COMPUTATIONAL CREATIVITY Guest Editor: Anna Longo Artistic creation and aesthetic evaluationRead More
Guest Editor: Anna Longo
Artistic creation and aesthetic evaluation are traditionally considered as faculties that differentiate human thinking from machine operations. However, recent developments in computer science and artificial intelligence seem to have challenged the assumption that machines are incapable of expressing creative behaviours.
Recent advancements in AI and machine learning have led to the production of systems that exhibit creative behaviour: they are able to find unpredictable, original and valuable solutions to given problems. These programs have been successfully applied to produce images, pieces of music and texts that are appealing for humans and that are uneasily distinguished from artworks created by human artists. Software used for generating music, artistic images, literature and poetry computationally, has motivated a research field called Computational Creativity. This multidisciplinary enquiry aims to model, simulate or replicate human creativity by using computers. It seeks to understand the cognitive mechanism that allows humans to introduce unexpected and valuable innovations to artificially generate outputs comparable to them. Important results have been obtained to support the thesis that machines can be creative. Moreover, research in Computational Creativity is concerned with analysing the criteria of human appreciation in terms of patterns in order to program systems that are capable of evaluating cultural products. For example, algorithms are now used to efficiently rank movies, musical pieces and images, appearing to recognize features that make these works valuable.
Research on Computational Creativity is, therefore, providing a better understanding of the processes of learning that allow humans to evolve their knowledge and practices in a surprising and unpredictable way, but they also seem to dismiss the idea that humans can actually think outside a computationally reproducible procedure. To this regard, we can consider philosophers like Heidegger, Deleuze or Lyotard who refuse to include artistic creation in the set of technologically produced novelties: art is the result of an activity that testifies the thinker’s freedom from the learning procedure suitable for obtaining pragmatically valuable patterns of information. Hence, Computational Creativity seems to contradict the philosophical assumption that artistic creation is a form of resistance against the control that operates through information technologies or a practice that reveals the excess of thinking over scientific reasoning.
Can we accept that machines are creative not only like human agents confronted with daily problem solving but also like artists? Are computers able to determine the aesthetic value of cultural products to create digital objects that assume to produce the same cognitive responses that are occasioned by human artists’ artworks? Can we think of a reconciliation of philosophical aesthetics and computational creativity? Or do we have to rethink the very notion of aesthetic knowledge?
This issue aims to explore Computational Creativity by analysing its machinic productions, but also the way in which contemporary human artists employ algorithmic and AI in their own works. Moreover, it invites us to rethink the notion of aesthetics by accepting the challenge that Computational Creativity poses to traditional anthropocentric views on artistic creation and evaluation.
We invite contributions in the form of academic articles from across disciplines. The average required length of a contribution is 5,000 words (bibliography and foot notes excluded), accompanied by an abstract. Interested contributors please send 300–500-word abstracts and a short 100-word biography to the editor (firstname.lastname@example.org) before December 30th 2022. As for the house style of formatting, please follow the Technophany submission guidelines, where a word template for articles can be found: http://journal.philosophyandtechnology.network/submission-guidelines/
Abstract due 30 December 2022
Abstract acceptance 1 February 2023
First draft chapters due 1 October 2023
publication May 2024
Editors: Joel White and Gerald Moore
Scope and Invitation for Contributions:
Many of the world’s current politico-ecological crises derive from a generalised anthropogenic acceleration in the rate of terrestrial entropization, what Bernard Stiegler calls the Entropocene. Global warming originates from an increase in the entropic combustion of fossil fuels (Rifkin, Stiegler, New Daggett); the global decrease in biodiversity correlates to an increase in entropic statistical disorder at the level of species interactions (Montévil); and information overloading (Wellmon), caused by the proliferation of information technologies, has increased the amount of informational entropy, resulting in the rise of misinformation, disinformation, uncertainty and conspiracy theories (Floridi). In light of these crises, critical reflection regarding entropy’s theoretical and practical significance has become necessary. Technophany invites contributions to this special issue on all conceptions of entropy be they classical thermodynamic, statistical mechanical, informational, biological, economic, noetic or otherwise with the aim of opening reflection as wide as possible regarding this problematic concept (in the Kantian sense). If we are to respond successfully to the Entropocene, which could only ever mean slowing down the production of entropy and never negating it, then this reflection must also be free from axiological prejudice, taking into account entropy’s often-paradoxical but necessary status as the dissipative condition of possibility of many of the systems that life depends on.
