Next ACDC meeting, Matt Coler on “Senses and sensors: Cognition, technology and discourse”, 3 November 2015, 11:30-13:00, VU 1G13

Dear ACDC members,

We kindly invite you to attend the next ACDC meeting. Matt Coler, who studied Linguistics at the VU, will give a timely talk on connecting humanities with technological innovation.

  • DATE: 3 November 2015
  • TIME: 11:30-13:00
  • PLACE: 1G13

RSVP in view of drinks & snacks: Nicolina Montesano Montessori

Matt Coler will talk about his project, ‘Human Centered Monitoring’, concerning complex systems and, in particular, human and artificial sensory systems. He makes a case for transdisciplinary collaboration connecting human- and physical scientists and engineers.

Senses and sensors: Cognition, technology and discourse

Matt Coler (Head of Cognitive Systems, INCAS3, Assen)

Abstract: Sensors mediate the direct experience of the world, so much so that we are hardly aware of their presence. Despite claims to the contrary, this is not unprecedented — creating and using sensors and other artifacts are part of what makes us human. Nonetheless, while the earliest analog sensors embodied some aspects of human experience, the advent of mechanical, and later digital technological devices abstracted ever more from direct experiences. For many digital sensors, the user may have no knowledge of what the sensor is representing: What is 9 Celsius, 5:16PM, or 42dB? This issue connects to the ergonomy of modern sensors, which are typically based on engineering (and refer to so-called “hard” sciences), not individual, experiential, sensory knowledge. Can sensors account for the qualitative aspects of human experience and knowledge? If so, this advancement will not arise from developing more receptive sensors, but in more cognitive ones. The ability of cognitively-inspired sensors to account for qualitative experiences is the subject of this talk, with focus on the auditory domain.

Consider the ease with which humans, upon perceiving an acoustic event, immediately identify something (be it a voice, a favorite song, or the familiar hubbub of a neighborhood bar) and interpret it. Despite the fact that audio recording, storing and restitution are well-mastered, no sensor is able to perform comparably, even for a small subset of stimuli. This can be addressed through multidisciplinary research, connecting human scientists (like linguists and psychologists) with physical scientists and engineers.


  • Dubois, D., Coler, M., & Wörtche, H. J. (2014). Knowledge, sensory experience, and sensor technology. In C. Rangacharyulu, E. Haven, & B. Juurlink, The world in prismatic views (pp. 97–134). London: World Scientific. [link]
  • Dubois, D., Guastavino, C., & Raimbault, M. (2006). A cognitive approach to urban soundscapes: Using verbal data to access everyday life auditory categories. Acta Acustica United with Acustica, 92(6), 865–874. [link]
  • Dubois, D. (2000). Categories as acts of meaning: The case of categories in olfaction and audition. Cognitive Science Quaterly, 1, 35–68. [link – I have the PDF]
  • Gaillard, P., Coler, M., Tardieu, J., & Magnen, C. (2015). Hybrid sound classification. Presented at the EuroNoise 2015, Maastricht. [link]

We look forward to seeing you,

The ACDC conveners

Julian Albaladejo, Bertie Kaal, Joyce Lamerichs, Nicolina Montesano Montessori, Steve Oswald, Neil Thompson

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