Subject of the dissertation is Alan Mathison Turing’s imitation game, established in its most famous version in 1950. Known today as the Turing test, it still sets a standard against which Artificial Intelligence and its capabilities are measured.
Furthermore the dissertation is a case study for the methodological superpositioning of methods of Media Archaeology and Feminist Science and Technology Studies (or to be more precise: New Materialism) for the analysis of digital media. Therefore the classical imitation game and its earlier versions (including the universal Turing machine from 1936) are media archaeologically examined and intertwined with feminist readings regarding the – for many scholars surprising – occurrence of gender in the first versions of the Turing test. On this basis the dissertation establishes a suitable and productive explanation for this gendered approach in Turing’s work about AI by diffractively reading the different subjects and methods through one another, following the methodology of the feminist quantum physicist Karen Barad. Direct result of this diffractive approach is the demonstration of a particular posthumanist understanding of human-machine-couplings in Turing’s work on a solid interdisciplinary ground. On a more conceptual level the dissertation uses this result to evaluate the suitability of an intertwining of Media Archaeology with Karen Barad’s Agential Realism for the analysis of digital media.
Prostheses are, more than any other technical artefact, directly connected to the human body, so that one cannot reflect on prosthetics without considering the body as well. Questions about its aesthetic and functional norms and (self-)awarenes – especially of gendered bodies (Geschlechtskörper) – demand a response. Based on the assumption of Doing Gender through the use of technology, this PhD project interrogates the construction of masculinity in terms of materialising bodily processes and functions through prosthetics – a Doing Sex through technology, so to speak. For that, an understanding of prosthetics that goes beyond their meaning as apparatuses, and instead takes into account further practices of gendered physical prostheses, needs to be applied: Besides corpus cavernosum (erectile tissue) or testicle implants as material-like prostheses, hormone therapies and other active pharmaceutical substances can be seen as chemical prostheses, and plastic surgery as organic prosthesis. Because it has been considered as the »quasi geschlechtsloser Normkörper« (“quasi gender- and sex-less normative body”, Wöllmann 2005: 140), focus will be placed on the cis male (techno-)body, whose scientific objectification and medicalization is still considered as a desideratum. The 1960s, when the field of Andrology emerged, which can be seen as the site of the »Neuerfindung des Männerkörpers« (“reinvention of the male body”, ibid.), neglected by gender studies so far, will serve as a time frame. The initial research questions are: Which perceptions of (hegemonic) masculinity can be found in the pursued goals of therapies implemented by medicine, and therefore in the design of products of medical technology? How do these technologies in turn shape the gendered body and social normative expectations on sex, gender, and sexuality? This dissertation project sees itself as part of feminist science and technology studies and aims to contribute to the field of critical medical, as well as masculinity, studies.
Optimierung von Radprofilen unter alten und neuen Fahrwerkstechniken und New Materialism
The term ‘optimization’ always leads to the follow-up question of which aspects of a system or object are to be optimized. A classic criterion for optimization in railroad technology is the minimization of material loss, so that wheels can be used for as long as possible without re-profiling.
In this PhD project, I want to interweave the work processes of wheel profile development in transport science with the methodological approaches of New Materialism. I hope to achieve two goals: On the one hand, the entanglement of engineering work in the rail sector with discourses of Feminist Science and Technology Studies and, on the other hand, the creation of an example of how the New Materialist methodologies can be applied. Barad, Haraway, and ANT outline my theoretical framework in the field of New Materialism. Furthermore, this may lead to new understandings of the concept of optimization.
The schedule for the tread profile optimization is as follows: Understanding the problems of the currently-used tread profile S 1002, finding applications for the new wheel profile, defining geometrical parameters, elaborating different wheel profile geometries, testing the wheel profile by simulation, discussing the results, possibly further cycles of optimization and, if the financing works out, testing the new wheel profile on a real train and/or on a test rig.
The outlined schedule can be linked to the theories of New Materialism at various points. For example, it might be interesting to analyse the scale according to which optimal is defined, or the influences of political or economic interests of human actors on the development process. The points of entanglement will emerge in the course of the thesis, since new and very exciting details will be emerging constantly.
