Prof. Dr. Gabriele Gramelsberger


Prof. Dr. Gabriele Gramelsberger


Gabriele Gramelsberger holds a PhD in philosophy. As a philosopher of science her research focusses on the transformation of science into computational sciences. She has conducted elaborate studies on computer simulation in climate sciences and cell biology. Between 2008 and 2014 she was senior researcher at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne and the Institute of Philosophy of the Freie Universität Berlin. During this period she was Principal Investigator of the cooperative research project "Embodied Information - 'Lifelike' Algorithms & Cellular 'Machines'" funded by the Federal Ministry of Research. In 2008 she also worked as a guest researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg. From 2002 until 2007 she was member of the research initiative "Science Policy Studies" of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science and Humanities. Her recent publications are "Synthesis. Zur Konjunktur eines philosophischen Begriffs in Wissenschaft und Technik", ed. with Peter Bexte and Werner Kogge, 2014 (transcript); "Philosophical Perspectives on Synthetic Biology", Special Issue for Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, ed. with Tarja Knuuttila and Axel Gelfert; "From Science to Computational Sciences. Studies in the History of Computing and its Influence on Today's Science" 2011 (diaphanes), "Climate Change and Policy; The Calculability of Climate Change and the Challenge of Uncertainty", ed. with Johann Feichter, 2011 (Springer) and "Computerexperimente. Wandel der Wissenschaft im Zeitalter des Computers" 2010 (transcript).



Simulating the Observer. Automatization of the Observer in Simulation Models and Digitalized Experimental Systems 

At the beginning of the scientific revolution experiments had to be witnessed by respectable colleagues and honourable persons of society before observations were completely delegated to instruments. Thereafter instrument aided observation became increasingly automatized. Already in the beginning of the 20th century light sensors controlled experimental systems and turned them into self-controlled, cybernetic units. With the invention of electronic computers and later micro processors measurement devices were equipped with computer chips delegating the controlling of the instrument as well as the data analysis to machine algorithms. In the 1980s algorithms decided that the ozone whole does not exist by evaluating the data as measurement errors. Today, probably every measurement device is equipped with computer chips and algorithms. Furthermore, due to the flood of data scientific information is hardly directly achievable by humans anymore. Machines tell researchers that something has been recorded and what it is.  

Beside this ‚empirical‘ data, a complete infrastructure for obtaining ‚in-silico‘ data has been established using supercomputers and computer models for simulation. Science has turned during the past decades into computational sciences and empirical data are increasingly analysed by the use of in-silico data. For instance, elaborate earth observing satellite devices take information for data interpretation from weather and climate models in order to discriminate white clouds from white ice. Since a few years digital observation devices are directly placed into the in-silico world of computer models. Climate models are equipped with virtual satellites and in chemistry random-walker algorithms discover energy valleys in the energy hyperspace landscape and thus projecting new molecules. 

The project explores the automatization of the observer in simulation models and digitalized experimental systems guided by two questions: What does it mean for science, which still comprehends itself as ‘empirical’, to automatize observation and data analysis? What kind of observation space is opened up by computer simulation? In particular the latter question will be in the centre of my studies at MECS. The project is associated with the research project „Computersignale – Kunst und Biologie im Zeitalter ihres digitalen Experimentierens“ (Hannes Rickli, ZHdK Zürich).