Workshop "Between Hype and Conspiracy: Can We Engage with Conspiracy Theorists?" - Dr Stephen Hughes (UCL)

“A neuralnanorobotically enabled human brain/cloud interface might serve as a personalized conduit […] to engage in fully immersive experiential/sensory experiences, including what is referred to here as ‘transparent shadowing’. Through transparent shadowing, individuals might experience episodic segments of the lives of others.”

This quote doesn’t come from a conspiracy theory blog about the Great Reset, but rather from a 2019 paper from Frontiers in Neuroscience. This talk will explore the relationship between hype and conspiracy, asking whether scientists might be contributing to conspiracy theorists deepest fears and how we might address it.

I will draw on research I am conducting as a responsible innovation consultant on a European research project that is developing touchless haptic technology using neurocognitive AI. I will discuss the narratives that researchers use to imagine the technology and its applications (e.g., the movie Demolition Man) and how these narratives converge with conspiracy imaginaries of bio-applied AI as a plot to enslave humanity.

Preparation – Design a conspiracy theory flier based on some research taking place in your institution. We will discuss the fliers during the workshop.
(The idea of the flier is to discuss the underlying social tensions beneath the conspiracy theories as they relate to researchers’ own work).
The workshop will last 2 hours and include a break with light refreshments.