What I did on my holidays…..

Just to prove I did more than surf, aikido, and eat lots of Thai and Vietnamese when in Australia recently, here is a pic of my talk on military robotics and AI at the Centre for Cultural Research at the University of Western Sydney (invited by the Transit Labour research network’s Ned Rossiter):

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abstract for the talk:

This paper offers some critical perspectives from which to approach the massive and intensive development of military robotics, a development that can be understood (and not metaphorically) as envisaging their bringing to life as fully functioning perceiving and acting beings. The mid-term goal the United States Air Force has for its Unmanned Aircraft Systems is, for example, to pass from the current deployment of robots as the extension into ‘battlespace’ of operators—a ‘man in the loop’ system resembling the classic cybernetic configuration of the ‘man in the middle’ recalled in the videogame controller interfaces of the UAS operators—to a ‘man on the loop’ deployment where the human monitors the execution of the robot’s now realtime ‘perceive and act vector’. What is projected here is the robot system living out what Henri Bergson called the ‘sensory-motor scheme’ of everyday experience. The ethical and political challenges such a developmental trajectory are evident, even if, today, there is very little acknowledgment or critical debate about the extraordinary proliferation of robotic warfighting systems in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this paper I want to characterise this trajectory of military robotics development as a crucial engine of technological development today, one in which the ‘animation machine’ of perceptual experience converges with that driving the intentional vector of the automoted robot weapon-system. Aside from asking the old question about what happens when the ‘man’ goes out of the loop, I want to consider what and who is reanimated, and how, when the loop becomes the vector of perception and action

and from the Australasian Association of Philosophy conference at Wollongong University on the Film and Philosophy panel convened by Rob Sinnerbrink:

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Abstract for this one:

Editing Experience: Stiegler and Film Theory/History
 At the ‘Impact of Technology on the History and Theory of Cinema’ conference in Montreal in Nov 2011, leading film scholar, Tom Gunning, affirmed the importance of Bernard Stiegler’s philosophy of technology for a reconceptualisation of cinema’s past and future at this juncture of its becoming digital. Gunning is less interested, however, in Stiegler’s specific analysis of cinema. My paper will elaborate and evaluate some of the key claims of Stiegler’s work on cinema by reflecting on this curiously ambivalent steering of the theory of film towards Stiegler’s post-Derridean, post-Simondonian philosophy of technology. Gunning sees the possibilities of this reorientation in a renewed encounter with the graphic, ‘mythological’ power of the cinematic image not reducible to its significatory potential, and linking it to the long, long history of exterior technical supports of human imagination and collective becoming. His distinterest in Stiegler’s account of cinema would seem to parallel then with his identification of this power of cinema as something prior to its becoming a form of montage or assemblage (what Deleuze says cinema becomes later, when its ‘true’ nature emerges). For his part, Stiegler identifies the cinema’s re-edit of experience as an absolutely singular development of this long trajectory of exteriorisation. it is in Stiegler’s post-phenomenological (post-Husserlian) account of the experience of cinema (in both senses of) that the difference between Gunning’s Stiegler and Stiegler’s cinema lies

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