• #Workshop
  • #Senior Fellows

Forgotten by Design. Foundational Limits and Dysfunctionalities in Computational Cognitive-Behavioral Environments

04/06/2024, 13:00 - 05/06/2024, 12:30, Essen

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collage of a robot and code

With the recent advancements in deep machine learning AI, cognitive-behavioural design seems to be on the verge of consolidating a heterogeneous set of aesthetic, scientific, and political techniques and theories into quasi-automatic and homogenous cognitive-behavioural environments. While the discourses in science and industry on cognitive simulations, generative AI systems, and robotics are centered around narratives of functionality, profit, innovation, or scientific-technological progress, this workshop assumes a critical media studies perspective. Cognitive neuroscience, in alliance with STS and the history of science, has opened an avenue into thinking about brain and cognition models in dependency on media technologies: relations between brain science, imaging technologies, and computational methods are all but decided.

The workshop brings together junior and senior humanities scholars from the Netherlands, the United States, and Germany to tackle the history and theory of computational environments that are designed to study, model, or shape cognitive behaviour and decision-making. While analysing historical and current media technological models seems more pertinent than ever, the focus here is being shifted away from what is being made possible to what is being made technologically impossible through the cognitive-behavioural design of computational environments: what does not compute, becomes invisible, excluded, disposed, forgotten, or foreclosed by the design of computational cognitive-behavioural environments?


The workshop is co-organised by Christina Vagt, a professor of European Media Studies, German, and Comparative Literature at the University of California Santa Barbara, who is currently a Senior Fellow at the College for Social Sciences and Humanities, and Florian Sprenger, professor of Media Studies at Ruhr University Bochum.


The workshop is open to the interested public. The number of participants is limited. Please register by 3rd June, 12 pm.



The workshop will take place at the College for Social Sciences and Humanities.


Tue, 4 June

13:30–14:00 – Coffee

14:00–14:15 – Welcome & Introductions  

14:15–15:15  – Christina Vagt: Catastrophic Forgetting or Why the Mind is Not in the Head

15:30–16:30 – Benedikt Merkle: "A Mind-Reading (?) Machine" today – Stochastic Elements in ANN Technology

16:30–17:00 – Coffee break

17:00–18:00 – Marie-Luise Shnayien: Infinite strange loops: A media history of Mathematics. A mathematical history of mediality

19:00 – Speaker's Dinner

Wed, 5 June

08:30–09:00 – Coffee

09:00–10:00 – Florian Sprenger, Alex Schmiedel, Christoph Engemann, Thomas Nyckel, Jens Fehrenbacher: Building and Scaling - Environmental Adaptation and Robotics

10:15–11:15 – Flora Lysen: Dreams of automating pattern recognition in medical image analysis: examining histories of optimizing diagnosis in radiology, pathology and EEG-research

11:30–12:30 – Joshua Baldelomar: Brainwaves Turned Signals: Cybernetic Tortoises and the Sequencing of Sensing