Tessa Leach, 2019. Photograph: Nabil Asakly

Tessa Leach

Anthropomorphic Machines: Alien Sensation and Experience in Nonhumans Created to Be Like Us’ (PhD in History & Philosophy of Science, 2018).

This thesis is positioned at the intersection of technology studies and the nonhuman turn in the humanities. It argues that typical approaches to the study of technology omit any consideration of the alien nature of nonhuman sensation and experience. It examines the alien nature of nonhuman sensation and experience by discussing and critiquing several contemporary philosophical theories, notably object-oriented ontology and actor-network theory. This is grounded in this thesis in the study of specific case studies of anthropomorphic machines, objects which are typically surrounded by human-centric rhetoric. These case studies include the Microsoft Kinect, Grey Walter’s robot tortoises, the natural language processor SHRDLU, and sex robots. This thesis problematises the practice of using anthropomorphic language to talk about machines, with the goal of presenting a more critical study of these objects and contextualising human perspectives on them.

Supervisors: Professor Michael Arnold, Professor Angela Ndalianis