Nature of the ExperimentExport this event to calendar

Monday, April 8, 2019 (all day)

Beakers with plantsTHE NATURE OF EXPERIMENT: INTELLIGENCE, LIFE, AND THE HUMAN

Mary Shelley’s famous invocation of human experimentation gone wrong is 200 years old, but remains as vibrant an analysis of the human implication of scientific insight as it did when it was first published; perhaps more so in an age on the verge of breakthroughs in both AI and bioengineering.  This conference will approach the intersections of intelligence, life, and the human from a unique perspective, through the concept and practice of the “experiment,” both today and in the past.

Since the incorporation of the Royal Society in the 1660s, the experiment has been a central locus of both knowledge creation and design in our cultures and societies.  Poets, engineers, scholars, entrepreneurs, and scientists all conduct experiments, and have done so for centuries.  Today, experiment embraces information and data in new ways to create a host of new devices and vehicles.  In this era of emerging AI, it is timely to ask practitioners in all these fields to reflect on what it means to “experiment.”

Keynote Speaker: Jocelyn Holland (Comparative Literature, CalTech)

Schedule: TBD (check back soon)

Questions and issues to be considered:

  • What is an experiment?  
  • What are the consequences of experimentation? 
  •  Why does Shelley’s warning text resonate today, and in what areas of life does it resonate, and why?  
  • How has experimentation changed since Shelley’s day?  
  • What are the new zones of experiment (for example, in the use of information and data in the creation of “intelligence” in autonomous vehicles)?  
  • How is social media feeding into new forms of “intelligence”?  
  • What are the philosophical grounds of experimentation?  
  • What are the ethics of experimentation?  
  • At the root of the meaning of experiment is the concept of experience: how is experience experimental?  
  • How is experiment experiential?  And along with experience, experiment invokes the idea of creation or invention.  Creators are celebrated.  But the creator in Frankenstein is cursed.  Are all experimenters potentially “cursed progenitors”?  Is invention always good?  Is invention always human?
 

  Jocelyn HollandJocelyn Holland           

 
 

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