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Alex Taylor: Living a Larger Life Together

February 20, 2023 @ 11:30 am - 1:00 pm

Times are shown in Eastern Time

How to Participate:

Participants are invited to attend in-person at North Quad (105 S. State St, Ann Arbor Michigan 48109), Room 2245. In-person RSVP.

Hybrid participants can join via Zoom: https://umich.zoom.us/j/92146665462


I’ll use this talk to think in broader terms about technology’s impact on our lives and whether there’s a different way we can approach technology’s design. I want to ask the question: “are we thinking and doing well with technology and its design?”

Through two examples, I’ll invite us to reflect on some of the core tenets in technology and design, ideas like human centredness, mediation and augmentation. I’ll propose such tenants are now limiting our imaginations. They have us narrowing our attention and reinforcing a utilitarian individualism. They leave little space for a design open to the always entangled interplay between human and nonhuman actors, or for questions about the structural arrangements that value (or devalue) capacities for being and acting in the world.

I’ll argue that there is an alternative, much more generative way of thinking about technology and its design, one committed to capacities that are always in relation with others and always becoming. This is an expansive idea of capacities that recognizes the correspondences, interdependencies, continual attunements and co-makings between diverse human and nonhuman actors. It is to ask what it might be to create the conditions for more to happen, what a design would look like that holds open the space for relations to proliferate and much more varied forms of life to come into being. This, I want to propose, is an alternative that is full with the hope of living a larger life together.



Alex Taylor is a sociologist working in the Centre for Human Centred Design, at City, University of London. Showing a broad fascination for the entanglements between social life and machines, his research ranges from empirical studies of technology in everyday life to speculative design interventions—both large and small. Across these realms, he draws on a feminist technoscience to ask questions about the co-constitutive roles human-machine composites play in forms of knowing and being, and how they might open up possibilities for fundamental transformations in society. Most recently, he’s begun to wonder about the abilities of humans and non-humans, together, and to speculate on hybrid compositions that enlarge capacity and offer the chance of something different, something more.

This event is hosted by the Michigan Interactive and Social Computing group (MISC), and is co-sponsored by the Center for Ethics, Society & Computing (ESC).

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