redelijkeigenzinnig.be

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