The evolution of automation in pharmaceutical analysis from the perspective of gender studies
supervised by Herrn Prof. Dr. Hermann Wätzig (Technische Universität Braunschweig)
My subject is the automation of sample preparation in pharmaceutical analysis. This ought to contrast how humans and machines operate. Quality in drug production can often be improved if the „disruptive man“ can be avoided, e.g. if low-germ or even sterile production is required. Computerized analysis produces fast and accurate results, but a high technical know-how is necessary. Considering all these issues, will humans be replaced? Or will the result be a cooperation between human and machine, since humans are important due to their creative and cognitive talents?
Through automation, I will attempt to achieve process optimization in the quality control of monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies have a wide range of uses, e.g. in rheumatology, chemotherapy, or as a tumour marker. Furthermore, I deal with the evaluation of highly complex multidimensional data, which will be obtained, for example, by LC-MS. Who can be more suitable for this task? Human or machine? Would it be possible to use the newly-developed intelligent assistant systems by Google, who can defeat Go Players, for analytical questions? Throughout the project I will compare the ways men and women work. Are there differences from the first steps of sample preparation all the way to data evaluation? Are they age-dependent? In order to determine this, an observational study of students of Braunschweig Technical University and the Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences will be performed. Through questionnaires, a survey will be carried out about attitudes to automation and their consequences. Are there gender-specific differences? Which use, or rather what improvements, could be brought about through automation?
Biohacking and Orthorexia as methods of self-optimization and Technologies of the Self, examined through the perspective of Gender Studies and Science and Technology Studies
supervised by Prof. Dr. Bettina Wahrig (Technische Universität Braunschweig)
Citius, altius, fortius! How can I get fitter, healthier, (almost) immortal? The desire to do the impossible, to halt the ticking clock of life, is as old as humanity itself. But under the name “biohacking” this desire has been revived in the last few years, supported by current technological developments. The market fulfills our desire for self-monitoring, observation, and profiling – and demands it at the same time. Physical health is the new form of bodily capital that can be transformed into economic capital. This trend is predominantly on the rise in the food sector. Terms like “clean eating”, “detoxing” or “slow food” are taking root (in contrast to “convenience” and “fast food”) and orthorexia, a pathological form of nutrition, is being discussed as an eating disorder. Through social media these new types of nutrition are getting more coverage than older ones and are normalized. Communities form around eating habits as a (quasi-religious) lifestyle and individuals define themselves through those habits. The kitchen transforms into a place where “Do it Yourself” and technology are strongly connected: food, as natural as possible, is being processed with the help of cutting edge technology. The juicer, the high-powered blender, and the spiralizer have become must-have devices. Who are those biohackers* and who is susceptible to orthorexia? What does it mean to see the body as capital and which health principles underlie that view? What characterizes influencers*, how is food labeled for different genders, and what discriminations are (re)produced? Does self-optimization have any emancipatory or disciplining effects and what (purity-based) ideologies does it represent? What role do communication technologies that are independent from time and space, like wearables, apps and socialmedia networks, have? What (future) requirements for technology (e.g. the Internet of Things) arise in this context? What will increasing self-optimization mean for society and science, and how are professionals in the social and health sector (un)intentionally handling this phenomenon?
supervised by Herrn Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Hecker (Technische Universität Braunschweig
During the past decades, the cockpit of commercial airplanes has changed considerably, mainly due to the development and sophistication of automation. Pilots are now mostly responsible for the programming and supervising of these systems. Their work is, therefore, decreasingly physical and increasingly cognitive. In order to cope with the cognitive workload, pilots usually work in teams of two – a pilot flying and a pilot monitoring. But how does such a cognitive team work? Research on team cognition tackles this question, and understands teams as information-processing entities consisting of two interacting processing levels: of the individual and of the team. In this context, Pilots are especially interesting, because they constitute highly specialized teams performing complex cognitive tasks.
Team cognition can be affected by various factors, such as personality, motivation, gender, or cultural differences. The effects of gender in particular are interesting in the context of the cockpit, given that female pilots are still highly underrepresented. The research on gender in aviation is, however, scarce and focuses mostly on biological sex. This project aims at filling this gap and providing some initial insights into aspects of gender affecting team cognition in the cockpit.
This will be done through empirical study, allowing the observation of teamwork in a laboratory setting. Qualitative as well as quantitative data will be collected via questionnaire as well as a flight simulator study with teams of male and female pilots, in combination with eye tracking. The project can, therefore, provide further insights into team cognition in general and in the cockpit environment specifically. It can also reveal implications for the future development of automation tools, where automation is seen as a synthetic teammate. Furthermore, the project provides a broader account of gender and aims at establishing an awareness of its effects in engineering.
