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BMBF Collaborative Research Project "Embodied Information"

FU Freie Universitaet Berlin (Institue of Philosophy) and KHM Academy of Media Arts Cologne (Media Science Department)

The work of the research group focuses on the ongoing Converging Technology Debate and is rooted in various discourses on science and technology (philosophy of science, science and technology studies, information theory, images in science and technology). It aims to fruitfully combine these discourses and their research methodologies and to develop a conjoint method for exploring new developments.


Converging Technology Debate

Since 2002 'converging technologies' have been advertised as a new paradigm in science and engineering. Science policy reports of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the US and the European Union are discussing not only various issues, aspects, and goals of developments in science and engineering, but also scientific institutions that would facilitate a convergence of technologies. Although some existing examples of convergence are being highlighted, the discourse is guided mainly by abstract visions, science fiction, and transhuman ideas. The impact of 'converging technologies', as envisioned by the NSF report in particular, aspires directly to 'improve human enhancement'. Therefore a critical re-reading, analysis and discussion of the documents and reports have begun.

Overview of literature » Christopher Coenen: Konvergierende Technologien und Wissenschaften. Der Stand der Debatte und politischen Aktivitäten zu "Converging Technologies", TAB-Hintergrundpapier Nr. 16, Berlin 2008 (pdf 2 mb)


Philosophy of Technology and Science

Philosophy of Technology explores epistemic structures in science and technologies. New concepts based on an extensive body of literature on theory and the history of science must be developed. The diversification of scientific disciplines, theories, and reasonings contradicts a highly abstract and unifying philosophical theory of science and technology.  Therefore new concepts of epistemic structures have to be rooted in case studies if they are to grasp ongoing developments.

Overview of literature » Werner Kogge: Technologie des 21. Jahrhunderts – Perspektiven der Technikphilosophie, in: Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, 6/2008: 935ff

Science and Technology Studies

STS Science and Technologies Studies provides practicable instruments for examining current developments. Case studies based on interviews, document analysis, and participant observation allow detailed investigations of organisational, social, and epistemic structures in science and technologies. Furthermore STS provides various theories of the construction of technologies like the SCOT social construction of technologies, the ANT actor-network-theory or the concept of assemblages.

Overview of literature » Petra Illyes: Zum Stand der Forschung des internationalen Science and Technology (STS)-Diskurses, Universität Frankfurt 2005, 83 S. (pdf 360 kb)

Information Theories

Obviously the concept of information is the central if not the unity idea of modern empirical sciences. But what is information? How information is formally describable? Especially the quantification of the notion of information is highly questionable regarding presuppositions and inferences. This holds for the statistical  approaches after Hartley-Shannon and for the algorithmically approaches after Kolmogorov-Chaitin and Solomonoff as well. Notwithstanding the propagated convergence in the concept of information, a construal and categorial criticism of the mathematical information theories is a practically unexplored field.

Overview of literature »Michael Putzmann: List of Literature on Algorithmic Information Theory, 2009 (pdf 79 kb)

Images in Science and Technology

Images play an increasingly important role in science and technologies, and they do so on various levels: they offer specific insights that could not be gained without iconic knowledge; they represent and communicate scientific information; in a new way they are used for creating technological outputs (imaging and lithographical practises). The project discusses these concepts of images as epistemic, symbolic and operational techniques. Therefore it is connected to the growing body of literature on scientific images as well as to the studies on images as tools for scientific production.

Overview of literature »Kathrin Friedrich: Literature Survey "Images in Science and Technology" (pdf 84 kb)