The 2022 Annual Conference of the International Association for Critical Realism (IACR) will take place from the 10th to the 12th of August 2022 (+ pre-conference on the 8th and the 9th of August 2022). It will be hosted by the International Institute of Social Sciences (ISS) in the Hague (Netherlands) part of the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. Details of the event, including themes this year centred around ‘Realist Complexity, between Causal and Complex Systems’ can be found on the conference website here.
The ninth annual Centre for Social Ontology workshop will take place at Grenoble Ecole de Management from January 11th to January 14th, 2022. It will culminate in a roundtable with Prof. Margaret Archer and colleagues on the morning of Friday January 14th.
This roundtable is intended both as an intellectual exchange and as a celebration of the recent quadrilogy The Future of the Human.
Until the most recent decades, natural and social science could regard the ‘human being’ as their unproblematic point of reference, with monsters, clones and drones being acknowledged as fantasies dreamed up for the purposes of fiction or academic argument. In future, this common, taken for granted benchmark will be replaced by various amalgams of human biology supplemented by technology – a fact that has direct implications for democracy, social governance and human rights, owing to questions surrounding standards for social inclusion, participation and legal protection.
Considering the question of who or what counts as a human being and the challenges posed by anti-humanism, the implications for the global social order of the technological ability of some regions of the world to ‘enhance’ human biology, and the defence of humankind in the face of artificial intelligence, the books in this series examine the challenges posed to the universalism of humankind by various forms of anti-humanism, and seek to defend ‘human essentialism’ by accentuating the liabilities and capacities particular to human beings alone.
Those interested in attending are requested to RSVP before December 15th with Ismael Al-Amoudi: ismael[dot]al-amoudi[at]gmail.com.
Friday 14th January 2022, Grenoble Ecole de Management, room E341
The 2021 Annual Conference of the International Association for Critical Realism (#IACR2021) will be held online this year. Hosted by Rhodes University and the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa), it will take place via Zoom from the 20th to the 24th of September. Details of the event, including subthemes this year centred around the unifying theme of emancipation, can be found here.
The latest volume of the Post-human Society and the Future of Humanity book series has been published and is available for purchase from Routledge. Edited by Margaret Archer and Andrea Maccarini, this compilation of essays “asks whether there exists an essence exclusive to human beings despite their continuous enhancement – a nature that can serve to distinguish humans from artificially intelligent robots, now and in the foreseeable future.”
Considering what might qualify as such an essence, this volume demonstrates that the abstract question of ‘essentialism’ underpins a range of social issues that are too often considered in isolation and usually justify ‘robophobia’, rather than ‘robophilia’, in terms of morality, social relations and legal rights. Any defence of human exceptionalism requires clarity about what property(ies) ground it and an explanation of why these cannot be envisaged as being acquired (eventually) by AI robots. As such, an examination of the conceptual clarity of human essentialism and the role it plays in our thinking about dignity, citizenship, civil rights and moral worth is undertaken in this volume. What is Essential to Being Human? will appeal to scholars of social theory and philosophy with interests in human nature, ethics and artificial intelligence.
2. On Robophilia and Robophobia – Douglas V. Porpora
3. Sapience and Sentience: A Reply to Porpora – Margaret S. Archer
4. Relational Essentialism – Pierpaolo Donati
5. Artificial Intelligence: Sounds like a friend, looks like a friend, is it a friend? – Jamie Morgan
6. Growing Up in a World of Platforms: What Changes and What Doesn’t? – Mark Carrigan
7. On Macropolitics of Knowledge for Collective Learning in the Age of AI-Boosted Big Relational Tech – Emmanuel Lazega and Jaime Montes-Lihn
8. Can AIs do Politics? – Gazi Islam
9. Inhuman Enhancements? When Human Enhancements Alienate from Self, Others, Society and Nature – Ismael Al-Amoudi
10. The Social Meanings of Perfection: Human Self-Understanding in a Post-Human Society – Andrea M. Maccarini
The latest volume of the Post-human Society and the Future of Humanity book series has been published and is available for purchase from Routledge. Edited by Mark Carrigan and Doug Porpora, this volume “engages with post-humanist and transhumanist approaches to present an original exploration of the question of how humankind will fare in the face of artificial intelligence.”
With emerging technologies now widely assumed to be calling into question assumptions about human beings and their place within the world, and computational innovations of machine learning leading some to claim we are coming ever closer to the long-sought artificial general intelligence, it defends humanity with the argument that technological ‘advances’ introduced artificially into some humans do not annul their fundamental human qualities. Against the challenge presented by the possibility that advanced artificial intelligence will be fully capable of original thinking, creative self-development and moral judgement and therefore have claims to legal rights, the authors advance a form of ‘essentialism’ that justifies providing a ‘decent minimum life’ for all persons. As such, while the future of the human is in question, the authors show how dispensing with either the category itself or the underlying reality is a less plausible solution than is often assumed.
1. Being Human (or What?) in the Digital Matrix Land: The Construction of the Humanted – Pierpaolo Donati
2. Being Human as an Option: How to Rescue Personal Ontology from Transhumanism, and (Above All) Why Bother – Andrea M. Maccarini
3. Perplexity Logs: On Routinized Certainty Work and Social Consequences of Seeking Advice from an Artificial Intelligence – Emmanuel Lazega
4. Artificial Intelligence and the Challenge of Social Care in Aging Societies: Who or What Will Care for Us in the Future? – Jamie Morgan
6. Can Humans and AI Robots be Friends? – Margaret S. Archer
7. Humanity’s End: Where Will We Be in a Million Years? – Douglas V. Porpora
Professor Margaret Archer has been jointly awarded the 2020 International Oreste Benzi Award for her work against human trafficking. Archer’s ‘Housing, Help and Hospitality’ charity for trafficked women and their children was particularly lauded in the award announcement. A detailed account of the work of this charity can be found here.
The Father Oreste Benzi Foundation “promotes research, studies and opportunities for analysis and discussion on the needs of suffering, marginalised and disadvantaged people,” inspired by the work of Father Oreste Benzi, priest of the Diocese of Rimini.
In autumn of 2020, professor Ismael Al-Amoudi gave an inaugural lecture to Masters students of Energy Management and Purchasing Management at the Grenoble Ecole de Management, entitled “Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility as Buzzwords?” The presentation slides are available upon request.
Professor Gazi Islam gave an invited presentation on “Leadership, Organizations and COVID-19” to the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, on the 12th of October, 2020. The below recording and summary of the event are taken from the event page.
On 12 October, the Whitaker Institute hosted a live webinar titled Leadership, Organizations and COVID-19. The webinar discussed the challenges of being a leader against a backdrop of radical uncertainty including the need to make rapid decisions. Available information changes fast, and is often based on contested evidence. Meanwhile anxious employees and stakeholders seek guidance and some sense of certainty amid the challenges.
These challenges have impacts on people’s lives. In politics, the ambiguity accompanying Covid-19 continues to be exploited by populist leaders worldwide. In business, the corporate social responsibility initiatives that many have celebrated over the past ten years, are now being tested to their limits. Demands of those with short-term, profit-driven interests are pitted against longer-term concerns including the health and well-being of employees, customers and other stakeholders. In the public sector including education, the implicit contract of public service is likewise being challenged, as traditional funding sources dry up.
In the event, established leadership theories were also questioned. For some, the pandemic marks the end of the traditional, masculine model of leadership in which power ought to be centralized, and decision-making unilateral. Instead, we see examples of strong feminine leaders coming to the fore, with collaborative and empathetic approaches winning out. For others, such claims of a paradigm shift are premature.