Gender and diversity in steel construction: design, planning and communication
supervised by Frau Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bath (Technische Universität Braunschweig) and Herrn Prof. Dr. sc. techn. Klaus Thiele (Technische Universität Braunschweig).
The subject of this research is the planning process of projects in construction engineering, especially in steel construction. In particular, the methods applied will aim to investigate more precisely gender roles in a rather male-dominated field. The three disciplines of planning processes, gender studies, and engineering will, therefore, be put into context, so that points of contact between them can be identified. From these, corresponding conclusions should be drawn, so that, finally, problem solutions can be developed. Methodologically, the project is characterised by a participatory approach to all interdisciplinary aspects of the planning process.
This work belongs both to the field of Design and Communication Strategy and to that of construction engineering. In order to answer its research questions, it draws upon design studies, gender studies, science and technology studies, as well as the philosophy of science. The point of departure is that in an interconnected, interdisciplinary, strongly collaborative planning process in construction projects, some points still need to be clarified due to increasing technical and organizational complexity. In the first phase of this dissertation project, the planning process in steel construction will be described in as much detail as possible. The next step will be to identify the participating actors, human-machine interfaces, interaction artefacts, and possible risks.
a) How do existing planning strategies represent the issues particular to steel construction (prefabricated elements, pre-planning, the central role of scheduling) and what are the risks?
b) How do you develop intuitive face-to-face communication into interdisciplinary models of cooperation, including time and production structures of the planning process and those involved in the project?
c) What influence does gender have on the development of cooperation models and what impact do these gendered aspects have on the acceptance and use of innovative planning methods?
Personalization of mechatronic systems in automotive applications
supervised by Frau Prof. Dr.-Ing. Xiaobo Liu-Henke (Ostfalia Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften
On the one hand, cars are everyday objects, used by a wide range of people. Drivers, therefore, are very heterogeneous. On the other hand, the number of mechatronic systems in automotive applications is constantly rising. Many of these systems are interacting intensively with the driver. Each driver develops specific drive habits and has different requirements of the individual vehicle’s mechatronic systems. However, this is not sufficiently taken into account in the design process. In the development of the Human Machine Interface (MMI) in particular, significant gender and target group-specific differences in handling and perception are to be expected, which should be included into future design processes.
The objective of this doctoral research project is to analyse the demands on mechatronic systems in automotive applications from the driver’s perspective, the methods used to design mechatronic systems, and the mechatronic system itself, from the perspective of gender. Based on the research results, a methodology that incorporates the new requirements in the design process and replicates them in the mechatronic system is to be developed. In order to validate the proposed changes and the resulting systems, both processes are to be applied to a specific vehicle system (e.g. steering system) and the results will be analytically evaluated through the methods of gender studies. This is intended to personalize the characteristics of mechatronic systems and make the design of the automobile more gender-equitable.
Genderaspects in the ergonomics of human-computer interaction
supervised by Frau Prof. Dr. Lilia Lajmi (Ostfalia Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften)
The research project “Gender aspects in the ergonomics of human-computer interaction” aims at analysing usage contexts, expectations, and behaviour in the field of information technology with regard to gender aspects. Furthermore, an overview of the gender neutrality of existing interaction systems is of particular importance. Based on the DIN EN ISO 9241-110 standard for the design of graphical user interfaces, this project is to examine to what extent gender conformity can be included in the existing guidelines as a supplementary design objective.
User-centred system development and usability play an important role and lead to intuitive system use. It is particularly important to understand users in order to evaluate existing systems or to develop new concepts. In the research on relevant perception and decision-making processes, therefore, diverse lived experiences of men and women should also be considered. In the course of a generalized perception of users or user groups in the software development process, however, important gender aspects are often not taken into account.
It is to be assumed that through a gender-appropriate design process, target group-oriented and needs-based user interfaces can be developed.
This research project will combine theoretical and empirical analysis. Current empirical research is also to be reviewed for the existence of comparable studies, from which methodological guidelines and operationalizations can be developed in this research project. Furthermore, an empirical study will be designed and implemented using methods of usability engineering and gender studies.
