She studies AI as existential media
30 April 2020
How are we influenced when smart digital assistants, like Siri and Alexa, become part of our homes? And what happens when we begin to track deviating individuals through biometrics? “More research is needed on what it means to be human in a digital era,” says Amanda Lagerkvist.
She is senior lecturer at the Department of Informatics and Media and has established an entirely new field of research: existential media studies. This field deals with what it means to be human in a digital age, when more and more of society is automated.
With her research, she wants to contribute to more than just a critical perspective around the hype associated with artificial intelligence.
“We cannot just say these developments are positive. A new opportunity with technology can also include vulnerability. This is why humanists like myself need to be involved. But we shouldn’t just criticise, we also have to take on the challenge creatively. We need to talk to AI researchers about what we want to do with AI, what major societal questions we can solve, but also what values are in the balance.”
Biometric AI changes how we view humanity
Amanda Lagerkvist heads the interdisciplinary project BioMe. It deals with the existential consequences of biometric AI, that is technology that uses the body to identify a person, such as facial and voice recognition.
“The face, voice and body are unique for humans. What happens when they are interwoven with new technologies? What is the biometric person and how will it change how we see ourselves and each other?”
Other problems occur when biometrics are used to localise people and to track potentially deviating individuals in a society.
“What happens with LGBTQ+ and minority groups, such as undocumented individuals, whose entire existence is based on not being seen? These are examples of why this research is so important. These autonomous systems reach into the very depths of our existence.”
Asking inconvenient questions
She is one of the researchers to receive a grant within the large WASP-HS programme, which studies AI and automated systems from a humanistic and social sciences perspective. She is pleased to see that the humanities have been given such a central role in the initiative.
“As researchers in the humanities, our task and our mission from society is always to ask inconvenient questions, to provide context and to dig deeper. But we have to work with AI researchers to formulate what is at stake.”
She is collaborating with the Chalmers Artificial Intelligence Research Centre and plans a series of meetings both in Gothenburg and Uppsala. Together, they will be conducting collaborative research in cooperation with industry.
Solving major societal challenges
AI is rife with prophets declaring it will solve all of humanity’s problems. Amanda Lagerkvist says it would naturally be wonderful if major societal challenges, like the coronavirus pandemic or the climate crisis, could be solved with the help of technology. But there needs also to be a discussion about what AI should not be used for. Perhaps we need “safe zones” where automation does not reach, according to Amanda Lagerkvist.
“Based on the discussion so far, it has sounded like AI is a force of nature that will take over and reign over us, but do we need to automate everything just because we can? The technology is built by people for specific purposes and to solve specific problems, but it becomes dangerous when we allow it to take the lead in societal development.”
- Amanda Lagerkvist heads up the project BioMe: Existential challenges and ethical imperatives of biometric AI in everyday lifeworlds, which is ongoing from January 2020 to December 2024.
- WASP-HS (The Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program – Humanities and Society) is a research programme on how the current technological transition will influence our society and our behaviour. The Wallenberg Foundations is investing up to SEK 660 million on research that examines the changes resulting from this technological transition.
- Blog post by Amanda Lagerkvist: Sweden needs to take a lead in humanistic and social scientific perspectives on AI
- BioMe: Existential challenges and ethical imperatives of biometric AI in everyday lifeworlds
- Uppsala Informatics and Media Hub for Digital Existence
- The Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program – Humanities and Society
Human diversity as a research area
29 maj 2018
Human diversity abounds in language, culture and biology. An understanding of this diversity is central to a lot of research, but it is important to address the ethical issues raised by this research. The Human Diversity Research Network takes an ...
Shared meals important for wellbeing
29 maj 2018
How, where and when we eat are key issues for human health and wellbeing. A multidisciplinary research network at Uppsala University aims to deepen knowledge about the significance of meals.
Is citizenship necessary for being part of a democracy?
26 april 2018
Nowadays, civil rights are usually connected with citizenship of a country. But how do growing globalisation and more mobility affect this?
Mobilising for research on higher education
26 april 2018
Remarkably little research is conducted on higher education in Sweden, but a large share of existing research on the subject is at Uppsala University. Through a research network for research on higher education, researchers are now mobilising to d...
