News and activities

Table of contents:

News and activities at the Uppsala Informatics and Media Hub for Digital Existence

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.

DIGMEX Lecture: Mahmoud Keshavarz on the design politics of the passport – seminar details and abstract

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.

New publication problematizes myths of the New AI Era

Interview in SR: Jenny Eriksson Lundström talks about Amazon and use of biometric AI

Jenny Eriksson Lundström participated in Radio Sweden (SR) where 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.

Swedish scientists pave the way for achieving the sustainable development goals, news item about the granted funding at Formas’ website.

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.

Amanda Lagerkvist – full Professor at Uppsala University

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.”

BioMe’s new PhD student will study the ethos of biohackers

2020-09-16 Interview with the research project BioMe's new PhD student Maria Rogg - she will study the ethos of biohackers.

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

2020-04-21  Interview with Amanda Lagerkvist: She studies AI as existential media

Sweden needs to take a lead in humanistic and social scientific perspectives on AI – blog post

2020-03-08  Blog post by Amanda Lagerkvist at the WASP-HS web: Sweden needs to take a lead in humanistic and social scientific perspectives on AI

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

2019-10-25  Amanda Lagerkvist talks about facial recognition and the BioMe project in the podcast Ny Teknik.

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

2019-09-12  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?