Field of Research 3: Materialization - Virtualization - Representation
Representation and Gender Aspects of Autonomous Social Robots
supervised by Herrn Prof. Dr.-Ing. Reinhard Gerndt (Ostfalia Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften
Robots that enable an absent person or artificial entity to become an embodied presence are increasingly moving into the public eye. They serve as guides in museums, exhibitions, and shops or as avatars in meetings or care situations. Work on the seal robot Paro shows that physical presence enables new forms of human-machine interaction and at the same time raises new questions on the design of technical artefacts. What do specific types of users and others affected want from a robot’s support? And which form of embodiment and interaction will users accept? This doctoral thesis examines these functional and creative aspects using the example of the above-mentioned fields of application. Thereby, the focus is on the component of the emotional human-machine interaction, which is of central importance to the area of health care (for example care of the elderly, or dealing with children). At the same time, gender aspects and the acceptance of interaction with robots are particularly relevant. A simple telepresence robot, which is variable in its range of functions and design, serves as a technology basis. Research fields relevant to the project include (engineering) computer science and design and gender, specifically diversity studies.
Queer Matter(s): On the Real and the Not-Yet of Matter. A Study towards a queer-technophilosophical Reading of Matter, Possibility, Reality and Utopia.
supervised by Frau Prof. Dr. Bettina Wahrig (Technische Universität Braunschweig)
"Hope will never be silent."
- Harvey Milk
Queer thinking and acting seek utopia; technological thinking and acting seek utopia: Utopia, i.e. the possibility of a better world in the mode of Not-Yet that strives towards its fulfilment in a dialectical process with reality; it is a non-place, which is not abstract but a concrete otherness that someday might be. Queer utopias look for the Foucauldian happy limbo of a non-identity, i.e. living beyond binary, heteronormative thinking. Technological utopias long impatiently for the (yet) impossible, i.e., in Hegelian understanding, achieving the end without the means. This Ph.D. project tries to find connections between the (new) Materialism of Ernst Bloch (famous for “The Principle of Hope” and his utopian thinking) and the contemporary positions and debates of New Materialism around Karen Barad’s work. It will focus on matter and its contribution to possibility and reality, the question, that is, of whether matter is a mere passive object or an active agent. For technophilosophy, this raises a question: how can an established concept, such as the causa materialis, be combined with the New Materialism and how does our view of the world change, knowing that there are non-human agents with whom humans are intra-acting? So, the Ph.D. project is dedicated to basic questions in the epistemology and philosophy of technology with a queer-feminist approach, as well as trying to save the principle of hope – for a queer new world.
The cluster‘s mother in a kingdom of bullshit. Gendered dynamics of surveillance in contemporary Science Fiction series
supervised by Frau Prof. Dr. Heike Klippel (Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig
In the realm of contemporary (US-centric) Science Fiction series, technologies and practices of (self-)documentation are negotiated, on the one hand, as a universal mode of posthuman BeingCyborg, and, on the other hand, simultaneously, as inherently gendered disciplinary tools of surveillance in a permanent, performative “doing technology”. In both cases, their traces can be found on the symbolic level in orchestrations of (hegemonic) femininities and (troubled) masculinities, inscribed on fictional characters just as much as in the technologies and machines themselves. Thereby, a hetero-sexual-normative gender dichotomy is reproduced as well as undermined: automedial processes of subjectification open up (queer) areas of action, where posthumanist intervention and transgression (for the individual just as much as for the collective) beyond a dualistic difference become conceivable. These (potentially utopian) realms of action are the focus of this dissertation.
In a two-level content analysis of narrative, aesthetic, and structural negotiations of dynamics of surveillance in, and around, contemporary Science Fiction series, I aim to conceptualize modes of (self-)documentation as a Foucauldian dispositif, in which diverse narratives, technologies, institutions, and practices come together to create an ubiquitous system of gendered surveillance. Methodologically, this means a combination of a text-based close reading with discourse analysis, to situate the considered series in their respective environments of production and distribution. The latter seems necessary considering the series’ own dependence on technologies and practices of (self-)documentation via social media in the quickly evolving landscape of convergent media in the times of Web 2.0 and 3.0, a landscape which is itself ambivalently exposed to the same gendered mechanisms of surveillance.
