Science, technology and being human


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Science, technology and being human

Whether you use Facebook or Twitter, digital technology has seeped into virtually every aspect of our lives. This year’s Being Human festival of the humanities takes a closer look at how humanities research contributes to our understanding of being human in an age of science and technology.

See below for a sample of science and technology themed events from across the festival programme. Other themes explored include health and wellbeing, politics, diversity, and arts and culture.

‘What we need from the humanities’ panel discussion | London | Thursday 12 November

From religion to experimental physics, surgery to economics, we will hear from those who need the humanities to inform their work. Panellists include experimental physicist and science writer Dame Athene Donald, clergyman and journalist Reverend Dr Giles Fraser, economist professor John Kay, psychologist, writer and broadcaster Claudia Hammond and surgeon, author and television presenter Miss Gabriel Weston. The discussion is chaired by professor Sarah Churchwell.

Bright ideas: the art and science of light | Aberdeen | Thursday 12 November and throughout the festival

This exhibition showcases objects from the University of Aberdeen Museum’s scientific instrument, human culture and science collections, many on display for the first time. The exhibition will be on throughout the festival.

The Meaning of Science | London | Thursday 12 November

Join Tim Lewens, author of ‘The Meaning of Science’ (Pelican Books), as he tackles big questions about reality and human nature.

Digital Women’s Archive North [DWAN] at the Working Class Movement Library | Manchester | Thursday 12 November and other dates throughout festival

The Digital Women’s Archive North [DWAN] will appear as a pop-up in various partnering archive and heritage sites, to host a series of workshops showcasing archives on women’s histories.

Sounds that move us | London | Friday 13 November

Come and explore the ‘sounds that move us’ in this special evening blending multisensory science and philosophy with talks by musicians and researchers, demonstrations of sonic illusions, digital mapping, and even ‘sonic shoes’.

The Quantified Romantics | Aberystwyth | Saturday 14 November

Participantes will view projected images of gothic paintings and pages from Romantic novels while biometric data are collected with ‘smart’ wristbands. The event includes talks on gothic art and literature and on the technology at the heart of today’s smart watches and fitness trackers.

Defining digital Dickens | Buckingham | Saturday 14 November, Tuesday 17 November, Thursday 19 November

Researchers from the University of Buckingham are planning a Dickensian voyage of discovery. Working with partners, among them schools and London’s Charles Dickens museum, their workshops, films, readings, exhibitions and performances will extend a two-year project that uses digital technologies and crowdsourcing to generate interest in the Victorian author’s work.

New Cross data tourists | London | Saturday 14 November

Join us for an interactive walking tour of New Cross. Participants will be given a device developed by the to try out on the streets and public spaces of New Cross.

The REACTion chamber | Exeter | Saturday 14 November

This event creates a space for the public to interact with researchers and projects dealing with knowledge exchange, cultural experimentation and the development of innovative digital technologies in the creative economy.

The music of light: concert | Durham | Saturday 14 November

‘The music of light: concert’ explores light through music, and its connections to other expressions of the phenomenon and power of light. It will feature new work by local composer Janet Graham, and pieces by Bach, Rachmaninov, Handel, Part and others.

Hidden tales of the Theatre Royal: animating the archive | Nottingham | Sunday 15 November

From stage door dramas and ghosts in the old hotel, visitors will experiment with new technologies to access different stories from the theatre’s historic collections and bring its past to life as well as highlight other locations in the city centre.

Data bodies: You are my data youth workshop | London | Sunday 15 November

Two workshops will look at privacy issues for young people when it comes to data gathering, mining, and exploitation, in an attempt to make such practices more transparent.

Humanising music technology | London | Monday 16 November

This event focuses on the intricate relationship between technology and creativity. Participants will have the opportunity to make music using a ‘hackable’ electronic instrument.

Being (digital) humans | London | Tuesday 17 November

A panel in which four ‘digital humanists’ will introduce their work and explain how research in the digital humanities is affecting everything from how we engage with culture in museums, to how we navigate the cities around us.

Being human/being animal | London | Thursday 19 November

Using the specimens and objects from the collections of the Hunterian Museum, this event will highlight what animals have taught us about ‘being human’ in the histories of health and medicine.

@NeinQuarterly: Being Human and Twitter | London | Thursday 19 November

A presentation by Professor Eric Jarosinski, creator of @NeinQuarterly – a successful Twitter account with a persona that deploys perfect, 140-character aphorisms that capture the contradictions, harshness and absurdity of modern life as it could have been interpreted by Adorno, Nietzsche and Benjamin.

Cyberselves exhibition | Sheffield | Thursday 19 November

This hands-on demonstration and talk by Dr Michael Szollosy and team from Sheffield Robotics will take your thinking to a whole new level about how our everyday lives are being transformed by our participation in cyber-worlds.

Creative acoustics | Cambridge | Thursday 19 November

This series of workshops explores the creative potential of combining audio recording techniques with acoustic surveys of heritage sites and applying them to film, television and music productions.

Visualising data: aesthetics and analysis | London | Thursday 19 November

This lecture will reveal the analytical power and aesthetic beauty of data visualisation, revealing the ways in which the human becomes the virtual, and the virtual becomes the visual – and the physical.

Expl[AR]ing humanities | Belfast | Friday 20 November

This full-day workshop will introduce participants to innovative and expressive ways to navigate and explore the spaces of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, using augmented reality mobile applications. All welcome. No previous coding experience necessary.

From platonic love to Internet pornography | Brighton | Friday 20 November

The event will consist of a short film and discussion, exploring the question: What is the role of sexuality in our contemporary world?

Lucy’s secret: digital neo-Victorian train adventure | London | Friday 20 November

A fully interactive digital adventure, this event invites amateur sleuths to investigate a mystery using provided clue cards.

Rebuilding Marvell’s Hull with Minecraft | Hull | Saturday 21 November

This interactive workshop will be on-hand to help participants use Minecraft to build four key landmarks from Andrew Marvell’s Hull – Beverley Gate, Holy Trinity Church, Hull Grammar School and the Hull Charterhouse.

Being posthuman? | Liverpool | Saturday 21 November

Through a film screening, discussion forum and poster display, we will explore representations of cyborgs, digital consciousness and virtual environments, asking questions about how technology is changing us, our attitudes towards artificial intelligence, and considering what our relationship with machines might say about ‘being human’.

Digital Dartmoor | Exeter | Saturday 21 November

This event is a practical workshop facilitated by museum and university staff, which includes a visit to the museum and Dartmoor, where attendees can tell their moor story with photos, text or video.

Revealing local history: London | London and Gloucester | Saturday 21 November

This Wikipedia edit-a-thon allows those taking part to create and enhance local history Wikipedia articles using Victoria County History (VCH) and British History Online (BHO) materials.