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articles
1. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Victoria Dos Santos, Humberto Valdivieso The Contemporary Cyborg: A Semiotic Approach to Digital Hybridization
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The aim of this article is to study and explore the cyborg as a metaphoric figure, as well as its semiotic correlation with the contemporary subject, an entity moving through a society developed by digital technologies. The cyborg paradigm is formed by the unification of existing dichotomies between human-machine, nature-culture, and science-magic, disrupting transcendental dualisms and fixed categories. These phenomena can be understood through the concept of intertextuality developed first by Julia Kristeva and then by Roland Barthes, both using the cyborg body as a textual construction, and through Donna Haraway’s theory, which understands cyborgs as an indexical consequence of digital mediation in human society.
2. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Luca M. Possati Making the Invisible Visible: The Phenomenon of Data Visualization as a Framework to Understand How Software Shapes the Imaginary and the Image
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In today’s society the use of new technologies for data visualizations is becoming increasingly widespread. This article seeks neither to give a complete view of its history nor an exhaustive definition of the phenomenon of data visualization. This article takes a new perspective on data visualization by dealing only with a new type of data visualizations, those based on “Big Data” and AI systems. This perspective is completely different from existing ones. Therefore, I explore three main theses: (a) that AI systems applied to large amounts of data that we cannot directly know (so-called “Big Data”) can create “living” and interactive images with a multifaceted nature and efficacy (epistemic, phenomenal, and subjective); (b) that this new type of data visualizations is deeply linked to the so-called “iconic turn” trend in the field of social sciences because many of the theses of the “iconic turn” are confirmed and even reinforced by these data visualizations; (c) that through the production of “living” images, digital technologies demonstrate their ability to re-define and re-configure our experience and re-ontologize reality by creating new entities requiring new philosophical tools to be fully understood. I focus mainly on this third thesis by stressing the hermeneutical function of data visualization.
3. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Siby K. George Heidegger, Technology, and Biohistorical Human Futures
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Posthumanist readings of the Heidegger corpus often conclude that the transformed future human essence must either be the ecoromanticist ideal of the attuned dweller or the technoprogressivist ideal of the technicized animal. Such inferences are untenable according to the logic of the text, where human essence is envisaged as radically unfixed and open, and humans themselves as meaningful contributors to their future essence. In this way, the transformation of human essence can become a genuinely ethicopolitical question, rather than an ontologically predetermined one. An ontologically open posthumanist and biohistorical reading of the Heidegger corpus concerning the human future is possible if focus is placed on the logic of the text itself rather than authorial intentions.
4. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Jared L. Talley Computer Generated Media and Experiential Impact on our Imaginations
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The human imagination is puzzling. Barring extreme cases, every person has an intimate relationship with their own imagination, and although the constitution of that relationship may itself be obscure, we should not assume that it is thus inconsequential. This raises the salient question of this essay: How is imagination consequential? I develop an account of the imagination that helps to evaluate the impact of digital manipulation through Computer Generated Media on our imaginations, especially as it occurs in media-saturated societies. This essay proceeds in four parts. First, I briefly develop an account of the imagination that serves this evaluation. Second, I describe how digital technology is able to impact our imaginations. Third, I explore the impacts that this has on our imaginations—what I label the horizontal and vertical stretching of our imaginations. Lastly, I consider plausible consequences of stretching our imaginations with digital technologies.
5. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Tiger Roholt Being-with Smartphones
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In a social situation, why is it sometimes off-putting when a person reaches for his smartphone? In small-group contexts such as a college seminar, a business meeting, a family meal, or a small musical performance, when a person begins texting or interacting with social media on a smartphone he may disengage from the group. When we do find this off-putting, we typically consider it to be just impolite or inappropriate. In this essay, I argue that something more profound is at stake. One significant way in which individuals shape their self-identities is through interactions with others in small groups. Much identity-work is interdependent; it requires generating and preserving social contexts. I argue that the smartphone-use of some individuals can fracture a group’s context and thus negatively affect the identity-work of others. In this essay, I examine identity-work, sociality, and personal technology from a perspective of existential phenomenology.
6. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Natalia Juchniewicz Extended Memory: On Delegation of Memory to Smartphones
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This article raises the problem of extended memory in the context of using a smartphone. Taking into account the extended mind hypothesis and the everyday practices of smartphone users, the article analyses four fields of memory: pictures, chats, maps and, geolocating games. Each of these fields can be used in a number of ways to reinforce memory or to participate in the memory practices of an individual or a collectivity, and this is analysed in the article using numerous examples. The problem of extended memory is considered in the article on a theoretical level by referring to new media studies (on mobile phones and iPhones). The practical dimension of this problem is presented by the results of empirical, qualitative research conducted among smartphone users.
special section on technology and pandemic
7. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Regletto Aldrich D. Imbong On Transistor Radios and Authoritarianism: The Politics of Radio-Broadcasted Distance Learning
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As the Philippines continues to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, new modalities of instruction are being devised by the administration of Rodrigo Duterte, through the Department of Education (DepEd). Among these are what the DepEd provided as self-learning modules (SLMs) combined with “alternative learning delivery modalities” which include radio-based instruction (DepEd 2020). The SLMs and radiobased instruction are the most common modalities of learning, being the most accessible especially for the poor students of the country. This paper will examine the pedagogical and political dimensions of a radio-based instruction. Coming from the tradition of philosophy of technology that emphasizes the political nature of technology, I will argue how the logic of radio broadcasting predetermines a specific pedagogy and form of communication. I will further argue how this predetermined form of communication carries the danger of being an effective support for authoritarianism.
8. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Ryan Wittingslow The COVID-19 Pandemic qua Artefact: A Conceptual Analysis
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In this article I argue that the COVID-19 pandemic is an unintended artefact with emergent features. Not only is the pandemic an accidental consequence of human agency, it also a) emerges from but is not reducible to its basal features, and b) possesses the features of radical novelty, coherence, wholeness, dynamism, ostensiveness, and downwards causation.
articles
9. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Luca M. Possati Is There a Digital World?: Video Games as a Framework for Analyzing the Relations between Software and Lived Experience
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This article discusses the relation between software and human experience. I argue that software-based experiences are based on a radical discrepancy between the code and “lived experience.” This break is different than the so-called “opacity” of technology. I start analyzing a case study: the video game Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Video games are one of the most profound digital experiences humans can have. When I play a video game I do not see the code. However, the code is the source of my experience. I claim that the code’s concealment is the necessary condition of the digital experience. I discuss the ontological definition of software as an entity. Software, I claim, is a complex object, composed of many different levels, whose unity is problematic. In the last part of the essay I argue that the break between lived experience and code is recomposed by imagination through the act of design.
10. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Michael Gurvitch The Darwin Is in the Details: The Evolution of Electronics
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Electronics can be defined as electromagnetic technology dealing with information, and meta-electronics as a field encompassing all the synergistic technologies in which electronics plays a dominant role. Examining the broad field corresponding to this definition we realize that its history starts some seventy years earlier than the customarily accepted birth of electronics, and, what is more significant, that electronics undergoes a true evolution. This new evolution creates rich, diverse structures similar to those created by the biological evolution. Like biology, electronics is non-teleological, which allows for its unlimited evolutionary development. We propose electronic analogies of all essential biological categories, at all levels: population, speciation, common ancestor, phenotype, extended phenotype, co-evolution, convergent evolution, evolutionary arms race, extinction and mass extinction, hierarchical levels, generative entrenchment, genes, alleles, genome, genetic pool, recombination, mutation, genetic drift, lateral gene transfer, etc. The evolutionary algorithm operating in electronics, like a Darwinian one, includes variation within a population of device models, heredity, natural (market) selection, and a form of selection based on aesthetics and fashion which resembles sexual selection. Algorithm is especially similar to artificial selection (domestication), thus possessing directionality in the variational part. Electronic development is orders of magnitude faster than biological, accelerated by that directionality and by other distinct, identifiable mechanisms. Speciation in electronics, as in biology, is best represented on a phylogenetic tree, which starts from a common ancestor (electric telegraph), but lately exhibits a unification trend. If continued, this trend may lead to the appearance of a common descendant absent in biology. Our analysis may explain emerging anti-social aspects of electronics and our conclusions add new urgency to recent concerns with unchecked development of Artificial Intelligence.
11. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Vincent Blok What Is Innovation?: Laying the Ground for a Philosophy of Innovation
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In this article, I reflect on the nature of innovation to lay the groundwork for a philosophy of innovation. First, I contrast the contemporary techno-economic paradigm of innovation with the work of Joseph Schumpeter. It becomes clear that Schumpeter’s work provides good reasons to question the techno-economic paradigm of innovation. Second, I contrast ‘innovation’ with ‘technology’ and identify five differences between the two concepts. Third, I reflect on the process-outcome dimension and the ontic-ontological dimension of innovation to develop four characteristics of the phenomenon of innovation. These four characteristics move beyond the techno-economic paradigm of innovation and highlight, first, the importance of its process dimension understood as ontogenesis, second, the outcome of innovation, and third, the importance of the ontological dimension of innovation, which is considered adjacent to its fourth characteristic, i.e., the ontic level of the outcome of innovation. After drawing conclusions, a research agenda for future research is provided.
12. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Thomas Lee Cultures of Number: Connections across Literature, Design, and Technology
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This article argues humanities scholarship is often dismissive of the quantitative, and that there is scope for worthwhile interdisciplinary research into the way everyday life is given tone and texture by experiences and cultures of number. Following the work of Mary Poovey (2008) and Steven Connor (2016), it challenges the view, particularly influential in the humanities, that number and associated ideas to do with data, objectivity, mathematics, and the rational, are parasitic upon life. In contrast to this view, this article suggests that even if the idea of ‘the human’ is defined in opposition to number, the relation between the two is more usefully understood as an interweaving of differential tensions, rather than two poles separated by an uncrossable distance. Examples from literary fiction and two smartphone apps are analysed with the intent of initiating a dialogue between different cultural objects that share a concern with number and human experience.
13. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Shane Epting Urban Infrastructure and the Problem of Moral Praise
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Most components of urban infrastructure remain hidden. Due to this condition, we do not think about them in a way that pays attention to the full scope of moral possibilities. For instance, when such topics are forced from the periphery of our thinking to the forefront of our minds, it is usually in terms of figuring out who to blame when they fail to function properly. In turn, one could argue that we only care to talk about an action’s moral status that pertains to infrastructure when it becomes a hazard. While this point deserves examination, the more significant issue is that we lack the moral language required to have conversations about moral praise regarding public works. The purpose of this paper, then, is to flesh out how to discuss morality and infrastructure regarding moral praise.
14. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Levi Checketts The Sacrality of Things: On the Technological Augmentation of the Sacred
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Abstract: Mitcham, Borgmann, and others argue the character of technology is at odds with the character of Christian life. This paper challenges that claim in two moves. First, I examine ways Christian theology has been formed by Roman crucifixion, the printing press, and transoceanic navigation; Christology, biblical studies, and missiology are critically dependent upon technologies that facilitated the death of Jesus, the spread of Protestant literature, and the migration of missionaries. Second, I contend that these technologies shed light on a complicated relationship between the realm of the “sacred” and technologies. Technologies can have the character of being sacred or sacramental. As sacred, technologies fall within the purview of religious devotion like relics or icons. As sacramental, they influence the field of theology, through augmentation or restriction. Thus, technologies can be compatible with Christianity and have a positive effect on religion, expanding the fields of theological reflection and religious devotion.
special section on technology and pandemic
15. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Galit Wellner The Zoom-bie Student and the Lecturer
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As part of the Special Section: Technology & Pandemic, this article exam­ines the experience of teaching and learning via Zoom. I examine how technologies mediate the learning process with the postphenomenological notions of embodiment and hermeneutic relations. This section serves as a basis for understanding the trans­formation of that process into online learning. The next section is named “the Zoom-bie”—a combination of the words Zoom and zombie. The figure of the Zoom-bie provides me a way to critically review the new practices experienced in the spring semester of 2020. After analyzing the variations of the learning process with a fresh look at embodiment and hermeneutic relations, the last section titled “the digital classroom” examines this transformation from an alternative point-of-view, that of the classroom as a technology-saturated background.
16. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Ryan Jenkins, Zachary I. Rentz, Keith Abney Big Brother Goes to School: Best Practices for Campus Surveillance Technologies During the COVID-19 Pandemic
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Few sectors are more affected by COVID-19 than higher education. There is growing recognition that reopening the densely populated communities of higher education will require surveillance technologies, but many of these technologies pose threats to the privacy of the very students, faculty, and staff they are meant to protect. The authors have a history of working with our institution’s governing bodies to provide ethical guidance on the use of technologies, especially including those with significant implications for privacy. Here, we draw on that experience to provide guidelines for using surveillance technologies to reopen college campuses safely and responsibly, even under the specter of covid. We aim to generalize our recommendations, so they are sensitive to the practical realities and constraints that universities face.
book reviews
17. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Simon N. Balle A Competent Guide to The Ethics of Humans and Robots
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18. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Sasha Niehorster-Cook Representation’s Essence: Epistemic Insights from Silicon Valley
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paul durbin and the legacy of the society for philosophy and technology
19. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 24 > Issue: 4
Carl Mitcham Introduction
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20. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 24 > Issue: 4
Carl Mitcham, Alex Michalos, Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Joseph Margolis, Edmund Byrne Section 1. Staking Out a Territory
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