Can we learn from robots about love?

Robot Love is a largescale, international, cross podium art & technology exhibition on various locations in Eindhoven, accompanied by Cyborg Catwalks, dance, theatre, performances, residencies, workshops, lectures, conferences, community works, installations in the fall of 2018. Disruptive technologies urge us to reconceptualize what it is to be human while we are becoming cyborgs in symbiosis with machines. The project investigates this by way of an affirmative approach towards shared love, intelligence , awareness and agency, allowing for frictions to occur.

We cannot grasp how robots and Artificial Intelligences (AI) perceive the world. Generosity, trust, imagination and responsiveness towards radical other beings are needed in order to build rapport. It opens up the possibility to consider the un-accountable, the un-decidable, the un-definable. Just like love. Technology has the potential to transgress normative borders. Notions like intelligence, consciousness and love are normative concepts. We think we know what these qualities mean but actually we don’t. The liberalist emphasis on rationalism and reductionism has led to a limited view of humans as self-centered, fully rational and disembodied actors surviving the economic system. There is a tendency to see ourselves as quantitative machines.

Meanwhile, in order to interact with us humans, robots need to incorporate neglected qualities. Such as emotion, intuition and most of all love. Now that “real machines” are entering the domestic sphere, AI may act as a mirror allowing us to delve deeper into ourselves and current state of society. Combining neuroscience, robotics, ethics Robot Love artists, like “a force from the future”, ask: can we learn from robots about love?

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Care robots, industrial robots, ambient intelligence, self-driving cars. Robot Love is not merely about human-robot relationships, but on how technological advancement can inspire us to reconceptualize ourselves as human beings. The art manifestation critically investigates this by way of an affirmative approach to artificial intelligence, allowing for frictions to occur.

Although created in our image or as a proxy of the human, we cannot yet grasp how robots perceive the world, it is alien to our own perception. Thus recognition of a radically other being, whose actions cannot be predicted, is needed. Like a difference not in degree but in kind that moves away from existing logic. The curators invite artists, designers, academic and sci-fi scholars who work in the areas of neurosciences, robotics, ethics to contribute. Ethical questions that come towards us from the near future are numerous. To pick just a few examples: Are innovative technologies encapsulating us further in becoming our own pets or can they affect us towards a new relationality between humans and non-human surroundings?

As there is no technological neutrality, how to cope with datafication and narrow-minded algorithmic gaze? Which developments in artificial intelligence inspire us to radically reconsider consciousness as residing inbetween minds or as a community of minds? To what extent can artificial intelligence (or thalience) stir us to take a more inward turn? In what ways can we co-exist as interdependent, context-sensitive bodies in symbiosis with technologies, co-creating an inclusive society based on love and generosity?

The project will be developed in close collaboration with the Dutch Design Foundation, FNV, Van Abbemuseum, Design Academy, Park Theatre, TU Delft, TU Eindhoven, University Twente, Summa College a.o. In the following months Robot Love and BALTAN Laboratories will invite four artists for residencies in Eindhoven. Their lectures and workshops will deepen our understanding of the near future.

A factsheet with concrete update on the status of the project - partners, funds, sponsors - is available.
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Various locations in Eindhoven, 15 September - 2 December 2018