Automation and Process: Differentiating
the “Cognitive Share” in Contemporary
Cognitive Assemblages

June 30 - July 3, 2020
10.00 am - 12.00 pm

My seminar will explore recent developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning both philosophically and empirically. Focusing on two contemporary cognitive assemblages – self-driving cars and military swarming drones – that combine computational and human cognitive skills, the seminar will raise questions about a host of issues: about intelligence (what is meant by artificial intelligence and how does it relate to and differ from biological forms of intelligence, including human intelligence?); about sovereign decision making (can machines make decisions, even lethal decisions, and what would it mean for us to judge them capable of doing [or not doing] so?); about ethics (can machines operate ethically and what is entailed in any judgment about this question?); about contingency (can and how can machines process contingency?); and finally, about the human itself (what is the human’s role in cognitive assemblages that seem ever-increasingly to minimize, or at least to desire the minimization of, any human footprints?). The focus on these two case studies will provide opportunities to specify how cognitive operations are shared between humans and machines in contemporary cognitive assemblages, and to ask and begin to answer important political questions about how humans can best guide and shape the development of the cognitive assemblages in which they participate, together with cognitively kindred (though operationally quite distinct) computational machines

Mark B.N. Hansen is James B. Duke Professor of Literature and Professor in the Program in Computational Media Arts & Cultures and in the Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies at Duke University. Having studied Comparative and French Literature at New York University and the University of California Irvine, Hansen held a Fulbright Full Scholarship at the University of Konstanz, Germany, in 1990 and 1991. In 1994, he received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of California. Hansen worked as Assistant Professor of English (tenure-track) at Southwest Texas State University (1994-1997) and at Princeton University (1997-2004), where he received tenure and served as Associate Professor from 2004-2005. In 2004 he published New Philosophy or New Media. From 2005 to 2008, Hansen was Professor of English, Visual Arts and Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. During this period, he published Bodies in Code: Interfaces in Digital Media, a study on the effects of the cyberspace on the civilization predicting an increasing virtualization of the human being, which won the Ars Electronica Book Prize in 2008. Recent Fellowships include a fellowship at the National Humanities Center and a fellow at the IKKM, Bauhaus University in Weimar. In 2015 he published Feed-Forward: On the Future of Twenty-First Century Media, a study of media on the basis of a transformational reading of A. N. Whitehead’s process philosophy.