6.7 million Danish kroner granted from the VELUX FOUNDATION to a project on The Aesthetics of Bio-Machines and the Question of Life
What constitutes life? Today we are surrounded by life-like digital technologies such as virtual assistants, generative computer systems, and adaptive robots. These new digital technologies represent a form of life and coexist closely with us. They raise the question whether we can consider them "alive" and how we, as humans, coexist with these life-forms.
Professor Kathrin Maurer from the Department of Language, Culture, History, and Communication at the University of Southern Denmark and Associate Professor Kristin Veel from the Department of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen have received a 6.7 million DKK grant from the Velux Foundation.
While physicists, engineers, and biologists discuss "life 3.0" in relation to self-learning artificial intelligence, the researchers behind the project "Aesthetics of Bio-Machines and the Question of Life" aim to conceptualize digital technologies that simulate life and explore this field from a humanistic and aesthetic perspective.
The researchers argue that the qualities that make "life 3.0" resemble biological life should be understood by examining how they mimic the ability of biological life to sense the surrounding world. The project examines these "life-forms" from an aesthetic perspective, focusing on the technologies' ability to perceive the world and the way they are portrayed in literature, film, and other art forms.
The project's focus lies at the intersection of humans and machines, and it investigates the dependencies and symbioses involved in the act of sensing.
Humanistic perspectives, which form the foundation of the project, can contextualize current technological developments within historical frameworks and theoretical debates, offering new insights into the ethical, cultural, and societal implications of bio-machines for humanity and providing new perspectives on what constitutes life.Examining the status of machines and exploring new inclusive and diverse concepts of what it means to be alive is not only a philosophical task but also an ethical responsibility.
Meet the researcher
Professor mso Kathrin Maurer is a researcher at The Department of Language, Culture, History and Communication.