Is ‘Spot’ a good dog? Why we’re right to worry about unleashing robot quadrupeds

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When it comes to dancing, pulling a sled, climbing stairs or doing tricks, “Spot” is definitely a good dog. It can navigate the built environment and perform a range of tasks, clearly demonstrating its flexibility as a software and hardware platform for commercial use.

Viral videos of Boston Dynamics’ robotic quadruped showcasing those abilities have been a key pillar of its marketing strategy. But earlier this year, when a New York art collective harnessed Spot to make a different point, the company was quick to deny its potential for harm.

Read more of Jeremy Moses and Geoffrey Ford’s article in The Conversation.

Arts Digital Lab Seminar: From robot quadrupeds to drone swarms: using digital methods to analyse debates on lethal autonomous weapons

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From robot quadrupeds to drone swarms: using digital methods to analyse debates on lethal autonomous weapons

Dr Geoff Ford, Digital Humanities / Political Science and International Relations
Associate Professor Jeremy Moses, Political Science and International Relations

In this seminar we will discuss our recent research on robot quadrupeds and drone swarms. This research has involved collecting and analysing large data-sets of texts using digital methods. We will talk about how we have gone about the research, some of the tools we have built, some of our findings, and implications for debates about regulating lethal autonomous weapons. We will also consider how digital methods complement traditional scholarship in the study of international relations.

About the ‘Mapping LAWS’ project:

Controversy around the development, regulation and use of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), or ‘killer robots’, has rapidly developed over the past decade. The ‘Mapping LAWS’ project uses methods and tools associated with ‘issue mapping’ to gather large digital datasets of published writing on LAWS, present the results in accessible visual formats inspired by the principles of ‘data humanism’, and analyse key international relations and policy-related issues that arise from that process.

Friday 26 March, 1 – 2.30 pm
Logie 401

National Digital Forum 2019 presentation: Human ethics challenges in digital community story-telling

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The talk that Jennifer Middendorf and Samuel Hope presented at the National Digital Forum in Wellington in November, titled “Human ethics challenges in digital community story-telling”, is now available to view on YouTube.

In the talk, Samuel and Jennifer discuss some of the ethical challenges faced by the Understanding Place project while developing the Red Zone Stories app.

Narrative Systems and Simulated Storyworlds

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What new forms of storytelling are possible when we use computers to generate and curate narratives? From the strict causal logic of plots and conflict models and the dreamlike free-association found in fairytales and modernist fiction to the endless possibilities of dramatic events emerging from large scale social simulations, this talk is a beginner’s guide to the weird and wonderful world of computational narrative.

As well as introducing practical methods to generate stories and model narrative structures using the tools of systems and simulations, we’ll look at how artists, writers and researchers can incorporate these methods into their creative practice, the aesthetic consequences and tradeoffs, and the reasons why people might want to generate stories in the first place.

Speaker: Mark Rickerby – Writer, designer and programmer

Date: Thursday 17 October

Time: 1:00–2:00pm

Venue: Room 526, Meremere (Law), Ilam Campus, University of Canterbury