Category Archives: Research

Oliver the Justice Dog and what it means to be human

I was somewhat surprised this week to see a post on social media announcing that a dog has received a staff ID card at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU).

While I have no problem with dogs on campus, or indeed the work of Justice Support Dogs International (JSDI), I do find the fact that a dog should receive a human staff ID card somewhat unsettling. This is because it serves to further enshrine a biopolitical discourse surrounding the human and the animal, and goes to show the power of major institutions to dictate the terms on which we define what constitutes the human and the animal.

While some readers may find the news about Oliver fairly innocuous, or even quite fun, the problem is not the card itself, but what the card represents, and the border for inclusion that places a dog above those not included within the formalised university group. In this case, Oliver the dog has more rights than many human employees at the same institution, even though he is incapable of exercising the same human responsibilities that form a part of the membership contract.

In this way, Oliver the Justice Dog reveals something of the operation of power within the biopolitical state through the very act of his exclusory-inclusion within the category of the human. Continue reading »

Cars, guns and inevitable automation

I was struck recently by an advertising campaign from German car manufacturer Audi for its new Q5. In the video, posted on YouTube and appearing in cinemas here in the UK, we see an Audi Q5 driving through the rain with a series of overlays highlighting technological innovations such as sign recognition, adaptive suspension and ‘Audi Pre-Sense’ for anticipating dangers before they occur. The advert closes with the claim that ‘It doesn’t just drive. It thinks.’ Continue reading »

Academic e-books and the changing face of university libraries

For many years now there’s been a trend in university libraries to focus on the provision of e-books and online resources over physical publications. This is especially true in recent times as university libraries seem to be moving towards a space to study rather than a place to find knowledge. Continue reading »

Robot Wars S3, and implications for future warfare

Series three of the new-look Robot Wars has come to an end, and with it, one of the best series to date. While fans of the show will have certainly enjoyed some of the most intense, destructive robot battles seen in the show’s long history, the final ended with a deserving victor, proving that reliability and driver skill still trump money and new tech.

Warning: this blog contains spoilers.  Continue reading »

Survey results: A question of (animal) life and death

A few weeks ago I posted a short survey via my Facebook page, asking readers to answer some questions relating to animal life and death. The idea was to test a few hypotheses I had been playing with relating to the different values we place on animal life. The main focus being that certain animals are valued far more highly in our society than others. The results of my survey can be found below. I will hold off on my comments for now, as I’m interested to see how people react… Continue reading »