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Kubes, Tanja and Reinhardt, Thomas (2021): Techno-species in the Becoming Towards a Relational Ontology of Multi-species Assemblages (ROMA). In: Nanoethics, Vol. 16, No. 1: pp. 95-105

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Robots equipped with artificial intelligence pose a huge challenge to traditional ontological differentiations between the spheres of the human and the non-human. Drawing mainly from neo-animistic and perspectivist approaches in anthropology and science and technology studies, the paper explores the potential of new forms of interconnectedness and rhizomatic entanglements between humans and a world transcending the boundaries between species and material spheres. We argue that intelligent robots meet virtually all criteria Western biology came up with to define 'life' and that it ultimately makes sense to recognize them as a new species that is part of our social universe. Contrasting dualistic concepts of man and nature with a monistic approach, we show that traditional properties of life (agency, self-replication, etc.) may apply to artefacts and that, once we accept the idea that social relationships are ultimately open connections to matter of any kind, the seemingly strict boundaries between species and material spheres can no longer be sustained. Instead, we propose to include 'matter' and ideas into the sphere of the social as agents in their own right to form a relational ontology of multi-species assemblages (ROMA).

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