Usable Security and Privacy in the Internet of Things - a Pattern-based Approach
Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are an emerging trend. Often, however, security and privacy requirements are not adequately considered, leading to flawed products. The lack of transparency and intervenability is especially critical for end-users. In order to allow users to exercise their right to informational self-determination, applications for certain IoT use cases will be developed in the context of this project. The use cases will then be analysed with respect to security and privacy requirements, and especially usability. In particular the following two use cases will be considered: Assistance for people with executive dysfunction, as well as an integration of laboratory devices into dynamically organized workflows. From the experience of the use cases, security and privacy patterns for IoT will be derived. These patterns ought to facilitate the development of IoT applications, where security and privacy requirements are respected already from the design phase, as well as during the operation. The use cases address a diverse range of end users in regard to age, gender, and technological experience, so that they can perceive digitalization as an opportunity for them.
The Gender of Technology; Approaching a Feminist Actor-Network Theory
supervised by Frau Prof. Dr. Ulrike Bergermann (Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig
The concept of New Media describes a major change in technologies and their social uses from analogue to digital media. Key terms characterizing this change are interactivity, hypertext, and virtuality. They are characterized by new images of the flexible, the flowing, and the differentiation in process; gendered images of transformation. Media and their specific uses are, however, mistaken almost exclusively for genderless and, supposedly, neutral objects, whereby the (re)producing properties of society and gender are lingering in hiding. For a scientific recording of media transformations, new perspectives are, therefore, needed on the subject of media in order to decipher the images mentioned and take their effects seriously. Actor-Network Theory (ANT) offers such a perspective, which allows the actions of human and non-human actors to be taken seriously in their interconnectedness.
This PhD Project focuses on Actor-Network Theory and gender in sales environments and sales negotiations in digital technologies and digital media. With a research perspective inspired by Actor-Network Theory, the project asks how gender and gender inequality are produced in this human-machine encounter. The dissertation project stands out through an innovative approach to the field of media studies, since it integrates the material practices of use and sale with new digital media. It is located at the intersection of media studies, media sociology, science and technology studies, and empirical social research. The Actor-Network Theory, which is relevant to all these disciplines/subjects, is to theoretically develop out of a gender-sensitive perspective and to be contrasted with and enriched by empirical case studies in the field of new digital media distribution, which has not yet been explored from this perspective.
Gender-Innovation im Wissenschaftsfeld der Informatik? Die Rolle internationaler (Post-)Doktorandinnen
supervised by Frau Prof. Dr. phil. Sabine Brombach (Ostfalia Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaft)
Despite changes in traditional gender roles, the percentage of men in technical fields continues being higher than average in Germany. In order to investigate the effect of gender in those subject areas, universities, as places of innovation, are an interesting field of research. A special chance to attract more women among academic staff in technical subjects lies in increasing globalisation. Computer science, in particular, exhibits a high participation rate of women in some countries, for example Malaysia. Prior research on the topic of women and technology in higher education often considers gender in an isolated way. A current increasing internationalisation increasingly demands an investigation of the interrelation between gender and other categories of social inequality, such as ethnicity and socioeconomic status, which is what my doctoral project aims to do. Bourdieu’s works on conflicts of power in social fields provide the theoretical foundation. Besides specific challenges in the professional environment, experiences in everyday life that influence career positioning will be investigated. Against this background, this doctoral project explores how female international scientists in the (post-)doctoral period – a transitional stage in the academic field –at German universities get along in the specific subject area of computer science, and to what extent they contribute to “Gendered Innovations” (Schiebinger 2008) that challenge male structures. In order to respond to this research question, an intersectional study will be conducted, in which qualitative interviews are central. The study’s methodological basis is Grounded Theory, which, especially through its principle of openness, makes the investigation of new phenomena possible.
Human and Automatic Emotion Recognition in the Light of Gender
supervised by Herrn Prof. Dr.-Ing. Tim Fingscheidt (Technische Universität Braunschweig)
The study of team meetings includes dealing with attention spans, problem handling, and the emotional states of each team member. In order to carry out research, a large number of meetings have to be precisely observed and analysed according to research topic.
Because of the absence of automatic processes, most of the evaluation and investigation is done manually, which consumes a lot of time and is less accurate. This project is to use my knowledge of signal processing and programming skills to develop an automatic process that can decrease the effort the so-far human-dependent observation and evaluation require. My goal is, therefore, to support the physiologists and sociologists, save them effort, and make their work more efficient.
The first target of this work is to automatically distinguish each team member as an individual speaker (Speaker derivation) using a speech recording made by a microphone placed in the meeting room.
The second target is automatic emotion recognition and the analysis of gender aspects.