Bald, and with a pretty face, the robot Sophia came into our lives. Derived from science fiction literature, films and theatre (R.U.R robot of Čapek), humanoids are now a reality. By mimicking the gestures, behaviour, the way of speaking and interactions of humans, robots, androids, cyborgs, avatars as avant-garde of technology still cause surprise and evoke uncanny reactions.
They have deep roots in ancient self-moving and self-sustaining manufactured objects, between the empirical and the theatrical called the automata. Standing at the intersection of natural knowledge, simulation, ludic play and technology, between art, spectacle and nature, since Antiquity, these rare devices were mechanical marvels presented and digressed in public buildings, theatres, exhibitions and fairs, science academies and plazas, as well as in private gardens.
Both automata and humanoid robots, including intelligent machines are at the core of the intersection between culture and nature, between science, technology and art. Stemming from the perspective of the history and philosophy of science and technology, this workshop seeks to promote the debate these devices give rise to in our society and the challenges they pose to our future.
The Interuniversity Centre of History of Science and Technology and the Centre for Philosophy of Sciences (within the research line Philosophy of Human Technology) are organising a workshop dedicated to the study of these artefacts and their impact on human self-understanding. This interdisciplinary meeting aims to build historical knowledge and philosophical reflection on automata, robots, androids, including avatars, cyborgs, and the reflection of the human technological condition based on the contribution of various experts from Arts and the Humanities to Science and Technology. Furthermore, it aims to establish bridges between the past, the present and the future.
Potential contributors are invited to submit a paper on the following topics:
- Automata (especially in gardens)
- Sophia and other similar androids in public space
- The perception and staging of automata and robots
- Avatars and contemporary “doubles” and avatar human encounters
- The role of hyperrealism in shaping androids and virtual environments.
- The human technological condition in a world of robots, Avatars, AI Agents
- Performing intelligent machines and smart toys: historical and intercultural differences
- Philosophy of technology of automata, robots, avatars and AI agents: fictions, alterity, sociality, aesthetics, make-belief, autonomy, responsibility and RRI issues
- Ludification strategies of play with avatars, robots and automata
- Human-automaton hybrids