CONF: Care and Machines, University of Manchester, 20th-21st October 2017

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    EC8HFW St. Petersburg, Russia. 10th Dec, 2014. RoboThespian life-sized humanoid robot designed by Engineered Arts Ltd at the opening of the 3rd Museum Photobiennale of Modern Photography at the Russian Museum's Marble Palace in St Petersburg. Credit: Ruslan Shamukov/TASS/Alamy Live News

    We live with machines. This has become obvious in contexts as diverse as medicine, education, military, leisure, food, and industry, where we form a range of complex relationships with technologies. By bringing researchers and practitioners from these contexts together, this conference invites reflection on practices of care that are developed and challenged between humans and machines, as well as other ‘nonhuman’ groups.

    Machines with ever-advanced capabilities are now being developed and deployed to provide companionship and treatment for elderly people, as well as young children with autism and other conditions; they are being sent out to battlefields and hostile terrains to locate mines, patrol borders, and provide defence; and they have been outperforming humans in mass-scale industrial operations for many years now, replacing human labour in a number of processes. The increasing agency of machines, as well as efforts to increase their autonomy, may challenge the assumption that machines are inert tools, as they participate in increasingly complex relationships with humans.

    Such relationships can be characterised or promoted by appeals to the notion of ‘care’, but critical reflection on this is needed in order to ascertain the assumptions behind the use of this term, as well as the issues that it raises as part of our engagement with machines.

    More details of the event can be found at the website: http://lincolntheologicalinstitute.com/care-and-machines. There is also a link to register on the website (registration closes on the 10th October).