Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationStanford U.
Grant numberGr. 9406
Approve DateApril 18, 2017
Project TitleErickson-Davis, Cordelia R., Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Sensory Ethnography and the Bionic Eye: What it is to See,' supervised by Dr. Tanya Luhrmann
CORDELIA R. ERICKSON-DAVIS, then a graduate student at Stanford University, Stanford, California, received a grant in April 2017 to aid research on “Sensory Ethnography and the Bionic Eye: What it is to See,” supervised by Dr. Tanya Luhrmann. Retinal implants have been approved and made commercially available for certain clinical populations for over 5 years now, with hundreds of individuals implanted, scores of them closely followed in research trials. Despite these numbers, few data are available that would help us answer basic questions regarding the nature of artificial vision: what do subjects see when the device is turned on? What does it mean for the device to “work”? Funding allowed the grantee to follow these devices — one in particular — from bench to bedside, who found that we don’t know what artificial vision is like because we don’t ask, and why we don’t ask is story about perception in the age of information and artificial intelligence, as well as a story regarding how the culture of translational science and medicine has shaped research and clinical practice. When we do ask, we learn that artificial vision is a unique phenomenon, fundamentally different than “natural” vision, and that what it is “to see” is a process that is as much social as it is sensory