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101. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
Sylvia Blad The Impact of 'Anthropotechnology' on Human Evolution
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From the time that they diverged from their common ancestor, chimpanzees and humans have had a very different evolutionary path. It seems obvious that the appearance of culture and technology has increasingly alienated humans from the path of natural selection that has informed chimpanzee evolution. According to philosopher Peter Sloterdijk any type of technology is bound to have genetic effects. But to what extent do genomic comparisons provide evidence for such an impact of ‘anthropotechnology’ on our biological evolution?
102. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
José Manuel de Cózar-Escalante Living in a Nanotech Home: Invisibility, Representation and Democratic Oversight of Nanotechnological Developments
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While applying general ethical principles and reasoning to the dilemmas presented by the development of nanotechnology is often useful and always legitimate, we also need to find a way to bridge the gap between general principles and the specific issues that arise from the development of individual nanotechnologies. Drawing inspiration from pragmatist thinking, a useful strategy is to focus on the links between the epistemological, political and social representations of a particular case. Using the example of a nanotechnological house, this paper analyzes the problematic connections between scientific knowledge, technical expertise, decision-making and public engagement in nanotechnology representational networks.
103. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 14 > Issue: 2
S. D. Noam Cook Turing, Searle, and the Wizard of Oz: Life and Custom Among the Automata or How Ought We to Assess the Attribution of Capacities of Living Systems to Technological Artefacts?
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Since the middle of the 20th century there has been a significant debate about the attribution of capacities of living systems, particularly humans, to technological artefacts, especially computers—from Turing’s opening gambit, to subsequent considerations of artificial intelligence, to recent claims about artificial life. Some now argue that the capacities of future technologies will ultimately make it impossible to draw any meaningful distinctions between humans and machines. Such issues center on what sense, if any, it makes to claim that gadgets can actually think, feel, act, live, etc. I outline this debate and offer a critique of its persistent polarization. I characterize two of the debate’s major camps (associated roughly with Turing and Searle); argue that the debate’s structure (including key assumptions inherent to each camp) precludes resolution; and, contend that some central clashes within the debate actually stem from an inadequately drawn distinction between claims about the capacities of artifacts and claims about the proper criteria for assessing such attributions. I offer a different perspective in which I: challenge some central elements of the debate that contribute to its perennially irresolvable state; hold that the debate needs to be placed more squarely in sync with how we in fact treat the attribution of such capacities to humans themselves; and, offer (unlike the other two camps) a foothold for making moral assessments of such proposed technologies.
104. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 14 > Issue: 3
Andrew Ward Virtual Communities: Ontology and Politics
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The Internet, as it exists today, is an outgrowth of the late 1960’s Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. During the 1980’s, the National Science Foundation established a high-speed, high-capacity network called NSFnet connecting many universities and government agencies. Finally, with the creation of the World Wide Web and the development and diffusion of inexpensive, reliable and easy to use public Internet access, electronic information technologies connect an increasingly large portion of the population. As a result, the communities with which we are all familiar, communities based on geographic proximity, have changed. These sorts of changes raise many interesting but difficult questions. This paper focuses on two of those questions. First, what does the increasing use of and reliance on electronically mediated communications portend for our understanding of human communities, and second, what sorts of socio-political concepts and relationships best characterize the new “virtual community”?
105. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 14 > Issue: 3
Wolter Pieters Reve{a,i}ling the Risks: A Phenomenology of Information Security
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In information security research, perceived security usually has a negative meaning, when it is used in contrast to actual security. From a phenomenological perspective, however, perceived security is all we have. This paper develops a phenomenological account of information security, in which a distinction is made between revealed and reveiled security instead. Linking these notions with the concepts of confidence and trust, the paper provides a phenomenological explanation of the electronic voting controversy in the Netherlands.
106. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 14 > Issue: 3
Katinka Waelbers, Adam Briggle Three Schools of Thought on Freedom in Liberal, Technological Societies
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Are citizens of contemporary technological society authors of their own lives? With Alasdair MacIntyre (contemporary Aristotelianism), Bruno Latour (Science and Technology Studies) and Albert Borgmann (Philosophy of Technology), we discuss the shortcomings of traditional liberalism in terms of its ability to answer this question. MacIntyre argues that biological vulnerabilities and social interdependencies establish meaningful parameters within which reason and willing emerge. But MacIntyre ignores technologies as a third parameter. Latour defines humans as nodes in a socio-technical network, in which technologies are actors on par with humans. However, Latour adopts a purely external perspective, ignoring human intentions, desires, and reasons. Borgmann argues that although freedom of choice is severely restricted, sometimes one can still resist the rule of technology. But Borgmann denies the pluralism of modern societies. Although all three schools have their shortcomings, combined, they provide us with a valuable palette of insights on human agency in a technological culture.
107. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 14 > Issue: 3
Jos De Mul Moral Machines: ICTs as Mediators of Human Agencies
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In spite of the popularity of computer ethics, ICTs appear to undermine our moral autonomy in several ways. This article focuses on the ‘delegation’ of our moral agency to machines. Three stages of delegation are distinguished: implementation of moral values and norms in the design of artefacts, delegation of moral means to machines, and delegation of both moral means and goals to machines. Second, it is argued that the ‘outsourcing’ of moral agency does not necessarily lead to the undermining of our moral autonomy, but might enhance it as well.
108. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 14 > Issue: 3
Bibi Van Den Berg I-Object: Intimate Technologies as 'Reference Groups' in the Construction of Identities
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In this article, I will investigate the ways in which Ambient Intelligence, the technological paradigm of the near future proposed by the European Union and the electronics multinational Philips, will affect the ways in which individuals construct and express their identities. The Ambient Intelligence vision predicts a world in which technologies will deliver personalized services in a proactive (rather than a responsive or interactive) fashion. I argue that this brings about a change in the way we interact with these technologies, which in turn has an effect on the way we construct and express identities in relation to such technologies. In a world of Ambient Intelligence, I will argue in this article, technological artifacts may come to function as ‘reference collectivities’, comparable to human reference groups. Due to their proactivity, their level of autonomy and self-reliance and our personalized interactions with them, these technologies will come to function as ‘others’, rather than as ‘quasi-others’.
109. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 14 > Issue: 3
Michelle Sandell Astronomy and Experimentation
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In this paper I contest Ian Hacking’s claim that astronomers do not experiment. Riding on this thesis is a re-evaluation of his view that astronomers are less justified than other natural scientists in believing in the existence of the objects they study, and that astronomers are not proper natural scientists at all. The defense of my position depends upon carefully examining what, exactly, is being manipulated in an experiment, and the role of experimental effects for Hacking’s experimental realism. I argue that Hacking’s experimental realism is not adequately defended, and even if we accept it in good grace, the case can be still made that astronomers experiment by Hacking’s account.
110. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Joseph D. Martin Evaluating Hidden Costs of Technological Change: Scaffolding, Agency, and Entrenchment
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This paper explores the process by which new technologies supplant or constrain cultural scaffolding processes and the consequences thereof. As elaborated by William Wimsatt and James Griesemer, cultural scaffolds support the acquisition of new capabilities by individuals or organizations. When technologies displace scaffolds, those who previously acquired capabilities from them come to rely upon the new technologies to complete tasks they could once accomplish on their own. Therefore, the would-be beneficiaries of those scaffolds are deprived of the agency to exercise the capabilities the scaffolds supported. Evaluating how technologies displace cultural scaffolds can ground philosophical assessments of the cultural value of technologies.
111. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Liam Mitchell Karmic Cascades: Ranking Content and Conditioning Thought on reddit.com
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The content ranking system of reddit.com, the English language Internet’s most popular social news website, plays a large but often unnoticed role in shaping what users see and how they think. By pairing informational cascade theory with textual analysis, I argue that the “karma” system elevates particular forms of content over others and generates numerical cues that unconsciously guide users’ judgments about said content and about the world. By drawing on Heidegger’s account of modern technology, I argue that the karma system both symptomatizes and engenders an ontological perspective according to which things in general are taken as available, evaluable, and disposable.
112. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Giovanni Simonetta The Realism and Ecology of Augmented Reality: An Ecological Way to Understand the Human-Computer Relationship
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Unlike in the phrase “Virtual Reality,” in the phrase “Augmented Reality” (AR) the stress is put on the word “reality.” It seems, though, that we still lack a concept of reality which can fit the world of both humans and computers. In connection with this philosophical issue, this paper aims to provide the background for a better insight into the meaning of Augmented Reality and its impact on human behavior. My thesis is that an ecological version of direct perception’s realism constitutes the most natural framework from which to start. The ecological approach to perception – namely, the Gibsonian theory of affordances – together with a non-dualistic, pragmatist and evolutionist notion of reality, perfectly fits this purpose. Thus, after a brief survey of the present state of AR technologies, it should become natural to interpret AR digital contents as implementations of affordances.
113. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Heather Wiltse, Erik Stolterman, Johan Redström Wicked Interactions: (On the Necessity of) Reframing the ‘Computer’ in Philosophy and Design
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The digital computational technologies that over the past decades have come to be fully integrated into nearly all aspects of human life have varying forms, scales, interactive mechanisms, functions, configurations, and interconnections. Much of this complexity and associated implications for human experience are, however, hidden by prevalent notions of ‘the computer’ as an object. In this paper, we consider how everyday digital technologies collectively mediate human experience, arguing that these technologies are better understood as fluid assemblages that have as many similarities with the infra-structural as they have properties typical for objects. We characterize these aspects in terms of ‘wicked interactions,’ drawing on and adapting the classic theory of wicked problems in design discourse that has similarly considered the complexity of interactions with and within other types of social infrastructure. In doing this we emphasize the need and the potential for building up connections between philosophy of technology and design discourse, with the hope that this might further the shared goals of understanding digital technologies and their consequences and determining how to act in relation to them and their design.
114. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 19 > Issue: 1
Timothy Barker Media Ecology in Michel Serres's Philosophy of Communication
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Throughout his philosophical project Michel Serres uses the etymological connections between words to reveal much larger experiential and philosophical links. One such connection is between the words ‘media’ and ‘milieu’. In this paper I show how Serres’ philosophy of communication can be used to think critically about the relationship between media and the environment. The paper provides an introduction to Serres’ mode of thought, focusing on his treatment of communication systems. It explores his articulation of noise, information, and thermodynamics and what this contributes to critical discussions of media ecology.
115. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Kathrin Otrel-Cass, Kristine Andrule Ontological Assumptions in Techno-Anthropological Explorations of Online Dialogue through Information Systems
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With the widespread infusion of online technology there has been an increase in various studies investigating the practices in online communities including also philosophical perspectives. What those debates have in common is that they call for more critical thinking about the theory of online communication. Drawing on Techno-Anthropological research perspectives, our interest is placed on exploring and identifying human interactions and technology in intersectional spaces. This article explores information systems that allow for interchanges of different users. We discuss ontological assumptions that focus on understanding the kind of dialogue that can be captured between different expert groups when they utilize information systems. We present the notion of ‘dialogic’ by Mikhail Bakhtin and contextualize it through an analysis of online dialogue. Dialogic or ‘conversation and inquiry’ is discussed as being mediated through human relationships. Acknowledging the existence of at least two voices the underlying differences between dialogue partners are highlighted.
116. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Galit Wellner, Lars Botin, Kathrin Otrel-Cass Techno-Anthropology: Guest Editors' Introduction
117. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Minna Ruckenstein, Mika Pantzar Datafied Life: Techno-Anthropology as a Site for Exploration and Experimentation
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Techno-Anthropology recognizes the intertwining of technology with aims, needs, practices, and skills; ‘the techno’ and ‘the anthro’ are not only interconnected, but historically co-constituted. In this paper developments in ‘personal analytics’ are examined with the aim of proposing epistemological and methodological directions for Techno-Anthropological exploration. Personal analytics refers to the field of interactions that surrounds tracking various bodily and mental functions, including the analysis, visualization, and distribution of the data, thereby encompassing people’s involvements with measuring devices and data movements. By discussing findings from a self-tracking study that focused on heart-rate variability measurement, the article opens for scrutiny ways in which personal data can translate people’s selves into a format that is engaging and actionable. This, in turn, enables researchers to witness and critically assess a terrain where bodily and mental capacities, and life itself, are not taken as given, but become part of the processes of everyday sense-making and contestation.
118. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Pieter Lemmens Cognitive Enhancement and Anthropotechnological Change: Towards an Organology and Pharmacology of Cognitive Enhancement Technologies
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Abstract: This article focuses on cognitive enhancement technologies (CET) and their possible anthropological implications, and argues for a reconsideration of the human-technology relation so as to be able to better understand and assess these implications. Current debates on cognitive enhancement (CE) consistently disregard the intimate intertwinement of humans and technology as well as the fundamentally technogenic nature of anthropogenesis. Yet, an adequate assessment of CET requires an in-depth and up-to-date re-conceptualization of both. Employing insights from the work of Bernard Stiegler, this article proposes an organology and pharmacology of CE. What is typical about new CET is their interiorizing nature, which can be expected to fundamentally reshape organological configurations. Starting from the premise that CE is a phenomenon that predominantly unfolds within the current conjuncture of cognitive capitalism, I will present the issue of cognitive proletarianization as being of crucial importance for considering CE. I conclude by providing some methodological guidelines for the development of a positive pharmacology of CET and by suggesting that CET should be considered as technologies of the self sensu Michel Foucault.
119. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Maja Hojer Bruun, Signe Hanghøj, Cathrine Hasse Studying Social Robots in Practiced Places
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What is the strength of anthropological fieldwork when we want to understand human technologies? In this article we argue that anthropological fieldwork can be understood as a process of gaining insight into different contextualisations in practiced places that will open up new understandings of technologies in use, e.g., technologies as multistable ontologies. The argument builds on an empirical study of robots at a Danish rehabilitation centre. Ethnographic methods combined with anthropological learning processes open up new way for exploring how robots enter into professional practices and change values, social relations and materialities. Though substantial funding has been invested in developing health service robots, few studies have been undertaken that explore human-robot interactions as they play out in everyday practice. We argue that the complex learning processes involve not only so-called end-users but also staff, management, doings and discourse in a complex amalgamation of materials and values.
120. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 19 > Issue: 2
Lars Botin The Technological Construction of the Self: Techno-Anthropological Readings and Reflections
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This paper aims at constructing the ontological and epistemological background for a methodology to be applied in Techno-Anthropological reflection and practice. The background is constructed as a patchwork, where structuralism, constructivism and post-phenomenology are woven together in order to support Techno-Anthropological reflection and practice in relation to the construction of the self through and with technology. The paper will specifically address what has been named the morality of things, primarily by Jacques Ellul, Hans Jonas, Michel Foucault and Peter-Paul Verbeek. It is the intent of this paper to point out a direction for an appropriate and value-based Techno-Anthropology. This direction is represented by a codex that here has been coined as the 7 ‘E’s: engagement, empathy, embodiment, enactment, enhancement, empowerment, and emancipation. The paper will conclude by showing how these are connected within a Techno-Anthropological perspective.