Dr. Joffrey Becker



October 2021 – September 2022

Short CV

Joffrey Becker is Research Associate and member of the Anthropology of Life team at the LAS (Laboratoire d‘Anthropologie Sociale) at the Collège de France, Paris. He completed his PhD at the EHESS Paris under the supervision of Carlo Severi. From 2013 on, he worked on many projects combining approaches from anthropology, robotics, and computer science. Becker was a postdoctoral fellow at the quai Branly Museum in Paris from 2014-2015, where he participated in the design of an experimental Human-Robot Interaction protocol involving the robot Berenson. In 2016, he also studied how robotic and smart systems transform the work activity in dairy farms. From 2017-2018 he joined the multi-disciplinary team at the Paris Observatory (PSL/IRIS-OCAV) as a post-doctoral fellow to work on the representations associated with life and artificial systems in space.

Project Description

Living beside Machines / Living inside Machines

This one-year project continues a research work in social anthropology which has started in 2010. The project focuses on the relations between humans and so-called intelligent systems and more particularly on the transformations associated to their design whether they are of an ontological, interactional or societal kind. Whether they take part in the description of natural processes, in uncanny interactions with humans or more broadly in hybrid systems where they "work" with or instead of humans, these machines raise questions directly related to the power attributed to technologies to deeply transform the societies which make and use them. Thanks to ethnographic methods, the aim is to better understand how complex systems like intelligent environments or bio-inspired robots participate in reconfiguring the representations we have about life, our relations and our activities. Looking at different scales of interaction, the project thus focus on the representations embedded in objects (whether they are the result of scientific or cultural knowledge) in order to better consider the users’ point of view. The purpose of this project is to explore new means to study the social changes associated to the design of so-called intelligent systems. The challenge is to conceive multi-disciplinary methods. It implies a strong cross-disciplinary commitment in order to help researchers in Human-Robot Interaction and Computer Science to better anticipate the many issues raised by their technologies.

Publications (Selection)

Becker J. (2021) Anthropology, AI and Robotics. In A. Elliott (Ed.), The Routledge Social Science Handbook of AI. Abingdon-on-Thames, Routledge.

Becker J., Bianchini S., Scurto H., Tosi Brandi E. (2021) Picking Up Good Vibrations: Designing an Experimental Setup to Assess the Role of Vibrations in Human-Robot Interaction. IEEE Int. Conf. on Robotics and Automation, ICRA’21, Sentimental Machines, Xi’an.

Collectif PsyPhINe (Eds.) (2021) Que prêtons-nous aux machine? Approches interdisciplinaire des interactions homme-robot. Nancy : PUN - MSH Lorraine.

Becker J. (2020) Designing anthropomorphic machines: An ethnography of design practices. Réseaux, 220-221(2-3) : pp. 223-251.

Becker, J. (2015) Humanoïdes, Expérimentations croisées entre arts et sciences. Nanterre: Presses Universitaires de Paris Ouest, Collection Frontières de l'humain.