Welcome to Machine Agencies!

This is a human nonhuman collaboration that came into being in Milieux Institute in Concordia University.

We are an interdisciplinary group of researchers working with various topics associated with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related technologies. The main questions that the research group works with come from social and cultural concerns.

Please check our events page for the public events.

The group aims to investigate what kinds of cultural resources are mobilized to define the activities of AI agents in various contexts (e.g. games, domestic spaces). In the current cultural landscape, the agencies of these artifacts are mainly defined by commercial discourses: they are assistants (Alexa), pets (Aibo), and friends (Replika). Machine Agencies problematizes this flow of meaning: coming from the market and into situated social interactions. Technologies carry with themselves traces of meaning that are inscribed through their context of production, and thus frames with which they circulate the market – their advertising, the manner in which they are imagined in the market- becomes more and more involved in the daily lives of people. It could be said that the imaginaries of such technologies -especially Artificial Intelligence agents- are dominated by the commercial discourses. However, there are possibilities for different articulations of these technologies to emerge, and this group questions what would be the conditions through which various frames of meaning could come into being. Machine Agencies, thus, aims to contribute to culture different categories with which to understand such agents, and in this sense, it takes seriously the social sciences’ potential for producing transformative knowledge. Consequently, the research group addresses the gap between academia and public discourse; and holds a transformative approach to bridge that gap.

How can we change our conventional understanding of these agents?

What other types of interactions could we cultivate with AI agents?

What different imaginaries could develop around the relations with machinic agents?

What kinds of futures are coming into being through the circulation of AI technologies?

We believe that interdisciplinary work plays an important role in tightening the gap between engineering, artistic creation, social discourses, and political consequences of AI.

Our projects aim at investigating different aspects of new technologies through research-creation, producing games, artistic exhibitions, and publications. The project Machine Agents is a project from the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology, from Concordia University, in Montreal.