Event

Unhumanizing the Organisation: The danger of singularity, the promise of integration, and the radical possibilities of transhuman relations

The Centre for Work, Organisation and Society (CWOS) warmly invite you to join Professor Peter Bloom as he presents his research on Unhumanizing the Organisation.

  • Wed 5 Feb 20

    12:00 - 13:00

  • Colchester Campus

    EBS.2.41

  • Event speaker

    Professor Peter Bloom, Professor of Management and Head of Management and Marketing Group, University of Essex

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    CWOS Research Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

  • Contact details

    Dr Sophie Hales

This seminar aims to chart the coming changes to identity, institutions and governance in a world populated by intelligent human and non-human actors alike. Further, it aims to propose an original theory of transhuman relations for this coming future.

Seminar abstract

The twenty first century is on the verge of a possible total economic and political revolution.

Technological advances in robotics, computing and digital communications have the potential to completely transform how people live and work. Even more radically, humans will soon be interacting with artificial intelligence (A.I.) as a normal and essential part of their daily existence. What is needed now more than ever is to rethink social relations to meet the challenges if this soon to arrive "smart" world.

This seminar is based on Professor Peter Bloom's forthcoming book Identity, Institutions, and Governance in an AI World: Transhuman Relations. Professor Bloom propose a original theory of trans-human for this coming future.

Drawing on insights from organisational studies, critical theory, psychology and futurism, Peter charts (as the title suggests) the coming changes to identity, institutions, and governance in a world populated by intelligent human and non-human actors alike. It will be characterised by a fresh emphasis on infusing programming with values of social justice, protecting the rights and views of all forms of "consciousness" and creating the structures and practices necessary for encouraging a culture of "mutual intelligent design". To do so means moving beyond our anthropocentric worldview of today and expanding our assumptions about the state of tomorrow's politics, institutions, law and even everyday existence. 

Critically such a profound shift demands transcending humanist paradigms of a world created for and by humans and instead opening ourselves to a new reality where non-human intelligence and cyborgs are increasingly central.

To this end, it proclaims the need for a new philosophical perspective and praxis in relation to human and non-human interactions and social relations.

In contrast to the majority of existing theories of disruptive technology and post-humanism which either explicitly or implicitly remain "human-centred" (focusing on the future of humanity, either in their coming economic redundancy, evolution as a species, or even extinction), this work calls for radical "unhumanisation", the unlearning of human prejudices and ways  of practically living.

The fear that technologies will be "dehumanising" are legitimate but misplaced. They reflect the terror that machines will either be tools by existing elites for their continued exploitation and marginalisation or that this machines will come to rule as if they were human elites themselves.

The danger then is not "unhumanisation" but further "rehumanisation", the reproduction of oppressive human systems and relations with advanced technologies. 

Yet there is still hope in our ability to individually and collectively "unhumanise" ourselves - to accept and explore different ways of existing that transcends these historical human limits.

In ideological and practical terms, this requires the evolution from a repressive emphasis on technological "singularity" to one of creative "integration" conceiving how humans and non-humans can best live together.

This ethos is built above all on mutual welfare and experimentation. It demands, though, recognising that this relation does not start from a place of tabula rasa, in a vacuum where history can be forgotten or denied. Instead for it to be truly forward thinking, humanity must first be willing to look backwards, to the histories of genocide, domination, and colonialism that has largely marked its existence to this point. 

The promise of empowering integrative trans-human world is rooted in the hard work of decolonising our contemporary thinking and "unhumanising" society from this historic legacy.

Booking

 This seminar is free to attend with no need to book in advance. Feel free to bring along your friends, colleagues and classmates.

Speaker bio

Professor Peter Bloom is a Professor of Management at the University of Essex. 

His research critically explores the radical possibilities of technology for redefining and transforming contemporary work and society. It focuses on better understanding the human aspects of organisation existence and the potential for constructing more empowering cultural paradigms for organising the economy and politics.

Specifically, Peter's research originally reveals the strong relationship between economic marketisation and political authoritarianism, the "dark side" of workplace empowermentdiscourses and the role of technology for changing organisations and processes of organising. 

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