Two Uppsala researchers elected at American Academy
25 april 2018
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences recently elected new members. Two Uppsala researchers were elected as international honorary members.
The Well-Laden Ship: Viking exhibition soon to reach America
11 april 2018
In late April, a ship will reach New York bringing the exhibition “The Vikings Begin” which will embark on a two-year tour of the US. On display will be a selection of 1,300-year-old items from the pre-Viking Age. Usually in storage at Gustavianum...
Art historian receives award from Vitterhetsakademien
09 april 2018
Every year, Vitterhetsakademien (The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities) confers prizes for outstanding scholarly achievements. PhD Hedvig Mårdh at Uppsala University was one of the 2017 prizewinners.
New Oscar Prize winners announced
21 december 2017
Uppsala University’s Oscar Prize for young researchers has been awarded to Eric Cullhed, Doctor of Philosophy, Department of Linguistics and Philology and Oskar Karlsson, Doctor of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences.
New thesis on 21st-century Swedish crime fiction: A Market of Murders
20 december 2017
Why have Swedish detective stories become so immensely popular in our century? What murder motives and weapons are most common in the genre, and why? And is it true that Swedish crime fiction is characterised by social criticism? A new thesis from...
Collaboration for new knowledge in culture and society
09 december 2017
Uppsala University is aiming to develop new research collaborations spanning different research subjects. The newly created Centre for Integrated Research on Culture and Society at the Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences will fac...
Ola Larsmo and Quentin Skinner new honorary doctors
16 oktober 2017
Author Ola Larsmo and Professor Quentin Skinner, University of London, have been appointed new honorary doctors at Uppsala University’s Faculty of Arts.
Equal Opportunities Award goes to Anita Hussénius
12 oktober 2017
Anita Hussénius, head of the Centre for Gender Research, has received the 2016 Equal Opportunities Award for her gender-equal and inclusive leadership.
Exhibition: Viking Age patterns may be Kufic script
03 oktober 2017
What was previously thought to be typical Viking Age, silver patterns on woven silk bands, could in fact be geometric Kufic characters. As part of an exhibition at the Enköping Museum, ongoing research is presented where a textile archaeological a...
First genetic proof that women were Viking warriors
08 september 2017
New DNA evidence uncovered by researchers at Uppsala University and Stockholm University shows that there were in fact female Viking warriors. The remains of an iconic Swedish Viking Age grave now reveal that war was not an activity exclusive to m...
Gustavian style – a Swedish style?
05 juni 2017
Why has the neoclassical Gustavian style become so prominent in the Swedish self-image? A new dissertation from Uppsala University shows how researchers in art history, along with museums, commercial enterprises and the monarchy, have contributed ...
Mandelgren Prize to Michael Neiß
13 april 2017
Svenska fornminnesföreningen (the Antiquarian Society of Sweden) has decided to award PhD student and archaeologist Michael Neiß the 2017 Mandelgren Prize for his research on Scandinavian animal art.
Archaeologists at the vanguard of environmental and climate research
26 februari 2017
The history of people and landscapes, whether natural or cultural, is fundamentally connected. Answering key historical questions about this relation will allow us to approach our most important environmental issues in novel ways. Today in the ope...
New database of Swedish archaeological research in Greece
09 januari 2017
In a recently completed project at the Swedish Institute in Athens, materials from more than a hundred years of Swedish archaeological research in Greece has been made available through the database PRAGMATA. The database includes, among other thi...
Bokrelease - Vicke Lindstrand On The Periphery
18 november 2016
Den australiensiske designhistorikern Mark Ian Jones lanserar sin nya bok Vicke Lindstrand On The Periphery. Detta är den första engelskspråkiga publikationen som beskriver Vicke Lindstrands liv och verk.
Digitisation of cultural heritage discussed at AIMday
03 november 2016
Cultural heritage has become a field of great importance for the development of modern society. Modern technology creates new opportunities for communicating and presenting cultural heritage, as well as making it accessible. The potential and chal...