The Ecotic Challenges:
Will there ever be a world without AI and robots again?
Are robots and AI the new plague?
Dominique Lestel (ENS, Paris)
Gentiane Venture (UT, Tokyo & AIST, Tsukuba)
"Who's there? Ecology of the presence of robots and inhabited artifacts"
For most people, meeting an autonomous robot is first of all being confronted with a presence. In the case of a human, this effect of presence is normally explained by the hypothesis that the body is inhabited by a more or less abstract principle that has long been called "soul" and that is more readily called today "consciousness", whose supposed biological nature remains as mysterious as that of the soul. A number of artifacts also have ambiguous qualities of presence that bring them closer to humans, such as certain dolls, certain puppets, certain fetishes – and today a growing number of robots. Attributing them a soul is very attractive but is not very up to date. Searching for a consciousness there, in the contemporary sense of the term, quickly leads to insurmountable difficulties for artifacts devoid of any biological dimension. Another path leads to being interested less in the causes than in their effects and in wondering why we have the impression that certain artefacts show effects of presence. How can we think of an ecology of presence in technological contexts that makes it possible to account for the complexity of the phenomena at stake? Is there continuity between the effects of presence with robots and with more traditional artefacts such as dolls or fetishes?