December 11, 2003
A workshop at CHI2004, Reflective HCI: Towards Critical Technical Practice, promises to be an interesting venue. The phrase “Critical Technical Practice” (CTP) was coined by Phil Agre in Computation and Human Experience as a description for a technical practice that simultaneously questions its own philosophical and cultural foundations while using this questioning to open up new technical possibilities.
Agre defined CTP in the context of AI research:
“A critical technical practice would not model itself on what Kuhn called “normal science”, much less on conventional engineering. Instead of seeking foundations it would embrace the impossibility of foundations, guiding itself by a continually unfolding awareness of its own workings as a historically specific practice. It would make further inquiry into the practice of AI an integral part of the practice itself. It would accept that this reflexive inquiry places all of its concepts and methods at risk.” [Computation and Human Experience: 23]
I conceive of my own work in Expressive AI (Expressive AI, AI and Authorship) as also being a form of CTP in the context of AI research. Rather than critically reflective AI, this workshop explores the prospect of critical reflection in HCI practice. My friend and fellow Oz Project alumn Phoebe Sengers is one of the organizers of this workshop.