Coined by Rudolf Clausius in 1865, classical thermodynamic entropy not only quantifies how much internal energy has been transformed into work through the equalization of system temperatures (Joules per Kelvin), but it also describes an as-yet unviolated physical law. As Thomson and Helmholtz stated, the irreversible nature of thermodynamic entropy entails unavoidable cosmological consequences where energetic systems, including living, cognitive, technical and social systems, will finally come to an eternal stand still (“heat death”). Early philosophical reflections by thinkers such as Nietzsche, Engels and Bergson often dealt with these more metaphysical questions. And these demand again our attention. For if we are to truly understand the Entropocene, then we must seek to grasp the reality of entropy’s inevitable meanings no matter how unpalatable. Indeed, while, epistemologically, Boltzmann’s statistical mechanics changed thermodynamic entropy’s juridical status—thermodynamic entropy could now be explained by the probable microscopic distribution of particle velocities—Boltzmann was under no illusion that the universal increase in entropy could, in practice, be violated, nor that it should be. It was Boltzmann, after all, that first proposed entropy as a principle of biological adaptation stating that the struggle for existence was itself a struggle for entropy (a notion furthered by Lotka and Odum). And the same could be said of informational entropy, as developed by Claude Shannon in 1948. Even though informational entropy does not explicitly measure energy dissipation but the certainty of one event following another given what is known about the information content of a particular source, it also measures complexity and noise. And similar to thermodynamic entropy, noise and complexity instead of being purely destructive often function as the condition of evolutionary change.
As well as proposing the notion of the Entropocene, Stiegler offers the hypothesis that the conceptual consequences of entropy have yet to be integrated into philosophy. Akin to Isabelle Stengers and Ilya Prigogine’s arguments from Order out of Chaos, this amounts to arguing that philosophy remains stuck in an 18th century Newtonian framework where entropy is absent. The consequence is that philosophy remains conceptually ill-equipped to deal with the pressing issues of the Entropocene. The articles collected will, therefore, be of a broad nature, reflective of entropy’s conceptual plurality and import. The aim is also not to determine what entropy is—whether quantitively or qualitatively—but to consider how this equivocal concept—that is at once the condition of possibility and impossibility of the systems we depend on—problematises our relation to fundamental phenomena such as life and death on earth, climate change, technology, time, chance, information and noise, thought itself and the cosmos at large.
We invite contributions in the form of academic articles from across disciplines. The average required length of a contribution is 6,000 words, accompanied by a abstract. Interested contributors please send 300–500-word abstracts and a short 100-word biography to the editors (email@example.com) before October 30th 2022. As for the house style of formatting, please follow the Technophany submission guidelines, where a word template for articles can be found: http://journal.philosophyandtechnology.network/submission-guidelines/
Abstracts due – 30th October, 2022
First draft chapters due – 15th March, 2023
Publication – Fall 2023
Technē and Feminism
Special Issue of Technophany, Edited by Katerina Kolozova and Vera Bühlmann
Scope and Invitation for Contributions:
Feminism has a strong tradition of entrusting its prospects for the emancipation of women to technological innovation and development. Ranging from women’s ‘access to history’ as a means of liberation from ‘biological fate,’ as discussed by Simone de Beauvoir, to Donna Haraway’s ‘cyborg’, which is considered as a figure of emancipation. This stance toward technology has been shared by many, Shulamith Firestone and Sylvia Wynter being two further examples. In the context of the more recent trends in new feminist materialisms and realisms, technology and scientific inquiry have taken on a prominent new role in expanding the epistemic horizon for feminist thought, but without directly and explicitly tackling some of the pressing philosophical and political issues such as reproductive rights or gender subjectivation. On the one hand, the ‘affinity of nature and technology’ has been a recurring theme in this specific feminist engagement with technology (Haraway, Braidotti). On the other hand, identity politics related theories (in particular, within the poststructuralist paradigm) have rarely explored the subject of technology except as an appendage to the discourse on the politics of emancipation. These conceptualizations need to be reviewed, especially if the post-nineties’ celebration of cyber-theory and conceptions of reality as an occasion for self-reinvention and redefinition are taken into account.
How should we respond to the new scopes of power that techno-scientific developments have brought forth, when traditional domains of abstraction are conquered by the application of information theory and quantum mechanics in the cognitive and life sciences? How are we to establish a dialogue between the humanities and the sciences without thereby repeating narratives of evolutionary ‘next steps’ in a progress-historical or naturalised manner?
