Residential Research Group on Artificial Humanity, Spring 2020

Residential research groups (RRGs) are in essence teams of researchers, often unknown to each other before residency, and assembled to work on a commonly-defined research agenda. They are composed of a range of UC faculty, visiting scholars (including UC postdoctoral scholars), UC doctoral students, and non-UC faculty as resources allow. The organizing premise of the residential research program is that when the challenges of communicating across disciplines are surmounted, breakthroughs in knowledge are possible.

This call is for participation in the spring 2020 residential research group, “Artificial Humanity.” The Residential Research Group on Artificial Humanity invites research projects that probe the borders and examine the character limits that delineate the human. Please see the research agenda below for more information.

Applications must be submitted online via FastApps by 11:59 PM (Pacific time) on the deadline date.


Research Agenda

Humans have remade the surface of the earth with extractions and constructions, radically altering the climate through energy use, remaking both animal and plant worlds. We have reproduced intelligence in self-sustaining forms which may very well escape our control in the near future. In a world laden with artificial products of human ingenuity and stricken with the ailments of human hubris, the human can be both hero and villain, victim and perpetrator. This research group welcomes projects that reveal the artificiality of the human.

What does it mean to be human in a post-everything age? Are we posthuman yet? What are the limits of the human in the face of rapid technological progress that simultaneously helps and threatens? Robots can now recognize human faces and interpret expressions. Computers can convert human speech to text files, and analyze affective tone. Algorithms decide what we read, how we consume, and whom we meet. Automation has transformed the landscape of human labor in just a few generations. Technologies that were unthinkable 20 years ago are now portable, wearable, even implantable.

While the most obvious forum for these discussions is in the realm of technology and artificial intelligence, UCHRI invites projects that expand the horizons of the group to encompass broader readings of the relationship between the human and the artificial. Research projects might situate the nature of being and feeling “human” within the identity crisis that has been a near universal feature of human history. What historical moments or movements have debated, tested, or enforced the boundaries of the human? What is it like to be “the animal at unease with itself” (as Derrida called it)? Struggles over who or what is human have been historically framed around de-humanization and re-humanization, who or what is an imposter or a fake. Expansive or exclusive definitions of the human have been explored as expressed through the arts or sciences. What is a compelling analytics of the human today?

The RRG welcomes projects that grapple with issues such as (but certainly not limited to):

  • Superhumanity (implants/transplants, artificial intelligence, transhumanism, animal studies)
  • Language & Representation (rhetorics of dehumanization, internet-speak and the contraction/expansion of human expression, algorithmic logics, representations of human beauty/suffering)
  • Labor (the transformation of work and its impacts on a sense of human purpose, slavery and unfree labor)

Application Details

The RRG is open to scholars across the UC system, and a limited number of non-UC scholars (as resources allow), interested in participating in the research agenda with their own unique projects. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact their respective campus representative on the UCHRI Advisory Committee well in advance of the application deadline for guidance in the application process.

Applicants must apply online via UCHRI’s FastApps system. Required documents include:

  • Short Biography (200 words max)
  • Project Title and Abstract (200 words max)
  • Project Description (2,000 words max. Please explain your personal research aims for the residence and explain how they relate to the collective research agenda)
  • Curriculum Vitae (2 pages max)

Individual applicants are selected based on their ability to contribute to the research agenda of the group.

For program related questions, please contact Shana Melnysyn, research grants manager, at smelnysyn@hri.uci.edu.

For technical assistance with FastApps, contact techsupport@hri.uci.edu.

Please include the name of the program for which you need assistance.