Politics ex machina: robotic flesh and political mediation

Keynote by Peter-Paul Verbeek (1970), Professor of philosophy of technology at the Department of Philosophy and co-director of the DesignLab at the University of Twente, The Netherlands.

The fourth Industrial Revolution is bringing a revival of the machine. After an initial stage of virtualization, information technology is now rematerializing in the Internet *of things* and embodied in robotic technologies. These new machines embody new relations to human beings and question existing boundaries in new ways – robotics blurs the boundaries between machine and human, while IoT blurs the boundaries between machine and world. This new hybridity brings a new politicization of the body and the material environment. Building upon Merleau-Ponty’s notion of the ‘flesh’ (la chair), and Benjamins notion of ‘aura’ I will explore Stelarcs recent work ‘StickMan’, the experiences of drone pilots, and the design of sex robots and teledildonics. This will shed more light on the politics of the new machine, and its implication for the artwork in its new age of mechanical (re)production.