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Distributed bodies and intelligences - robotic systems in the production of artificial hearts and the intrinsic dilemmas

Grant number: 18/22183-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2019
Effective date (End): April 30, 2023
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology
Principal Investigator:Marko Synésio Alves Monteiro
Grantee:Marisol Marini
Host Institution: Instituto de Geociências (IG). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):21/11150-0 - The use of algorithms in the development of artificial hearts: the emergence of new bodies and the potential immunological imaginary, BE.EP.PD


The research intends to investigate the definitions, conceptualizations, translations and recent developments in the field of robotics and automation, considering the unfolding in the production of ventricular assist devices, the so-called artificial hearts. The aim is to follow the production of control systems, which have been designed in São Paulo institutions. Such artifacts are designed for the enhancement of cardiac devices, which are used to aid the functioning of patients' native hearts with heart failure. These projects seek to deal with the limitations of the current devices, which do not consider time as a variable, that is, in which patients do not suffer variations over time. The proposal, then, is to use algorithms to "teach the devices to grow old," in order to keep up with the transformations placed on life forms in the presence of the arrow of time. These are very recent and experimental research, which will allow us to approach ethics and question the effects while the devices are still under construction, in order to imagine possible scenarios and to reflect on the socio-technical-existential implications. Smart robotic systems, associated with transformations based on industry/health 4.0 concept pose ethical dilemmas and moral instabilities, especially regarding the autonomy given to control devices. Ethnographic research leads me to the involvement with such dilemmas, so that research is also an action, seeking to build debates and a active participation in the demands of the actors of the engineering field, focusing especially on the issue of regulation (public policy) and innovation (patents and marketing of technological products). Thus, in addition to examining the developments in the field of artificial hearts production related to the use of artificial intelligence, the research will discuss the forms of governance of science and technology in the context of responsible innovation, addressing dilemmas and ethical implications dynamically, not as a set of immutable principles and normative structures, but under construction as much as the artifacts.

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