A Posthumanist Approach to Electronic Gambling

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal 18 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Tommaso BARBETTA, The University of Tokyo, Italy
Working on the topic of contemporary electronic gambling, I had to face the centrality of the human-machine interaction in the emergence of gambling addiction.

Both an intersubjective approach and a deconstructionist approach have proved to be inadequate in dealing with such an interaction. On one hand, theories of intersubjectivity fail in recognizing the impact objects may have in the development of subjectivity. On the other, postmodernist approaches neglect the material agency of machines and reduce the subject to a discursive construction.

On the contrary, by focusing on interobjective relations, a post-humanist approach provides more effective tools to investigate the human-machine connection. From a post-humanist point of view, the subject articulated in the human-machine relation, has to be considered ontologically different to the subject which existed previously to such a relation, i.e. the human-without-machine.

Adopting a post-humanist approach we are able to enlighten how designers, projects, industries, economies, laws etc. have shaped machines and how machines have been shaping the players’ subjectivity. Through posthumanism we are able to understand addiction as a network which embraces both human and non-human entities.

Departing from such a specific case study, the present work also intends to remark some of the crucial shortcomings of the “ontological turn”. Despite providing strong analytic tools, posthumanist theories may in fact lead to an “ethical precariousness”.

What are our aims? What kind of subject are we protecting and why? Moreover, how can we design an affirmative political agenda in a world where humans and non-humans are symmetrically perceived?