Katharina Klappheck: The Joy of Being an Error

Lecture by Katharina Klappheck followed by a dialogue with Katta Spiel from Jan 2023 in German

The argument will be that disability is a condition of possibility for AI.

Part of the series Decolonizing Technology

Artificial Intelligence (AI) as digital infrastructure raises the question of its mode of production:

Who is creating seemingly invisible technologies? What are the material foundations? Who is paying for their service?

Katharina Klappheck want to explore these and other questions in their lecture from a disabled perspective.

The argument will be that disability is a condition of possibility for AI.

This can be traced back to the beginnings of scientific disciplines and their contemporary configurations.

Accordingly, disability represents the limits of AI. It symbolizes its failings as well as its supposed achievements as a transhuman artefact.

This ambivalence results in moments of oppression, but it also holds subversive potential. The chance of a different world is a critical point of refuge for reflections on alternative design and politics of digital infrastructures.

Katharina Klappheck, M.A., is a disabled political scientist. Their research interests include disability, queerness and AI as well as the politics of design. Katharina Klappheck completed her Master's dissertation on the gender binary and automated facial recognition systems under the supervision of Professor Barbara Prainsack at the University of Vienna.

They previously worked at the German Hygiene Museum as part of an interdisciplinary research team, analyzing accessibility and knowledge hierarchies regarding AI. At the Technical University of Dresden, Katharina Klappheck came up with a playful concept for a hackathon which envisioned the democratic digitalization of university administration.

They then went on to work on political equality issues, such as digitalization in terms of gender equality, at the German Bundestag. Currently, Katharina Klappheck is Head of Feminist Internet Policy at the Gunda Werner Institute at the Heinrich Böll Foundation where they are creating a Crippled Low Tech Lab.

Katta Spiel research marginalised perspectives on technology. Their work informs design and engineering in critical ways to support the development of technologies that account for the diverse realities they operate in. The research is situated at the intersection of Computer Science, Design and Cultural Studies. Drawing on methods from (Critical) Participatory Design and Action Research, Katta Spiel collaborates with neurodivergent and/or nonbinary peers in conducting explorations of novel potentials for designs, methodological contributions to Human-Computer Interaction and innovative technological artefacts.