Ethics of Coding - A Report on the Algorithmic Condition (2018)

Prof Felicity Colman, Kingston University
Prof Vera Bühlmann, Technische Universität Wien
Prof Aislinn O’Donnell, Maynooth University
Prof Iris van der Tuin, Utrecht University

This project and report was authored by selected members of Working Group 1 and funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.1. – INDUSTRIAL LEADERSHIP – Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies – Information and Communication Technologies.

Download full report PDF here
European Commission info page here

Extract from the introduction:

This report on the Ethics of Coding [EoC] presents a snapshot view through an investigation on the current state of what we call “the algorithmic condition”. By speaking of the algorithmic condition, we pick up today, in critical manner, Hannah Arendt’s question of the condition of possibility for leading an “active life” as the conditions of possibility for politics. For Arendt, this question emerged out of an altered status of knowledge that resulted in her time from being related to nature of the earth as investigated from a viewpoint in the universe, rather than one situated firmly on earthly grounds (Arendt, 1958). In doing so this report brings together discourses and objects, of the sciences and the humanities, and seeks to present a spectrum of the diversity of issues generated by this altered, novel condition, and survey of the wide-ranging considerations and potential applications of this topic. Further, this report on the ethics of coding and the algorithmic condition asks: How can we think adequately about the relation between knowledge and ethics in societies that are governed by algorithmic digital systems and objects endowed with agency? In order to attend to these latter questions, we looked at Jean-Francois Lyotard’s report from 1979 on the altered status of knowledge in “computerized societies”. Raising Arendt’s question of critique (and transcendentality of conditions of possibility) with regard to how we think about “human nature”, as well as by relating coding and programming to Lyotard’s particular notion of language games and paralogisms (Lyotard, 1979), we propose to take into account, from both viewpoints, an emerging novel “literacy” which we propose to call a “quantum literacy”. With this, we want to direct attention to the principle inadequacy of thinking about numbers and letters, mathematics and language, as two separate domains of which the former is concerned with the necessary whereas the latter deals with the contingent and interpretable. Code confronts us with an “impure” reason that cannot rid itself of amphiboly, but that is nevertheless “computable”.

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Research Associates
Marien Baerveldt, MSc, Utrecht University and Art of Hosting, Netherlands
Gerda Palmetshofer, Technische Universität Wien, Austria
Rumen Rachev, Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Sam Skinner, Kingston University, London, UK
Whitney Stark, Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Utrecht University, Netherlands

Stakeholders and Participants
Diana Alvarez-Marin, ETH Zurich, Chair for CAAD, Switzerland
Elie Ayache, ITO 33, Paris, France
Jesse Balster, Utrecht University Computer Science, Netherlands
Marguerite Barry, University College Dublin, Ireland
Prof. Maaike Bleeker, Theatre and Performance Studies, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Prof. Peg Birmingham, Philosophy, DePaul University, Chicago, MI, USA
Prof. Rosi Braidotti, University Professor Utrecht University, Netherlands
Christl de Kloe MA, Utrecht Data School, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Pierre Cutellic, ETH Zurich, Chair for CAAD, Switzerland
Dr. Sylvie Delacroix, Reader in Legal Theory and Ethics, UCL Laws and Computer Sciences, UK
Adam Harkens, Queens University Belfast, Ireland
Cliona Harmey, National College of Art and Design, Ireland
Prof. Joanna Hodge, Professor of Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
Dr. Yuk Hui, ICAM Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany
Dr. Thomas King, Digital Ethics Lab, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, UK
Dr. Kristian Faschingeder, Department for Architecture Theory and Philosophy of Technics ATTP, TU Wien, Austria
Georg Fassl, Department for Architecture Theory and Philosophy of Technics ATTP, TU Wien, ,Austria
Dr Noel Fitzpatrick, DIT, Ireland
Dr. Jessica Foley, CONNECT, Dublin, Ireland
Ine Gevers, Curator Niet Normaal Foundation, Netherlands
Aline Franzke, MA Utrecht Data School, Utrecht University, Netherlands

David Gauthier, MA, Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Helena Grande, MA Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Prof. Ludger Hovestadt, ETH Zürich, Information Science and Architecture, Chair for CAAD, Switzerland
Noelia Iranzo Ribera, MSc, History & Philosophy of Science Utrecht University, Netherlands
Dr. Laura Karreman, Theatre and Performance Studies, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Dr. Aphra Kerr, Maynooth University, Ireland
Prof. Rob Kitchin, Maynooth University, Ireland
Dr. Nikolas Marincic, ETH Zurich, Chair for CAAD
Prof. Jan Masschelein, KU Leuven
Martin McCabe, Dublin Institute of Technology
Dr. Chris Meyns, History of Philosophy, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Eleni Mina, MA, Bio Informatics, Leiden University, Netherlands
Dr. Vahid Moosavi, ETH Zurich, Chair for CAAD, Switzerland
Philippe Morel ENSA Paris, France
Prof. Marcel Alexander Niggli, Chair for Criminology and Philosophy of Law, University Fribourg, Switzerland
Dr. Jorge Orozco, ETH Zurich, Chair for CAAD, Switzerland
Joe Oyler Maynooth University, Ireland
Poltak Pandjaitan, ETH Zurich, Chair for CAAD, Switzerland
Prof. Sandra Ponzanesi Professor of Gender, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Wessel Reijers, ADAPT, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
Angela Rickard, Maynooth University, Ireland
Dr. Egle Rindzeviciute, Kingston University, London, UK
Miro Roman, ETH Zurich, Chair for CAAD, Switzerland
Dr. Mirko Tobias Schafer, New Media and Digital Culture & Director of Utrecht Data School, Utrecht University, NL
Prof. Anne-Françoise Schmidt, Prof. of Epistemology, MINES ParisTech, Paris, France
Dr. Oliver Schürer, Department for Architecture Theory and Philosophy of Technics ATTP, TU Wien, Austria
Sharon Todd, Maynooth University, Ireland
Whitney Stark, MA, Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Utrecht University & BAK—a base for art, science, and politics, NL
Dr. Nancy Vansieleghem, Luca School of Art
Michael Veale, UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy, UK
Prof. Scott Wilson, Kingston University, London, UK
Prof. Michael Wheeler, University of Stirling, UK
Dr. Ben Williamson, University of Stirling, UK
Bram van den Boomen, Utrecht University Computer Science, Netherlands
Ruben van Doorn, Artificial Intelligence and Liberal Arts & Sciences, Utrecht University, Netherlands

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