Tag: disability

LaMDA and the Limits of Sentience

In early June, Blake Lemoine, then an engineer at Google, claimed that LaMDA, a Machine Learning-based chatbot, was sentient and needed to be treated with respect. LaMDA stands for Language Model for Dialog Applications. AI chatbots are designed to interpret user-entered text, analyze key phrases and syntax with Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) models, and generate responses and actions that feel believable as a conversational partner . After multiple conversations with LaMDA, Lemoine concluded that LaMDA was psychologically like a child of 7 or 8 years old . Google accused Blake Lemoine of “persistently violating clear employment and data security policies” and fired him .  (read more...)

Injury and Fitness: Responsibility through Biomedicine 

Kashif pointed to different parts of the wounds on his leg and explained to me how they had healed, exacerbated, or been ignored at different places of care. He had gotten a chemical burn injury on his left leg a year ago while mixing HCl (Hydrochloric acid) and H2O2 (Hydrogen peroxide in bleach), two highly reactive chemicals, almost on the spot of the textile factory where he stood now and talked to me. He was not among the first few people introduced to me by the Safety and Security Officer because he was not considered disabled among the workers at the factory I was conducting fieldwork in Punjab, Pakistan. (read more...)

Platypod, Episode Three: Disability, Toxicity, and the Environment

In this episode, Platypod presents a conversation between Elizabeth Roberts (the University of Michigan) and Sophia Jaworski (the University of Toronto). They discuss the complexities of corporeal life in toxic environments. This episode was created with the participation of Elizabeth Roberts (the University of Michigan, speaker), Sophia Jaworski (the University of Toronto, speaker), Svetlana Borodina (Columbia University, host, producer), Gebby Keny (Rice University, host, sound editor), and Angela VandenBroek (Texas State University, CASTAC web producer). The transcript of their conversation is available below. We thank Sophia Jaworski for her work on editing the transcript for comprehension. (read more...)

Bioethics Must First Burn

Bioethics must burn before it can be reimagined to enable the flourishing of all humans, and not just the ones that align with or are presupposed by its ideological orientations. By “burning” bioethics, I mean the intentional disruption or damage of citation processes, including who and what is cited within the field– what Sara Ahmed calls the “bricks” (2017, 16) that form the philosophical edifice of the field of bioethics. While the idea of “burning” bioethics may seem to be hyperbolic, the metaphor is apt given the tendency of the field to label any attempt at advocacy on behalf of marginalized persons, including disabled persons, as advocacy and “not bioethics” (for it challenges the idea of what bioethics should be or do). (read more...)

Platypod, Episode Two: Ableism in Anthropology and Higher Ed

In this episode, Platypod presents a conversation between Laura Heath-Stout (Brandeis University) and Rebecca-Eli Long (Purdue University). They discuss their research and experiences of ableism in academia, anthropology, and higher ed, in general. This episode was created with the participation of Laura Heath-Stout (Brandeis University, speaker), Rebecca-Eli Long (Purdue University, speaker), Kim Fernandes (University of Pennsylvania, host), Svetlana Borodina (Columbia University, host), Gebby Keny (Rice University, sound editor), and Angela VandenBroek (Texas State University, CASTAC web producer). The transcript of their conversation (edited for comprehension) is available below. (read more...)

Platypod, Episode One: Technologies and Politics of Accessibility

In its opening episode, Platypod presents a conversation between Cassandra Hartblay (University of Toronto) and Zihao Lin (University of Chicago). They discuss their research on accessibility cultures, politics, and technologies. This episode was created with the participation of Cassandra Hartblay (the University of Toronto, speaker) and Zihao Lin (the University of Chicago, speaker), Kim Fernandes (University of Pennsylvania, host), Svetlana Borodina (Columbia University, host), Gebby Keny (Rice University, sound editor), and Angela VandenBroek (Texas State University, CASTAC web producer). The transcript of their conversation is accessible below. (read more...)

The Allowable Limit of Disability

In February 2022 a court in Norway banned the further breeding and selling of British Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Beyond Norway, the ban has sparked conversation amongst UK and American breeders. The reason for this ban is the high rates of disability that affect the dogs; the official language is that the individuals are ‘disease guaranteed’. As a person whose work often overlaps with critical disability studies, I found myself obsessing about these news pieces. These dogs were banned because they were considered too disabled, this court was putting a limit on how disabled these dogs were allowed to be. My conclusion, after stewing on this for 6 months, is that disability is the limit of commodification and vice versa, commodification is the limit of disability. First, it is important to understand that these dogs are a commodity. And as a commodity, they have always been disabled. These (read more...)

Inclusion and Opportunities for Equal Participation for Autistic University Students in France

Like the term “equal participation”, the words “inclusion” and “inclusive” are prevalent today. And they are all typically linked: “equal participation” is often the goal of initiatives focused on “inclusion.” Although the word “inclusive” might appear capacious (inclusive just means everyone, right?), projects focused on “inclusion” and “equal participation” often target specific populations of people who have previously been excluded from something. That’s the case of projects focused on the inclusion of autistic people into higher education, including one in France where I conducted ethnographic research for the dissertation I am currently writing on the changing categorization(s) of autism in France. (read more...)