Furthermore, this issue is interested in problematising the limits of poststructuralist subject-centred approaches with respect to these new scopes of power. Is there not implicated in mastering the ‘the technicalities’ at work in current technology another kind of ‘objectivity’? Can we think of notions of objectivity that are not in a dualist polarity with notions of subjectivity, notions that are more actively, more spectrally and gradually, entangled with one another? How are we to approach the works of feminist scholars like Karen Barad, Donna Haraway, Rosi Braidotti and Katherine Hayles along the proposed line of critique or questioning? Does Cary Wolf’s proposal, that the posthumanism proposed by some of the above authors ends up as a transhumanism even if only inadvertently, remain correct? Furthermore, how are we to think of the ‘rationalism’ brought forward by Xenofeminism with respect to these concerns?
How may it be possible to think of empowerment in a way that does not revolve around an individual’s subject position, one which can be chosen through one’s own free will – the liberal idea of ‘choice’ implied – and which can be declared as such and such by virtue of a presumably fully sovereign selfhood. How are we to acknowledge the limits of the so called ‘subjectively empowering reality’, which sometimes if not most of the time is blind to its material reality? Especially: how to think of the categorical status of ‘active materiality’ that is at work in technology through a feminist optics? In the poststructuralist paradigm, technology has often served the role of a superior tool, one able to assume a ‘life of its own’ or institute itself as a quasi-subjectivity. In Haraway’s tradition it has been treated as prosthesis always already hybridized with the human whose emancipatory role is not contemplated beyond what Beauvoir or Firestone considered most relevant in the emancipatory struggles – the clutches of nature.
This issue of Technophany would like to raise the question of whether and how second wave feminism’s use of the notion of technology may have been premised on a specific treatment of nature, and also whether and how poststructuralist feminism may not still be perpetuating the somatophobia so present in Western rational thought, as discussed in Irigaray’s Speculum of the Other Woman? If we still find nested, in the Xenofeminst celebration of ‘alienation ’and in their proposal of a rationalist feminism, an overcoming of ‘biological fate’ – then is this not just the same old Cartesian divide once again at work? Or to put it differently: what would be a feminist-materialist engagement with nature and its rationality? Our interest hereby concerns not so much the evaluative discussion of particular positions, but a systematic blind spot that often seems to be at work in how feminism engages with technology. Just how exactly are contemporary feminist materialisms actually materialist, if they fall prey to the urge to subjectivize matter and technology mainly in the registers of individualist emancipation, to perpetuate subjectivity-centred thinking in their epistemological approaches, and thus continue involving anthropocentrism even when claiming to do the exact opposite?
Next to these general questions, we would like to invite the authors to approach the following subject matters more specifically:
- Problem area 1: We would like to revisit the Marxian concept of ‘means of production’ in an era of automated labour. If not by seizing the means of production – by what other method could a supposed socialist feminist change of system be possible at all? We are interested in asking the question of the categorical status of the means of production, how and if they can be subjectivized; we are also interested in the dialectics of object-subject relations with respect to this both as a question of method and of ontology. With interests like these, it seems important to revisit Marx’s original discussion of the concept, as well as the Marxist legacy, in order to examine its possible reconceptualizations against the backdrop of 21st century digital ecosystems and their ‘socio-ontological’ status today.
- Problem area 2: With the above outlined overall interest in technology not only in terms of objective agents or formal actants, but also as endowed with subjective agency or material activity, we would like to revisit also ancient philosophy and the notion of technē as art and craft therein; how does the relation between technics and women feature in classical philosophy or in thought at the origin of Western rationalism? Is there perhaps a yet unheard-of voice to be sounded by rationalist philosophy in mythical persona like Pythia, a voice that speaks in tongues countering somatophobic articulations? If purging of the apparently inextricable link between rationalism and somatophobia were possible, could we learn to recognize a new kind of somatophilic rationality? Extending on these speculations and interests, we would like to invite revisiting Irigaray’s Speculum, and its discussion of Plato’s hystera (cave); let us revisit Irigaray here not only as a psychoanalyst but also as a Marxist feminist, let us think about her proposed reversal of the subject-object dialectics through a feminist take on metaphysics that attempts to come to terms with an optics of what we could better call ‘diffractive screening’ rather than ‘authorship’; what would be at stake here is coming to terms with an optics that strokes unheard of spectral (information technological) scales that are yet to be sounded in new materialist keys.
We invite contributions in the form of academic articles from across disciplines, in particular those departing from the stance of deep, integrative interdisciplinarity. The average required length of a contribution is 6000 words, accompanied by a 200-word abstract. Interested contributors please send their abstracts to the editors (firstname.lastname@example.org) before 15th February 2022; once accepted, the authors will have 9 months to complete their article. As for the house style of formatting (style of referencing and related issues), and the submission process itself, please follow the Technophany submission guidelines: http://journal.philosophyandtechnology.network/submission-guidelines/