Cover of Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology
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articles
1. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Johanna Seifert, Orsolya Friedrich, Sebastian Schleidgen On Humans and Machines: Anthropological Considerations on “Intelligent” Neurotechnologies (INTs)
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In the present article we examine the anthropological implications of “intelligent” neurotechnologies (INTs). For this purpose, we first give an introduction to current developments of INTs by specifying their central characteristics. We then present and discuss traditional anthropological concepts such as the “homo faber,” the concept of humans as “deficient beings,” and the concept of the “cyborg,” questioning their descriptive relevance regarding current neurotechnological applications. To this end, we relate these anthropological concepts to the characteristics of INTs elaborated before. As we show, the explanatory validity of the anthropological concepts analyzed in this article vary significantly. While the concept of the homo faber, for instance, is not capable of adequately describing the anthropological implications of new INTs, the cyborg proves to be capable of grasping several aspects of today’s neurotechnologies. Nevertheless, alternative explanatory models are needed in order to capture the new characteristics of INTs in their full complexity.
2. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Joel Bock Overcoming Simondonian Alienation: A Critique of the Dichotomy between the Psycho-physical and the Politico-economic
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This paper engages in an interpretation and critique of Simondon’s approach to technical objects through his concept of alienation. I begin with his argument for why the fundamental source of alienation is “psycho-physical” and explain his critique of politico-economic analyses of alienation. I then explain his proposal for reducing alienation by rethinking work as “technical activity.” I then argue that while Simondon’s analyses of the internal functionality of technical objects provide important contributions to the philosophy of technology, he also overemphasizes the psycho-physical and in turn underestimates the role of politico-economic factors in the ontogenesis of technical objects and production of alienation. Both the psycho-physical and politico-economic, I claim, must be thought together as necessarily interconnected conditions of the ontogenesis of technical objects. On that basis, it becomes possible to engage in philosophical critique of and education about the inner functionality of contemporary technologies and their accompanying risks.
3. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Abigail Nieves Delgado, Laura Kocksch Privacy in Social Media: A Perspective from the Logic of Care
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Privacy loss is one of the primary issues associated with the use of social media or social network sites. These sites operate by collecting and sharing data from users to obtain economic revenue. As a solution, it is recommended that users be informed about safe online practices and that they should behave accordingly. However, this does not usually happen, which makes privacy regulations ineffective. We argue that a top-down, control-focused approach to privacy, such as that found in the European Commission’s recent General Data Protection Regulation, does not capture the way online practices unfold and fails to prevent privacy issues. Instead, we frame privacy using the concept of the “logic of care,” an approach that promotes a situated analysis of online practices and of the diverse actors involved (users, companies, regulators, etc.). This shift favors the creation of safer interactions on social network sites instead of restrictive regulations.
4. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Ehsan Arzroomchilar “Structural Ethics” as a Framework to Study the Moral Role of Non-Humans
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A challenging issue within the philosophy of technology is the moral relevancy of artifacts. While many philosophers agree that artifacts have moral significance, there are numerous positions on how moral relevancy ought to be understood, ranging from scholars who argue that there is no room for artifacts in moral debates to those who argue for the moral agency of artifacts. In this paper, I attempt to avoid extreme positions; accordingly, I reject both the neutrality thesis and the moral agency of artifacts thesis. Instead, I propose finding a compromise for describing their moral role. In doing so, I take Philip Brey’s idea of developing a new framework, called ‘Structural Ethics,’ as my point of departure. Although the structural ethics proposed by Brey needs some revisions, it may serve as a proper metaethical theory to account for the role of non-humans.
5. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Karolina Kudlek Challenges in the Human Enhancement Debate: A Critical Review
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The discussion about human enhancement technologies has primarily focused on exchanging views about the dangers and benefits of these interventions. However, the debate could benefit from a systematic attempt to move beyond pro et contra exchange. Thus, in this paper, I analyze key issues in the human enhancement debate, and I outline a set of methodological guidelines that could help to progress future research. I propose that we should pay special attention to the following conditions: (i) whether a particular enhancement project is plausibly coherent, feasible, and effective; (ii) whether it conflicts with fundamental moral values and norms; and (iii) whether it is compatible with or promotes socio-political goals of equality and justice. This approach should help us minimize normative ambiguity and facilitate the moral assessment of different enhancements and their particular applications.
6. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Steven Gamboa Google-car's Extended Mind
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While the value of the extended mind hypothesis for human cognition is disputed, this paper examines the explanatory utility of the extended mind framework in the domain of AI systems, specifically the Google self-driving car. I argue that the cognitive architecture of the Google-car is best explained as an instance of extended cognition. The argument for this claim begins with a description of the Google-car’s cognitive architecture, including the indispensable role of “prior maps” in its performance. I then argue that the hypothesis of extended cognition provides a better explanation of the Google-car’s performance than two rival, non-extended alternatives. Consideration of the Google-car also offers insight into whether driverless vehicles have achieved human-level competency in the cognitive skills required for driving, or instead remain “poor substitutes.”
book review
7. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Martin Ritter Freedom in the Age of Climate Change: Review of Green Leviathan or the Poetics of Political Liberty: Navigating Freedom in the Age of Climate Change and Artificial Intelligence, by Mark Coeckelbergh
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articles
8. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Dina Babushkina What Does It Mean for a Robot to Be Respectful?
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Intelligent systems are increasingly incorporated into relationships that had, until recently, been reserved solely for humans, and are delegated the role of a partner, which, if human, would presuppose a system of normatively regulated interactivity. This includes expectations of reciprocity and certain attitudes/actions towards human actors, such as respect. Even though a robot cannot respect, I argue that it can be respectful. A robot can be attributed respectfulness (in the direct sense) iff its interactions with persons reflect the respectful attitude of the humans involved in its design and operation. Robot respectfulness is a compound of (a) robotic actions governed by principles that (b) reflect the attitude of respect for persons by humans involved in its design, implementation, and professional use. I define respect for persons as a commitment to core values that make someone a person (i.e., intellect, rationality of reactive attitudes, autonomy, personal integrity, and trust in expertise).
9. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
John Danaher Technological Change and Human Obsolescence: An Axiological Analysis
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Can human life have value in a world in which humans are rendered obsolete by technological advances? This article answers this question by developing an extended analysis of the axiological impact of human obsolescence. In doing so, it makes four main arguments. First, it argues that human obsolescence is a complex phenomenon that can take on at least four distinct forms. Second, it argues that one of these forms of obsolescence (‘actual-general’ obsolescence) is not a coherent concept and hence not a plausible threat to human well-being. Third, it argues that existing fears of technologically-induced human obsolescence are less compelling than they first appear. Fourth, it argues that there are two reasons for embracing a world of widespread, technologically-induced human obsolescence.
10. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Alexander Castleton Postphenomenology or Essentialism?: An Exploration of Inuit Commercialization of Country Foods through Facebook
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Inuit customs establish that food must be shared with the community. For many Inuit, income from wage-work feeds back into the subsistence economy, as money is needed to buy snowmobiles, gas, or rifles to practice harvesting activities. In the last decade, both scholars and journalists have noted that the commercialization of traditional foods (also known as country foods) through Facebook is a current controversy among Inuit. This article will discuss this issue contrasting technological essentialism and postphenomenology. While technological essentialism establishes, from a Heideggerian perspective, that technology transforms reality into pure resource, postphenomenology focuses on describing how technology helps to shape the relations between humans and the world. This article will propose that the commercialization of country foods reflects Facebook’s multistability—that is, the fact that any given technology can present the world in multiple ways.
11. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Gordon Hull Infrastructure, Modulation, Portal: Thinking with Foucault about how Internet Architecture Shapes Subjects
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Following Foucault’s remarks on the importance of architecture to disciplinary power, this paper offers a typology of power relations expressed in different models of Internet governance. Infrastructure governance understands the Internet as a common pool or public resource, on the model of traditional infrastructures like roads and bridges. Modulation governance, which I study by way of Net Neutrality debates in the U.S., understands Internet governance as traffic shaping. Portal governance, which I study by way of data collection policies of dominant platform companies, understands the Internet as creating a user experience that facilitates data mining. The latter two are forms of architectural disciplinary power that undermine the first. I then argue that the rise of portal and modulation governance primarily serves to remake parts of civil society by fostering market norms of consumption and entrepreneurialism. In that sense, efforts to shape Internet architecture need to be understood as techniques of subjectification.
12. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Cristiano Cordeiro Cruz Decolonial Approaches to Technical Design: Building Other Possible Worlds and Widening Philosophy of Technology
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Decolonial approaches to technical design are part of a broader category of design methodologies, which actualize unfulfilled sociotechnical potentialities. In this paper, I present some decolonial theory concepts and discuss three decolonial approaches to illuminate philosophical debates that: 1) Can find in them clear traces of a third set of elements that shape every design/technology, along with the well-analyzed technical-scientific and ethical-political ones. In dialogue with Walter Vincenti and some others, I call these elements structured procedures, imagery lexicon, and aesthetical values, which constitute the central aspects of Eugene Ferguson’s art of engineering; 2) Identify, starting from some Gilbert Simondon’s and Andrew Feenberg’s ideas, any invention as triply situated (in the physical environment, the established sociotechnical reality, and the inventor’s culture and knowledge); 3) Can be taught by these decolonial approaches about some of the mainstream philosophy of technology’s colonial limitations, becoming thus able to widen (or decolonize) it.
13. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Piercosma Bisconti, Antonio Carnevale Alienation and Recognition: The Δ Phenomenology of the Human–Social Robot Interaction (HSRI)
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A crucial philosophical problem of social robots is how much they perform a kind of sociality in interacting with humans. Scholarship diverges between those who sustain that humans and social robots cannot by default have social interactions and those who argue for the possibility of an asymmetric sociality. Against this dichotomy, we argue in this paper for a holistic approach called “Δ phenomenology” of HSRI (Human–Social Robot Interaction). In the first part of the paper, we will analyse the semantics of an HSRI. This is what leads a human being (x) to assign or receive a meaning of sociality (z) by interacting with a social robot (y). Hence, we will question the ontological structure underlying HSRIs, suggesting that HSRIs may lead to a peculiar kind of user alienation. By combining all these variables, we will formulate some final recommendations for an ethics of social robots.
special section on technology and pandemic
14. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Nolen Gertz Accommodating Ourselves to Death: COVID and the Threat of Technological Solutions to Human Crises
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COVID-19 has created new opportunities for tech companies to supply the world with technological solutions intended to help individuals, communities, and nations maintain normalcy in the midst of disease, death, and destruction. Technologies such as virtual meeting software, coronavirus monitoring apps, and air filtration systems raise the question of whether our technological resiliency is not only helping us to maintain life as it was before, but also preventing us from asking whether we should maintain life as it was before. By comparing Sartre’s analysis of what it was like to live during the Nazi occupation of Paris to current attempts to live during the pandemic, this article investigates how the technological solutions that maintain ordinary life in the midst of catastrophe should lead us to question the catastrophic nature of what we take to be ordinary life.
15. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Jill Drouillard Feminist Moral Tensions for a Nomadic Subject: Navigating the Pandemic
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This article uses the figure of the nomad from the work of Rosi Braidotti to critically examine rhetoric about vaccine and masking mandates, and the science of COVID more broadly. I draw out the tensions and ambivalence felt as we navigate this on-going crisis in ways epitomized by the phrase “I have a healthy mistrust of authority, and I am still vaccinated.” Though ambivalent, the nomadic subject finds an affirmative ethics, navigating the “right” response to incite positive change and expose our current states of subjectivity. Recognizing the ambivalence of this state may be useful for feminists who critique medicine for its historical sexist and racist “objectivism,” while also supporting medical science and trust in the case of vaccine mandates.
book reviews
16. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Michał Wieczorek The Good Life after the Narrative Turn: Review of Narrative and Technology Ethics, by Wessel Reijers and Mark Coeckelbergh
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17. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Pan Baojun The Origin and Evolution of Philosophy of Technology: Comments on The Thoughtful History of Philosophy of Technology: Review of The Thoughtful History of Philosophy of Technology, edited by Chen Fan and Zhu Chunyan
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articles
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.