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Robots & Artificial Intelligence


Admission requirements

This is an Honours Elective module meant for second and if places available third year students of the Honours College FSW programme, Science & Society track. You have to participate in at least one Honours Elective module in your second year.


Computational systems are becoming matters of ever greater public concern. Artificial intelligence increasingly manages financial markets, state bureaucracies, and media infrastructures. Robots are now ubiquitous in industrial manufacturing, agricultural production, and care work. These transformations raise new ethical and political concerns, ranging from the displacement of labour to the rise of algorithmically reproduced discrimination.

This course examines these transformations through a social-scientific lens. Possible topics include: race, gender, sexuality, and disability in robotics and artificial intelligence; the shifting relations of gender in the history of computing; the automation of labour in modern capitalism; the growth of the internet as a military, academic, and commercial project; the material infrastructures that make global communication possible, such as undersea fiber-optic cables; the theoretical assumptions of contemporary research in machine learning and human-computer interaction; the emergence of hacker and hacktivist cultures.

Course objectives

After successful completion of this course, you will:

  • be familiar with the latest scientific insights on the social and cultural dimensions of digital computing, with an emphasis on artificial intelligence and robotics;

  • be familiar with the latest scientific debates on how artificial intelligence and robotics are reconfiguring human life; and

  • be able to think carefully about the political consequences of novel computational technologies


Date Time Location Room
28 February 2023 18:00-20:00 Pieter de la Courtbuilding 1B01
14 March 2023 18:00-20:00 Pieter de la Courtbuilding 1B01
28 March 18:00-20:00 Pieter de la Courtbuilding 1B01
18 April 2023 18:00-20:00 Pieter de la Courtbuilding 1B01
9 May 2023 18:00-20:00 Pieter de la Courtbuilding 1B01
23 May 2023 18:00-20:00 Pieter de la Courtbuidling 1B01

Preliminary literature list

This list illustrates examples of literature. The definitive list will be published on Brightspace before the start of the course.

Benanav, Aaron. 2019. “Automation and the Future of Work—1.” New Left Review, no. 119 (October): 5–38.
Benjamin, Ruha. 2019. “Introduction: Discriminatory Design, Liberating Imagination.” In Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life, edited by Ruha Benjamin, 1–22. Durham: Duke University Press.
Coleman, Gabriella. 2009. “Code Is Speech: Legal Tinkering, Expertise, and Protest among Free and Open Source Software Developers.” Cultural Anthropology 24 (3): 420–54.
Haraway, Donna. 1991. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” In Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, 149–81. New York: Routledge.
Schaffer, Simon. 1994. “Babbage’s Intelligence: Calculating Engines and the Factory System.” Critical Inquiry 21 (1): 203–27.
Seaver, Nick. 2017. “Algorithms as Culture: Some Tactics for the Ethnography of Algorithmic Systems.” Big Data & Society 4 (2).
Suchman, Lucy. 2007. "Figuring the Human in AI and Robotics" and "Demystifications and Reechantments of the Humanlike Machine." In Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions, 226–58. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Starosielski, Nicole. 2015. “Fixed Flow: Undersea Cables as Media Infrastructure.” In Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructures, edited by Lisa Parks and Nicole Starosielski, 53–70. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.
Turing, A. M. 1950. “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” Mind LIX (236): 433–60.




Registration via uSis with the catalogue number: 6402HCROBW.

You can register for the Elective Honours Modules via uSis until five days before the start of the course.

Courses starting in semester 2: registration opens December 13th.

Contact information

If you have any questions, please contact Honours College FSW