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 projects related till the Uppsala Informatics and Media Hub for Digital Existence.
The BioMe project is part of the national research programme WASP-HS
Output and Publications in Existential Media Studies
Publications from the research project BioMe, new and forthcoming output in existential media studies, earlier publications within the Existential Terrains Programme as well as related work and engagement with existential media studies. Keep updated on output and publications in existential media studies.
Digital Existence III: Living with automation
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 31 May – 1 June 2022.
News and activities
DIGMEX research network
The DIGMEX research network for the study of digital media and existential issues and challenges.
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.
Existential Media: A Media Theory of the Limit Situation
In her new book Amanda Lagerkvist:
- Offers an introduction to existential media studies and its key concerns
- Revisits what it means to be human in all our diversity and in our common humanity in the digital age
- Reframes death online research by offering a theoretical framework of existential media studies
- Remaps media/digital culture/AI in light of existential philosophy's key themes and concepts
- Reconceives media as an existential terrain that needs to be navigated and of media users as coexisting beings
“Amanda Lagerkvist, an established scholar of media, memory and global urban landscapes, in this book breaks radical new ground, both for herself and for the whole field of media and communications research. Reflecting deeply not just on the inheritance of existentialist philosophy, but on the contemporary crises of climate change, datafication and the global pandemic, Lagerkvist's writing is fresh, precise and impassioned: this book urgently needs to be read.” Nick Couldry, London School of Economics and Political Science
“We live through media and always have. Yet rarely do scholars take the courageous and risky approach of Lagerkvist in explaining what media do to how we understand our own existence. If Sartre were to write about existentialism today, this is how he would write – or rather, he might wish HE had written this. A deep and original account of how we through media, come closer to and push away from the limits of human existence.” Zizi Papacharissi, University of Illinois-Chicago
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 face recognition technology in cooperation with Visage Technologies. What can your face reveal about you? Will you be recognized? What kind of power dynamics could possible be luring behind the neutral looking façade of the screen? As part of the Hyper Human Exhibition, the installation aims to provoke ethical discussion and concern about our increasing reliance on and exposure to biometric AI in everyday living.
Hyper Human is shown from 21 March 2020 and until further notice.
Amanda Lagerkvist, Professor of Media and Communication Studies in the Department of Informatics and Media, is Principal Investigator of the Hub and Chair or the DIGMEX network.
Matilda Tudor, PhD and researcher in the Department of Informatics and Media, is coordinator of the hub and the main coordinator of the DIGMEX network and its associated activities.
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, Professor Amanda Lagerkvist.
Study 3: Living with and against voice capture. PhD Jacek Smolicki.
Study 5: Twists of the smart body. Biohacking as existential practice. 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
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.