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Displaying: 1-20 of 22 documents


1. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 3
Johanna Seibt, Raffaele Rodogno Understanding Emotions and Their Significance through Social Robots, and Vice Versa
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2. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 3
Kerstin Fischer Why Collaborative Robots Must Be Social (and even Emotional) Actors
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In this article, I address the question whether or not robots should be social actors and suggest that we do not have much choice but to construe collaborative robots as social actors. Social cues, including emotional displays, serve coordination functions in human interaction and therefore have to be used, even by robots, in order for long-term collaboration to succeed. While robots lack the experiential basis of emotional display, also in human interaction much emotional expression is part of conventional social practice; if robots are to participate in such social practices, they need to produce such signals as well. I conclude that if we aim to share our social spaces with robots, they better be social actors, which may even include the display of emotions. This finding is of empirical as well as philosophical relevance because it shifts the ethical discussion away from the question, how social collaborative robots should be, to the question, what kinds of human-robot collaborations we want.
3. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 3
Janna van Grunsven, Aimee van Wynsberghe A Semblance of Aliveness: How the Peculiar Embodiment of Sex Robots Will Matter
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While the design of sex robots is still in the early stages, the social implications of the potential proliferation of sex robots into our lives has been heavily debated by activists and scholars from various disciplines. What is missing in the current debate on sex robots and their potential impact on human social relations is a targeted look at the boundedness and bodily expressivity typically characteristic of humans, the role that these dimensions of human embodiment play in enabling reciprocal human interactions, and the manner in which this contrasts with sex robot-human interactions. Through a fine-grained discussion of these themes, rooted in fruitful but largely untapped resources from the field of enactive embodied cognition, we explore the unique embodiment of sex robots. We argue that the embodiment of the sex robot is constituted by what we term restricted expressivity and a lack of bodily boundedness and that this is the locus of negative but also potentially positive implications. We discuss the possible benefits that these two dimensions of embodiment may have for people within a specific demographic, namely some persons on the autism spectrum. Our preliminary conclusion—that the benefits and the downsides of sex robots reside in the same capability of the robot, its restricted expressivity and lack of bodily boundedness as we call it—demands we take stock of future developments in the design of sex robot embodiment. Given the importance of evidence-based research pertaining to sex robots in particular, as reinforced by Nature (2017) for drawing correlations and making claims, the analysis is intended to set the stage for future research.
4. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 3
Jaana Parviainen, Lina van Aerschot, Tuomo Särkikoski, Satu Pekkarinen, Helinä Melkas Motions with Emotions?: A Phenomenological Approach to Understanding the Simulated Aliveness of a Robot Body
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This article examines how the interactive capabilities of companion robots, particularly their materiality and animate movements, appeal to human users and generate an image of aliveness. Building on Husserl’s phenomenological notion of a ‘double body’ and theories of emotions as affective responses, we develop a new understanding of the robots’ simulated aliveness. Analyzing empirical findings of a field study on the use of the robot Zora in care homes for older people, we suggest that the aliveness of companion robots is the result of a combination of four aspects: 1) material ingredients, 2) morphology, 3) animate movements guided by software programs and human operators as in Wizard of Oz-settings and 4) anthropomorphising narratives created by their users to support the robot’s performance. We suggest that narratives on affective states, such as, sleepiness or becoming frightened attached to the robot trigger users’ empathic feelings, caring and tenderness toward the robot.
5. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 3
Felix Tun Han Lo The Dilemma of Openness in Social Robots
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This paper conducts a philosophical inquiry into past empirical research that reveals emotional coupling and category confusion between the human and the social robot. It examines whether emotional coupling and category confusion would increase or diminish the reification of human emotion and the human milieu by examining whether they fulfill the ideal of openness in technology. The important theories of openness, from the respective proposals of open industrial machines by Gérard-Joseph Christian and Karl Marx, to Umberto Eco’s critique of open art and Gilbert Simondon’s philosophy of open technology, are in agreement that (i) openness is the condition for realizing the potentiality for transcending the existing aesthetic, technical, or social structure, and (ii) that the realization of potentiality would diminish the reification of the human milieu. The therapeutic effect of emotional coupling with social robots seems to fulfill this ideal of open technology, whereas category confusion seems to increase rather than diminish reification. If people confuse the robot with the human, they risk losing sight of the unpredictability of other human beings that is essential to human development. This paper concludes that it is possible to avoid category confusion by building social robots without giving them a human-like appearance.
6. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 3
Arto Laitinen, Marketta Niemelä, Jari Pirhonen Demands of Dignity in Robotic Care: Recognizing Vulnerability, Agency, and Subjectivity in Robot-based, Robot-assisted, and Teleoperated Elderly Care
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Having a sense of dignity is one of the core emotions in human life. Is our dignity, and accordingly also our sense of dignity under threat in elderly care, especially in robotic care? How can robotic care support or challenge human dignity in elderly care? The answer will depend on whether it is robot-based, robot-assisted, or teleoperated care that is at stake. Further, the demands and realizations of human dignity have to be distinguished. The demands to respect humans are based on human dignity and the inalienable high and equal moral standing that everyone has. For human moral agents, these demands take the form of negative and positive duties. For robots, they arguably take the form of corresponding ought-to-be norms. The realizations of dignity consist in variable responses to these demands, by oneself by others, and by society at large. This article examines how robot-based, robot-assisted, and teleoperated care can amount to realizations of dignity. The varieties of robotic care can, in different ways, be responsive to the demands of dignity and recognize humans as vulnerable beings with needs, as autonomous agents, and as rational subjects of experience, emotion, and thought.
7. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 3
Sven Nyholm, Lily Eva Frank It Loves Me, It Loves Me Not: Is It Morally Problematic to Design Sex Robots that Appear to Love Their Owners?
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Drawing on insights from robotics, psychology, and human-computer interaction, developers of sex robots are currently aiming to create emotional bonds of attachment and even love between human users and their products. This is done by creating robots that can exhibit a range of facial expressions, that are made with human-like artificial skin, and that possess a rich vocabulary with many conversational possibilities. In light of the human tendency to anthropomorphize artefacts, we can expect that designers will have some success and that this will lead to the attribution of mental states to the robot that the robot does not actually have, as well as the inducement of significant emotional responses in the user. This raises the question of whether it might be ethically problematic to try to develop robots that appear to love their users. We discuss three possible ethical concerns about this aim: first, that designers may be taking advantage of users’ emotional vulnerability; second, that users may be deceived; and, third, that relationships with robots may block off the possibility of more meaningful relationships with other humans. We argue that developers should attend to the ethical constraints suggested by these concerns in their development of increasingly humanoid sex robots. We discuss two different ways in which they might do so.
8. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 3
Michał Klincewicz Robotic Nudges for Moral Improvement through Stoic Practice
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This article offers a theoretical framework that can be used to derive viable engineering strategies for the design and development of robots that can nudge people towards moral improvement. The framework relies on research in developmental psychology and insights from Stoic ethics. Stoicism recommends contemplative practices that over time help one develop dispositions to behave in ways that improve the functioning of mechanisms that are constitutive of moral cognition. Robots can nudge individuals towards these practices and can therefore help develop the dispositions to, for example, extend concern to others, avoid parochialism, etc.
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9. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Daniel Vella, Stefano Gualeni Virtual Subjectivity: Existence and Projectuality in Virtual Worlds
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This paper draws on the notion of the ‘project,’ as developed in the existential philosophy of Heidegger and Sartre, to articulate an understanding of the existential structure of engagement with virtual worlds. By this philosophical understanding, the individual’s orientation towards a project structures a mechanism of self-determination, meaning that the project is understood essentially as the project to make oneself into a certain kind of being. Drawing on existing research from an existential-philosophical perspective on subjectivity in digital game environments, the notion of a ‘virtual subjectivity’ is proposed to refer to the subjective sense of being-in-the-virtual-world. The paper proposes an understanding of virtual subjectivity as standing in a nested relation to the individual’s subjectivity in the actual world, and argues that it is this relation that allows virtual world experience to gain significance in the light of the individual’s projectual existence. The arguments advanced in this paper pave the way for a comprehensive understanding of the transformative, self-transformative, and therapeutic possibilities and advantages afforded by virtual worlds.
10. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Murray Skees Aporia and Wonder in the Age of Big Data
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My argument in this paper is given in two parts. In Part I, I review the ancient understanding of aporia, focusing on works by Plato and Aristotle. I illustrate two ways of understanding aporia: “cathartic” and “zetetic.” Cathartic aporia refers to the experience of being purged of hubris and ignorance through the dialectic. Zetetic aporia, on the other hand, requires us to engage in, recognize, and work through certain philosophical puzzles or problems. In Part II, I discuss the idea of Big Data and then argue that in the “age of answers” neither conception of aporia appears to be necessarily cultivated by the average Internet user. Our experience of wonder suffers when we rely so heavily on the Internet as a “surrogate expert,” and when our social media use betrays the fact that we always seem to gravitate towards the like-minded.
11. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Julia M. Hildebrand On Self-Driving Cars as a Technological Sublime
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Driverless automobility presents a “technological sublime” (Marx 1964; Nye 1994, 1997) encompassing both promises and perils. The light side of the emerging transportation future lies, for instance, in the newly gained freedom from driving. The dark side of this sublime includes ethical challenges and potential harm resulting from the required socio-technical transformations of mobility. This article explores contemporary visions for the self-driving car future through the lens of the sublime and some of its theoretical variations, such as the natural (Kant 1965), technological (Marx 1964; Nye 1994, 1997), electrical (Carey and Quirk 1989), and digital (Mosco 2005) sublime. Nissan’s IDS Concept preview clip (2015) and the Chevrolet FNR trailer (2015) serve as examples for this analysis, which aims to demythologize the visual rhetoric of the depicted awe-inspiring self-driving systems. The sublime’s inherent dialectic of inducing both pleasure and displeasure is removed in the corporate utopian visions in favor of an exalting partnership between human and machine. This strategy succeeds by setting the mobility future in the context of controlled parameters such as the trustworthy communicative vehicle, the vital and independent protagonists, and the harmless and unharmed environment. Recognizing such recurring strategies and identifying the controlled parameters which allow the sublime object to electrify, not terrify, is key for a sensible engagement with such imagined futures and their social, cultural, political, economic, environmental, and ethical implications. Such premediations (Grusin 2010) of awe-inspiring technological formations and the underlying logics ask to be unpacked toward decision making that considers all potential facets of the sublime future.
12. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Gonzalo Abad, Aritz Milikua, Igor Baraia-Etxaburu Electric Technology in Wind Turbines from a Dialectic Perspective
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Wind turbines have been used by many groups of humans for many centuries. Wind turbines have allowed groups of humans to perform many different tasks in the past (grinding grain, pumping water, etc.). However, only a century and a half ago, they began to be used to convert the energy captured from wind into electric energy. Moreover, only approximately twenty-five years ago, we started to introduce on a massive scale the energy generated from wind turbines into the electric networks of most developed countries in the world for regular consumption. According to 2017 statistics, approximately 12 percent of the electric energy consumed in the EU is produced by wind turbines. Despite the fact that wind turbines generally appear quite similar externally—i.e., a three-blade structure, a nacelle, a tower, etc.—if we carefully examine the electric technology used within them, we find quite a wide range of technologies for energy conversion, which is a key issue in wind turbine technology. Hence, this paper adopts a dialectic perspective towards analyzing and understanding why several electric technologies coexist in wind turbine technology. We explain the specific factors that have influenced different wind turbine manufacturers to adopt different electric technologies across the last twenty-five years. We show how their actions and the technological directions that have followed have been mutually codetermined, resulting in a technological evolution that has produced today’s wind turbine variety.
13. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Yu-cheng Liu A Techno-Philosophical Perspective on How Acceleration Becomes Autopoietic: Simplification as a Function of Technology
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This study examines mainly two subjects: “Why do we accelerate?” and “How does acceleration become autopoietic?” The answers to these questions may be derived from technical, social, or psychological approaches. However, they provide only an incomplete picture if a perspective from the philosophy of technology is not considered alongside. In addition to offering different viewpoints on the essence of technology, technics, or technē, this study will focus on the notion of distance as a key to answering the above questions. Conventionally, people usually understand that technology distances humans from nature. However, what does that mean? First of all, the idea of “nature” considered in this research refers to a distinction of non-nature/nature. A distinction implies a distance between both sides. Technology belongs to the side of non-nature, and creates a distance with the other side. The distance is getting enlarged when humans depend heavily on technology to reconnect humans to nature. In shortening or overcoming the distance, acceleration becomes autopoietic and leads to a paradox that can be unfolded only through accelerating more. In this study, technology is considered as a system functioning as simplification to create and to overcome alternately a distance with its environment, including nature. Through which technology not only acquires a tendency of acceleration, but also self-produces it. The development of writing tools from knots to tactile technology is investigated to provide a better understanding of the phenomenon of acceleration and its impact on humans and the world. In the end, it may be possible to think of a general theory of how acceleration becomes autopoietic.
14. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Sadjad Soltanzadeh A Practically Useful Metaphysics of Technology
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In the past couple of decades, there has been a tendency to identify the study of artefacts as one of the central subject matters of philosophy of technology. This subject identification relies on a metaphysical distinction between artefacts and non-artefacts, and is supported by the premise that artefacts are philosophically significant in ways that non-artefacts are not. Here it is argued that if we want philosophy of technology to be practically useful, the artefact/non-artefact distinction is a misleading place to start, as this distinction is developed through a metaphysical approach which is of little use for practical decisions and evaluations. Instead, we need to adopt a different metaphysical approach which is practically useful. This alternative approach is called activity realism, as opposed to entity realism in light of which artefacts are defined. Activity realism provides a metaphysical foundation for a practically useful philosophy of technology.
book review
15. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Lantz Fleming Miller A Way Out of Techno-limbo
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16. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Joni Turville From “You’ve Got Mail” to Email Overload: A Postphenomenological Genealogy of Email
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Using a postphenomenological approach, this article follows the history of email from its first development by and for the scientific community, through its commercialization, and into its modern-day integration with mobile devices. Five historical variations are identified: emergence, propagation, habituation and commercialization, supersaturation, and evanescence. Finally, I propose a model that describes not only the evolution of email, but potentially other digital communications tools. Studying the history of a technology can provide insight into both its past and contemporary applications, and may prompt more thoughtful use.
17. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Mo Abolkheir If You Wish to Invent Then Follow the Half-Causation Method
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The Half-Causation Method is a metaphysical-epistemic model for developing industrialised technological inventions. It consists of five phases of reasoning through which methodological success is achieved. The Method is named after its first phase, which consists of a methodological idealisation of the causal process, by pinpointing half of a possible causal relation while ignoring everything else. Following this, the Method prescribes how the reasoning should proceed, which ultimately constructs a complete and novel causal process. Each phase terminates with an epistemic justification which the inventor (or inventors) can share with other knowers and have them deliberated and scrutinised. As such, the entire process of developing industrialised technological inventions, including the early stages which are traditionally regarded as mysterious can be understood as a sequence of epistemic justifications. In this paper, the Half-Causation Method is presented as a detailed practical prescription for future projects which aim to develop industrialised technological inventions. Throughout the paper two case studies from the recent history of technology are used as exemplars, namely: the invention of the microwave oven and the invention of the centrifugal vacuum cleaner. First, a definition of the ‘technological invention’ is proposed. Following that, the prescription is presented as fifteen methodological instructions: three instructions that repeat at each phase. The prescription is supplemented by a set-theoretic diagram. Although this is a philosophy paper, it is spoken directly to the scientists and engineers who aim to direct part of their research towards the development of inventions.
18. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Jonathan Simon The Medical Drug as a Technological Object
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This article considers the medical drug as a technological object, in order to determine what philosophy of technology can bring to the study of pharmaceuticals and what the study of medical drugs can bring to the philosophy of technology. This approach will allow us to locate the differences between the medical drug and other objects that usually form the focus for studies in the philosophy of technology, and to discuss the problematic fit of the models proposed in the field to pharmaceuticals. After reflecting on the origins of this problem in both the philosophy of pharmacy and the philosophy of technology, I propose an examination of medical drugs using an analytical schema developed by Andrew Feenberg. I expose several shortcomings of this ‘post-phenomenological’ philosophy of technology applied to medical drugs. Despite the various problems identified, I nevertheless argue that the philosophy of technology is useful for thinking about medical drugs, particularly because of the emphasis it places on the social and political dimensions of technology. In conclusion, I argue in favour of a more open, eclectic philosophical engagement with medical drugs that puts more emphasis on their economic, social and political dimensions.
19. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Ashwin Jayanti Instrumental Realisms and their Ontological Commitments
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This paper shall concern itself with two variants of instrumental realism that have developed independently of each other and have made a mark on contemporary philosophies of science as well as of technology in their own respective ways. One is that of Don Ihde, the progenitor of the postphenomenological approach to technoscience, and the other that of Davis Baird, who emphasizes the epistemic centrality of instruments as bearers of knowledge in themselves. I shall juxtapose Ihde’s instrumental realism with the instrumental realism of Baird, both of whom emphasize the importance of experimentation and instrumentation to any comprehensive philosophy of science. Whereas Ihde wants to extend hermeneutics to science praxis, Baird wants to maintain an epistemological commitment to what he calls ‘thing knowledge.’ In comparing and contrasting these two variants of instrumental realism, I shall discern the implicit ontological and epistemological claims that underlie the two realisms in the background of scientific realism and critically evaluate their contributions to a more comprehensive understanding of science, technology, and the relation between the two.
20. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Trine Antonsen, Erik Lundestad Borgmann and the Non-Neutrality of Technology
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The paper focuses on Albert Borgmann’s philosophy of technology. We argue in support of Borgmann’s “Churchill principle” (“we shape our buildings, and afterwards they shape us”) as presented in Real American Ethics (RAE) (2006) by comparing it to findings within behavioral economics in general and to the “libertarian paternalism” of Cass R. Sunstein and Richard H. Thaler in particular. According to our interpretation of it, the Churchill principle implies that because our material environment in fact influences our choices, this environment can and should be rearranged so that we “automatically” will tend to make better decisions. Having defended the Churchill principle, we go on to discuss how this principle is related to Borgmann’s approach in Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life (TCCL) (1984). In this earlier work, Borgmann suggests we reform technology by making room for focal practices, that is, meaningful practices in which we develop our skills and excellences. We argue that while these two works have different basic approaches—rearranging the material environment in RAE and developing certain skills and excellences in TCCL—they can and ought to be seen, not as mutually excluding, but as supplementing one another. Together they form a highly salient critique of technology that takes into consideration questions of the good life without becoming overly paternalistic.