As a cultural sociologist I investigate how authenticity is made meaningful in the context of emerging technologies. My research on the authenticity ideal of ‘being true to yourself’ in the context of mental health medications resulted in a peer-reviewed publication and annual guest lecture for the Sociology mastercourse “Medicalization, Healthcare and Social Control” (University of Groningen). I am currently merging my previous and present research activities in my PhD research on authenticity and artificial (un)intelligence at the University of Twente.

People and societies increasingly understand themselves in the mirror of AI-technologies. They organize their lives, jobs, relationships, healthcare systems, welfare regimes, cities and educational systems according to AI-models. Due to society’s preoccupation with artificial intelligence and robots becoming more “human-like”, have we come to overlook an important, inverse question: in what ways are humans and societies becoming more robotic?

authenticity / emerging technologies / (digital) culture
I consider my previous jobs in healthcare and social welfare as an important source of experience and knowledge on social complexity. I have investigated cultural ideals of authenticity in the following contexts:
• Medicalization (University of Amsterdam, 2011 – 2012)
• Cosmetic surgery (Centre for Rotterdam Cultural Sociology, 2013 – 2016)
• Social robotics (Erasmus University, department Medical ethics and Philosophy, 2017)
• Digital algorithms (Medialab SETUP, 2018 – current)
• Human | Machine complementarity (Medialab SETUP, 2019 – current)
• Artificial Intelligence (University of Twente, 2019 – current)

• Writing: SETUP reads / Vrij NederlandBrainwash / iBestuur / Mediawijzer / Hard//hoofd / OneWorld
• Demystifying artificial intelligence and emerging digital technologies
Contributing to ethical debates on emerging technologies
• Critical thinking

• Spithoven, R. and Beerends, S. (2019) ‘Crystal ball security’: Towards a responsible application of Big Data techniques in the security complex, Tijdschrift voor veiligheid, 18 (3-4) 75-92.

• Beerends, S. (2019) Book Review The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Delphi – Interdisciplinary Review of Emerging Technologies, Volume 2, Issue 3.

• Beerends, S. (2019) How (Un)intelligent Is Our Collaboration with Artificial Intelligence? Delphi – Interdisciplinary Review of Emerging Technologies, Volume 2, Issue 1.

• Beerends, S. and Bröer, C. (2012) ‘Als je pillen gaat slikken, vermijd je iets wat echt is’: romantische en sociologische denkbeelden in het publieke debat over geestelijke gezondheidszorg. Sociologie, 8 (3), 318-342.

Image by Gerd Leonhard