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1. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 3
Esther Keymolen In Search of Friction: A New Postphenomenological Lens to Analyze Human-Smartphone Interactions
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Considering the key mediating role that smartphones play in everyday life, a postphenomenological analysis to better understand how we have power over these devices, how these artifacts empower and simultaneously can overpower us, seems highly relevant. This article will show that in order to engage in such a much-needed postphenomenological analysis, we will first have to address three fundamental, methodological challenges. The first challenge is brought forth by the personalized interface of smartphones, hindering postphenomenologists to unravel the so-called multistability of the device through variational analysis, which typically is an anchoring point in their analysis. The second challenge is that the networked ontology of smartphones disrupts the ideal-typical hermeneutic relationship end-users have with their smartphone. The third, closely related challenge, comes with the general focus of postphenomenology on the everyday life, first-person experience of users, which leaves many, significant stabilities hidden behind the smartphone’s interface.
2. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 3
Johannes F. M. Schick The Potency of Open Objects: (Re-)Inventing New Modes of Being Human in the Digital Age with Bergson, Franco “Bifo” Berardi, and Simondon
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This essay researches the relation of the human being to technology in the Digital Age, employing the philosophies of Henri Bergson, Franco “Bifo” Berardi, and Gilbert Simondon. These conceptions allow for a critique of the quasi-religious belief in Singularity in the transhuman discourse of Artificial Intelligence and its underlying ontology. This ontology is based upon the belief that the world is predictable and computable. To develop a symmetrical relationship with technology in the digital age, I will argue for an ontological model of participation and novelty that conceives of living beings as constantly inventing and re-inventing new modes of being. Being human means to reinvents itself constantly by diachronically relating to its own contemporary condition as well as to the tool making origins of mankind. It implies that the technical objects have to be open in order to create a symmetrical relation with them.
3. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 3
Filippo Fabrocini, Kostas Terzidis Re-framing AI: An AI Product Designer Perspective
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AI is “essentially detached” from the world. The intrinsic nature of this technology precludes a proper space of negotiation between the different human and non-human actors involved and leads to an ideology of control. The challenge of the designer consists in looking across the black box, as opposed to looking inside, in order to visualise, sense, and experience why AI is leading us, and where, and how. These questions are as important as the algorithmic questions. The missing integration between human and artificial intelligence must be compensated for by mechanisms of social governance. These mechanisms should adopt an approach of constructive engagement with the limits of AI through the inclusion of social learning processes involving the different stakeholders, starting with ordinary citizens. Designing a “good” AI means to give up on a de-situated and socially detached understanding for engaging a community of actors while sharing a common concern.
4. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 3
Laetitia Van den Bergen, Robin Van den Akker Biomimicry and Nature as Sympoiesis: A Case Study into Living Machines
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Formulating how biomimicry relates to nature has been crucial to ‘deepening’ its theory. Currently, an autopoietic model of nature dominates the literature. However, advances in the natural and human sciences have demonstrated that autopoiesis does not adequately explain complex, dynamic, responsive, and situated systems. This article draws on Beth Dempster’s (1998) characterisation of ecosystems as sympoietic, that is as homeorhetic, evolutionary, distributively controlled, unpredictable, and adaptive, and on Donna Jeanne Haraway’s (2016) critique that entities do not pre-exist their relationships. We argue that using sympoietic processes of becoming as our model, measure, and mentor impacts biomimicry’s practice and relation to sustainability. Taking John Todd’s Living Machines as a case study, we explicate how sympoiesis unfurls autopoiesis. By integrating advances in the natural and human sciences into the philosophy of biomimicry, we address the limitations of the autopoietic model and provide a more comprehensive and adequate model of ‘nature.’
5. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 3
Rua M. Williams I, Misfit: Empty Fortresses, Social Robots, and Peculiar Relations in Autism Research
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I draw upon Critical Disability Studies and Race Critical Code Studies to apply an oppositional reading of applied robotics in autism intervention. Roboticists identify care work as a prime legitimizing application for their creations. Popular imagination of robotics in therapeutic or rehabilitative contexts figures the robot as nurse or orderly. Likewise, the dominant narrative tropes of autism are robotic—misfit androids, denizens of the uncanny valley. Diagnostic measures reinforce tropes of autistic uncanniness: monotonous speech, jerky movements, and systematic, over-logical minds. Today, robots are pitched as therapeutic tools to intervene in the social (under)development of autistic children; robots with monotonous voices, jerky, dis-coordinated movements, unsettling affect, and behavior predicated on a system of finite state logic. I present eerie and uneasy connections between the discredited works on autism and selfhood by Bettelheim and contemporary rehabilitative robotics research and imagine possibilities for robotics to divest from legacies of enslavement and policing.
6. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 3
Dairon Alfonso Rodríguez Ramírez, Jorge Francisco Maldonado Serrano Causal Cognition and Skillful Tool Use
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An epistemological account of tool use is fundamental for a better comprehension of technical objects within the philosophy of technology. In this paper, we put forward an answer to the question “What is the role of causal cognition in skillful tool use?” We argue that an interventionist account of causal representation enables us to see how cases of skillful tool use presuppose the acquisition of representations of the causal relationships between direct interventions on a tool and the desired effects. This approach allows us to explain two of the main features of skillful tool use: systematicity and generality.
special section on technology and pandemic
7. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 3
Cora Olson, Claire Simpson Race: The American Trajectory of an Aimless Disease
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We argue that dominant white cultural views and public health co-produce race as a technology that charts the path of viral transmission away from the white bodies to form a trajectory for an otherwise aimless disease. This epistemological project is one enmeshed in popular culture, medical practice, and biopolitics. COVID-19 and the related Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement work together to make visible the narrative technologies. This project contributes to understanding race and public health as co-constituted in ways that shape imaginative possibilities, material and agential realties, and health outcomes in light of COVID-19. Our argument is novel in naming race a technology of American public health and taking up Coeckelbergh and Reijers’ call for a normative theory of narrative technology. We extend Coeckelbergh and Reijers’ narrative technologies to include race, a narrative artifact, co-produced by biology, public health, and individual actors.
8. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 3
Hsiang-Yun Chen, Li-an Yu, Linus Ta-Lun Huang To Mask or Not to Mask: Epistemic Injustice in the COVID-19 Pandemic
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Reluctance to adopt mask-wearing as a preventive measure is widely observed in many Western societies since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemics. This reluctance toward mask adoption, like any other complex social phenomena, will have multiple causes. Plausible explanations have been identified, including political polarization, skepticism about media reports and the authority of public health agencies, and concerns over liberty, amongst others. In this paper, we propose potential explanations hitherto unnoticed, based on the framework of epistemic injustice. We show how testimonial injustice and hermeneutical injustice may be at work to shape the reluctant mask adoption at both the societal and individual levels. We end by suggesting how overcoming these epistemic injustices can benefit the global community in this challenging situation and in the future.
book reviews
9. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 3
Austin Keith Twenty Stages toward a Philosophy of Engineering: Review of Steps toward a Philosophy of Engineering: Historico-Philosophical and Critical Essays, by Carl Mitcham
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10. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 25 > Issue: 3
Galit Wellner Where Is the Learning in Machine Learning?: Review of Posthumanist Learning: What Robots and Cyborgs Teach Us about Being Ultra-Social, by Cathrine Hasse
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11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.