Talks / Foredrag

Hvis du er interesseret i at arrangere et foredrag om et af de emner, som jeg normalt skriver og/eller holder oplæg om, så send en mail til mig på robinengelhardt snabel-a gmail.com.

Emner som jeg har holdt oplæg om tidligere:
- evolutionær psykologi
- nudging, framing og change management
- forbrugergenetik og gentests
- læring og læringsspil
- livets og sprogets oprindelse
- tværvidenskabelig og interdisciplinær forskning generelt
- Berlin og DDR

Tidligere foredrag/oplæg:

Berlin
Sammen med Peter Tudvad, Bogforum, 9. november 2012, Stand: Akademisk forlag, AAU.

Erindringer fra DDR
I forbindelse med folkeuniversitetets forelæsningsrække ’Berlin’
22. september 2012, kl. 10.15-16.30, AU, Campus Emdrup, Tuborgvej 164, 2400 Kbh. NV, Bygning D, lokale oplyses i caféområdet.

Erindringer fra DDR
I forbindelse med folkeuniversitetets forelæsningsrække ’Berlin’
6. oktober 2012,  kl. 10.15-16.30, Ny Munkegade 118, 8000 Aarhus C, AU, bygning 1530, lokale oplyses på stedet.

The art of nudging
- or how to change cognitive bias with choice-architecture and frames
FL Smidth
23. november 2011

Om overtalelsens kunst  
- og om hvorfor mennesker hopper på den hele tiden (videnskabeligt set)
Fl Smidth
3. november 2011

Jeg, mine gener og os
- om personlige gentests på nettet og deres betydning
Etisk Råd
2. november 2011

Introduktion til Nudge-paradigmet
Forskning og brug af Nudge-teknologier i Danmark,
Dansk Nudging Netværk, ISSP
27. januar 2011

Samspil mellem fagenes vidensformer og metoder i naturvidenskaben
FoU-konference videnskab og vidensformer
28. oktober 2010 

Me, My Genes and Us
- Personal experiences with commercial gene tests (and some sociological remarks)
Nordic Committee on Bioethics
14. January 2009

Jeg, mine gener og os
Dansk Selskab for Medicinsk Genetik
2. december 2009

Learning experiments with science games
- and how to move science learning out of its self-imposed ghetto
FUND, Trieste Expert Seminar
7. december 2004

Heroic Politics and the Framing of Public Opinion
Conference "Dissensus – Research, Politics, Money and Journalism"
1. June 2007, Copenhagen

Ude af kontrol
- menneskets pagt med teknologien og hvordan vi skal lære at overleve med teknologiske fremskridt, sociale dilemmaer, kloge maskiner og egne mangler.
Krogerup højskole
22. maj 2007

Hvad bliver der tilbage når alt er anderledes?
- at leve sammen med cyborgs, kloge maskiner og kadavre med bankende hjerte.
Etisk Råd
2. december 2004

Om tilblivelsen af ord og syntaks som minimering af fejl i kommunikationen
Indoeuropæisk forening
7. marts 2002




Niels Bohr på udsalg

Når regeringen taler om økonomisk frihed skal man passe på. Aktuelt kan man se det på Københavns Universitet, der lige som andre universiteter er gået fra at være en statsinstitution til at være en såkaldt "selvejende" institution. Selveje er newspeak og betyder hverken at eje bygningerne eller at bestemme hvordan man vil organisere sig. Det betyder eksterne bestyrelser, resultatkontrakter og et faldende huslejetilskud. Med forbilledlig spareiver har man i KU's centraladministration derfor besluttet at reducere KU's byggemasse med 100.000 m2. Ikke nogen nem opgave. I en cocktail af teknokratisk planløsning og manglende dømmekraft forslår et udvalg blandt andet at fraflytte Niels Bohr Instituttet. Og ved denne enestående handling at spare 2.000 m2.

Lad os stilfærdigt minde hinanden om at Niels Bohr Instituttet på Blegdamsvej i København er det mest profilerede fysikinstitut overhovedet. Ikke kun i Danmark, men i hele Norden, i Europa, og sandsynligvis i hele verden. Hvert år får NBI besøg af cirka tre gange så mange fysikere som instituttet selv har gående. Og selvom der ikke laves megen kvantemekanik længere, lever Bohrs ånd videre i bedste velgående i et institut som er et internationalt eftertragtet mødested for de bedste fysikere i verden. Hvordan kan det gå til, at en rektor og en dekan vil ødelægge et sådant unikt forskningsmiljø med et pennestrøg?

Man kunne fristes til tro at forslaget om fraflytning fra NBI var en and. Måske er det også en and. Måske ligger der bag rapperiet i KU's udvalgsnotater en bagtanke om at få flere penge fra staten, noget i retning af "der kan I bare se, kære regering, hvad I får os til at gøre! ... hulk!". Men hvis det er en sådan and, så er det også en uansvarlig and. En and der burde have et rap over svømmefødderne. Andedammen nord for Tyskland er nemlig et alt for skrøbeligt økosystem til at sælge ud af et af de allerstørste kulturelle bidrag, danske forskere har leveret til verdenshistorien.

