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Yuval Molina Obedman

I am a Spanish-Argentinian journalist and researcher currently based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I grew up in Madrid, Spain, where I did a BA in Media Studies at Complutense University. After working in different media outlets, including Agence France-Presse and Agency EFE, I finished an MA in International Relations at Leiden University, the Netherlands, and a Research MA in Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. My research interests range from philosophy of technoscience to Marxist environmental thinking, phenomenology, the metaphysics of science, social ontology, and responsive technological innovation.

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On the 'Matter' of AI: New Technologies, Old Habits

My research focuses on the relationship between metaphysical considerations around technoscience and ethical assessments of technological innovation, as they allow much-needed insight into the social nature of scientific practices, both past and present, as well as the resulting picture of an emergent Nature.

I depart from Martin Heidegger’s ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ (1977) to argue against the tendency to focus on the level of beings (i.e., the ontic level) in innovation while relegating philosophical analysis of Being to second fiddle. I reposition (and vindicate) Heidegger’s being vs Being as a metaphysical question, to then explore recent views that see technoscientific practices as implying a different metaphysical paradigm than that of ‘normal’ science. I am particularly interested in how developments in early thermodynamics and its vocabulary of matter and energy have determined the metatheoretical and philosophical underpinnings of not only ‘normal’ science (and later, ‘technoscience’), but also of the legacy of physicalism in the social sciences and humanities. These range from those of classical thermodynamics (e.g., Sadi Carnot and Hermann von Helmholtz) to statistical thermodynamics (e.g., Maxwell, Boltzmann, Planck or Clausius), through their influence on philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Henri Bergson, Hans Reichenbach and Rudolf Carnap, and French epistemologists. My work is framed within recent attempts at understanding how juxtaposing ‘normal’ science vis-à-vis technoscience as two different metaphysical theses imply distinctive models in the management of matter, especially in the context of Georges Bataille’s rendition of different economies of energy expenditure and its rebranding in the work of the late Bernard Stiegler. For the present residency, I am concerned with how these changing paradigms rebrand contemporary computational theories of mind, particularly in the context of recent parallels between human vis-à-vis artificial intelligence (AI). The question of AI is fundamental here, as it revitalizes centuries-old debates in the fringes of science, philosophy, religion, economics, or politics (see, for instance, the possibility of a “perfect machine”; the remediation of earlier scientific apocalyptic visions such as the ‘heat-death of the universe’ into an ‘AI takeover,’ but also the revival of metaphysical theories of the mind such as neutral monism and panpsychism).

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