At opgive lokalerne på Blegdamsvej svarer til at H.C.Andersen-fonden ville flytte H.C.Andersen Huset til Nyborg, fordi der haves nyere lokaler der. Andersen-fondens velkendte økonomiske problemer til trods, ville man ikke have tiltroet dem en sådan tåbelighed. Men med KU er det åbenbart anderledes. Med kunstlet åbenhed har administrationen givet public management konsulenter og geodæter frit spil uden at spørge forskere og studerende om deres behov. Hvorfor skulle man også det, når man tror at forskningsmiljøer kan klones i beton, og at kreativitet kan transporteres i en flyttekasse?

Hele misæren omkring Niels Bohr Instituttet skyldes dog ikke kun en administrations manglende kendskab til egne styrker og svagheder. Den skyldes i høj grad en lang forhistorie af lovændringer som har gjort de danske unvierstiteter "selvejende". Først var det Tvind-sagen som cementerede begrebet selveje således at tilskud til institutioner ikke kunne kanaliseres bort til fx forældreorganisationer. Da Lykketoft i 2001 ændrede statsinstitutionerne til pludselig at være lejere af statens ejendomme, sad KU tilbage med en eksorbitant husleje, som blev regnet ud på markedsvilkår. Det hjalp ikke meget at det tilhørende huslejetilskud skulle udregnes på basis af 'stå', dvs. antallet af studerende der består deres examiner. KU er en historisk institution med mange gamle bygninger i Københavns centrum, hvor gangarealerne ofte er større end kontorerne. Også DTU kom i vanskeligheder og man blev nød til at lave en undtagelse. Det eneste rigtige ville selvfølgelig være at stille universiteterne deres bygninger frit til rådighed, således at de kan opnå en reel økonomisk frihed. Men det ville betyde at staten mistede en vigtig kontrolmekanisme til at føre opsyn med en potentiel modmagt. Noget hverken Venstre eller Socialdemokraterne ønsker at gøre. Tværtimod. Som antropologen Jakob Williams Ørberg fra DPU har observeret, er der kommet en række nye kontrolmekanismer til.

En ledelsesstruktur, hvor bestyrelser har eksternt flertal, udvidet taxameter-management og krav om revision. Der er ikke kommet tilsvarende rettigheder. Universitetssektoren er således under strammere nationalstatskontrol. Det er et velkendt trick at holde folk bort fra at tænke frit, ved at beskæftige dem med at finde smør til brødet, udregne examiner per kvadratmeter, og føre regnskab med sig selv. I dag kaldes det "institutionel selveje". I gamle dage kaldtes det hoveri.

Selvejemodellen sikrer en stram statskontrol over universiteternes finanser såvel som over deres strategiske beslutninger. Og det ligger i naturlig forlængelse af regeringens dobbelttænkning. En strategi der på den ene side ønsker at minimere den offentlige sektor, og på den anden side misbruge den til at opnå politiske mål. I den forstand er universitetsreformerne et perfekt billede for Anders Fogh Rasmussens hamskifte fra minimalstatspræst til præsident af Orwells Oceanien. Og Niels Bohr? Han er på udsalg.

(published in Politiken, 19. November 2006, videnskab, page 3)

The Interactional Expert

If we humans evolved into a smart, sign-processing species, it might be because we are good at mingling with each other; we exchange thoughts and build on each others? ideas, copy actions and habits, and thus create high-level consciousness through mutually negotiated symbols. Somehow, language evolution and consciousness are intertwined with the process of social interaction as it was experienced at the interdisciplinary conference dealing with (and by) the 'Symbolic Species'. Or should we call it the 'Interactional Species'?

By Rut Jesus and Robin Engelhardt

Is it really possible to pass yourself off as an expert in a research field if you have never had any formal training and have never done a second of research? Meet Harry Collins, professor of sociology from the University of Cardiff. Collins wondered if one can acquire a full domain language of a specialized scientific community without having passed all the technical and mathematical entry examinations. To find out, he used himself in an experiment, posing as a gravitational waves physicist, a field he knew well from his sociological enquiries. From Collins' perspective, the experiment was a success: He managed to make actual physicists working within the field of gravitational wave physics believe that he was a full-fledged expert of their field.

This is a story that causes astonishment and creates enemies, as Harry Collins has learned, and the reaction was no different when he recently told it to a group of researchers at the conference "The Symbolic Species" arranged by Learning Lab Denmark at the Danish University of Education and the research priority area 'Body and mind' at the University of Copenhagen.

The theme of the conference was the evolution of the human brain and the development of the highly specialised human language with its use of symbols, and Harry Collins' experiment put a strong social constructivist spin on the theme: the use of the right language and symbols allows us to pose as experts in a field even if we do not have the knowledge to actually participate in the work.

I, physicist
In order to test expertise, Collins used the analysis of intelligence (and applied it to expertise) first proposed by Alan Turing in 1950 and now known as the Turing Test.

Here expertise (or intelligence) is defined as the ability to have a conversation and be accepted as an equal. In the classical Turing Test, the conversation is conducted via keyboards and the challenge for the community is to produce a computer that can give answers that are indistinguishable from those produced by a real human. Given that such interactions are by their very nature open-ended and context-dependent, Collins argues that only a fully socialized intelligence will be able to respond appropriately to any of the new and potentially unknown sentences directed to it.

In this way, Collins' experiment was a Turing test, performed in accordance with Turing's formula: An email with questions (only language-based - to test the acquisition of the domain language) about the subject was sent to a group of wave physicists and to Collins. The replies were sent to a panel of judges, who were also wave physicists. The result: The judges were unable to distinguish Collins from the true wave physicists on the basis of the answers given.

Collins calls this 'interactional expertise' as opposed to 'contributory expertise'. The contributory expert is truly part of a field and can contribute new knowledge. Collins, being 'only' an interactional expert, managed to make the judges believe that he was a full fledged contributory expert, because he was able to talk about the field in a way indistinguishable from how the 'real' experts talked.

A bona fide expert
This report caused a reaction of true astonishment and opposition among the audience at the conference in Copenhagen. Criticism ranged from disbelieving the results of the experiments to disbelieving the premises of the whole thing. "You ARE an expert", some would say. "You were lucky", others said. "Your Turing tests are inappropriate for checking tacit knowledge", others meant. People felt they had been duped, like by a magician on a stage. "I see it, but I don't believe it."

In this situation we have to remind ourselves that scientists createtheir identity through a long and thorough educational process of training and tests. It is therefore difficult to accept the claim that a lay person, a semi-educated wannabe, can pass a Turing test posing as a theoretical physicist. The Israeli mathematician Uri Leron, for instance, insisted that mathematics had to be different. "A non-mathematician can never answer correctly to the question: 'What is the inverse of the Lagrange theorem?'!"

The epistemic cut
Collins' approach touched on one of the major themes of the conference in a novel way, that of where the so-called 'epistemic cut' lies. The place of the epistemic cut has been a matter of philosophical discussion in many fields, from cognitive science to biology to the 'Symbolic Species' conference. This 'cut' concerns the dividing line between subject and object, between the observer and the observed, the knower and the known. In higher level organisms, it could define the separation between brain and mind, giving rise to discussions on the nature of consciousness. It could also be placed at the life/non-life fault, as the Danish biosemiotics researcher Jesper Hoffmeyer suggests by claiming that the dynamic aspects of living organisms possess semiotic characteristics.

Not so with Collins. To him we are a symbolic species in the Wittgensteinian sense. This means we are talking about an imitation game, not a school test in mathematical skills. If we were brought up around lions even without lion claws and lion teeth we could talk about every lion subject that could come up in the family. This means that we can acquire the tacit knowledge of the language belonging to a foreign area without acquiring the tacit knowledge of the practices belonging to that area.

Just talk the talk
Now, what does this imply for the nature of knowledge and the epistemic cut? First of all, it creates a shift in emphasis from embodiment to socialization.

In classical philosophy of knowledge, as formulated for instance by Hubert Dreyfus, the argument is that because lions (or computers) do not possess human bodies they cannot do what humans do. Collins' perspective suggests that the body is not the big issue. The issue is the a-social aspect of lions (or computers) that makes them incapable of becoming human.

This is why natural language is so important for our definition of intelligence and consciousness. People who cannot perform a particular task or skill ? and who cannot acquire the embodied expertise associated with it? can still talk about that skill as if they did posses the embodied skills. Taken to its logical minimum, only the ability to hear and speak is needed.

In terms of the epistemic cut, Collins' experiments might show that we seem to use the term consciousness as a seal of approval for having successfully passed a test of socialization. If you can talk like a duck and walk like a duck, we accept you as a duck. The matter of where in the evolutionary timeline we should look for the transition from no consciousness to consciousness to self-consciousness is therefore a matter of inter-species negotiations about kinship. The 'language' of such a negotiation can have many forms: chemical signals, visual clues or spoken words.

It is very refreshing that Collins does not try to discuss a way by which to expose these 'false experts'. For him they are obviously not false experts but just interactional experts, sometimes fulfilling an important role in a scientific domain.

Managers for example, don't need to know everything about the competencies and knowledge of a company. They solve other problems of interaction, and even sometimes of subject, although they may be quite ignorant about the underlying theories and methodologies.

What Collins did, rather, was to question the way education is testing people for their domain knowledge. What is most important: To be able to think and frame a problem like a physicist or to solve equation x according to y? Our science education is, as Collins said, excluding very talented out-of-the-box thinking people just because they can't do the math.

(published in DPU Quarterly, 31 October 2006)
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