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articles
1. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 3
Vitaly Pronskikh The Ethical Aspects of Choosing a Nuclear Fuel Cycle
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In this paper, we addressed the problem of choosing a nuclear fuel cycle. Ethical problems related to the choice of a nuclear fuel cycle, such as the depletion of natural uranium reserves, the accumulation of nuclear waste, and the connection with the problems of nonidentity and distributive justice are considered. We examined cultural differences in attitudes toward nuclear safety and the associated ambiguities in the choice of a nuclear fuel cycle. We suggested that the reduction in consumption of natural uranium does not seem to be a feasible way of reducing nuclear waste because of the nonidentity problem.
2. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 3
Sanne Lisborg, Oliver Tafdrup Virtual Laboratories and Posthuman Learning
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The increasing use of virtual laboratories in education raises new philosophical—and perhaps especially phenomenological—questions related to how this type of technological mediation affects the user’s sense of situated embodied being: sensory perception. The empirical basis of this phenomenological inquiry is a case study conducted in a Danish school setting. This allows us to compare analog laboratory work with virtual. Inspired by Maurice Merleau-Ponty, we describe how pupils’ bodily and multisensory interactions with laboratory tools differ across physical and virtual settings. Virtual laboratories are complex, sociotechnical, often opaque practices that affect the pupils’ sense of embodiment, thus prompting the need for in situ development of hermeneutical strategies for bridging the gap between the simulated laboratory and the physical world. In the final section, we discuss how these strategies can be considered posthuman learning processes.
3. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 3
Ana Cuevas-Badallo A Naturalistic View of the Technical Artifacts
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This paper suggests revising the notion of in consideration of the naturalist position. I analyze whether the characterizations of technical artifacts proposed by the philosophy of technology can be extended to include the technical creations of other organisms. This will be done using the theories of “niche construction” and “organisms as ecosystem engineers.” Those theories would allow us to understand human technical creations within what human beings do naturally and in gradual continuity with what other species do.
4. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 3
Mark Thomas Young How Artifacts Acquire Agency
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It is common to view the technologies that surround us as either tools or machines. This distinction is often understood to reflect a difference between kinds of technology: those which operate by human agency, and those which operate by their own, technological form of performative agency. This paper aims to explore how common arguments for the performative agency of machines ultimately fail to establish the claim that anything other than humans are capable of performing tasks. In light of such problems, I will propose an alternative conception which understands machines to be distinguished by the way in which the human agency on which they depend is concealed. After examining reasons why we should consider this concealment to represent a social rather than technological phenomenon, this paper concludes by exploring implications this view holds for the way in which the ethics of automation is approached in the philosophy of technology.
5. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 3
Tom Sorell Deepfakes and Political Misinformation in U.S. Elections
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Audio and video footage produced with the help of AI can show politicians doing discreditable things that they have not actually done. This is deepfaked material. Deepfakes are sometimes claimed to have special powers to harm the people depicted and their audiences—powers that more traditional forms of faked imagery and sound footage lack. According to some philosophers, deepfakes are particularly “believable,” and widely available technology will soon make deepfakes proliferate. I first give reasons why deepfake technology is not particularly well suited to producing “believable” political misinformation in a sense to be defined. Next, I challenge claims from Don Fallis and Regina Rini about the consequences of the wide availability of deepfakes. My argument is not that deepfakes are harmless, but that their power to do major harm is highly conditional in liberal party political environments that contain sophisticated mass-media.
6. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 3
Anette Forss Digitalizing Nursing Education Amid Covid-19: Technological Breakdown Through a Reflexive and Postphenomenological Lens
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The incorporation of digital technologies in higher education has become a research topic actualized by the Covid-19 pandemic, including the re-thinking of theories and ontological assumptions supporting the role of these technologies in blended learning. Using nursing education in urban Sweden as an example, I present a reflexive and postphenomenological analysis of critical incidents during the use of an online assessment software for high stakes exams during the Covid-19 outbreak. Based on the analysis, I argue that the rapid digitalization prompted by the Covid-19 outbreak illuminates the importance of articulating digital technologies in higher education as human-technology relations in light of the philosophy of technology, notably postphenomenology. I conclude that postphenomenology can be helpful to clarify the non-neutrality and multistability of digital technologies and to articulate nuances of the human-technology relation, in blended learning.
book review
7. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 3
Alexei Grinbaum Reimaging the Imaginaries of Artificial Intelligence
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8. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Ian Werkheiser, Michael Butler Reality, Attention, and Sociality: Towards a Philosophy of Digital Worlds
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9. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Maciej Bednarski The Use of Digital Technology and Processes of Displacement
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In this paper, I discuss features of the interaction between a user and digital technology and how this transforms our contemporary experience of space and place. Analyzing this interaction is important for understanding global processes of displacement and creation of what Marc Augé calls non-places and their relation to technology in general. Drawing from Heidegger’s tool-analysis, I show that displacement is a structural element of the usage of absolutely ready-to-hand, access-providing digital devices. My main argument runs as follows: a) the use of digital devices bypasses place directly in our activities; b) because of that, places themselves become more and more obsolete; and c) that leads to changes in how we conceive places and placefulness of technology. Instead, we think of the latter as immaterial, without a location. The immateriality of technology that we experience is reinforcing processes of displacement, as it allows them to continue thriving without being noticed and adequately conceptualized.
10. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Alessandro De Cesaris Digital Metempsychosis? A Critique of the Two-Worlds Model of Immersivity
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The paper proposes the notion of “Two-Worlds Model” (TWM) as a theoretical framework in order to analyse some currents in the contemporary debate on technologically mediated experience. According to this model, technologically mediated experience—especially immersive experience—can be described as a form of “digital metempsychosis”—a feeling of being elsewhere. The paper argues that this model is not new in the history of philosophy, and that it is a very common theoretical and cultural strategy, often used to reduce medial differences—differences in the way of being or of experiencing something—as objectual difference. By analysing some specific topics—the most common accounts of immersive experience, the relation between immersivity and presence, and the notion of “cyberspace”—the paper aims at showing the limits of the TWM, in particular when it is used in order to describe technologically mediated experience.
11. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Francesco Striano Alert! Ideological Interfaces, TikTok, and the Meme Teleology
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The way we human beings approach the world has always been mediated. To be precise, it is mediated by interfaces. The starting point of this paper, therefore, will be to define, in the most general way possible, the interface. I will then focus mostly on the analysis of contemporary digital visual interfaces, and on how they changed the human way of perceiving. In the light of this analysis, I will highlight the “ideology” that spoils current interface design and allows contemporary interfaces to “deceive” us much more than previous technologies did. The central part of the paper will be devoted to illustrating the peculiar way in which digital visual interfaces capture attention and predispose to courses of action. The case study provided by TikTok will help to explain this mechanism. Finally, I will point out the possible negative effects of ideological interfaces and I will review some possible solutions.
12. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Cristiano Vidali Marginal Themes: A Phenomenological Approach to Distraction in Digital Media Users
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Among the research that nowadays deals with the impact of digital technologies on attention, little is concerned with problematizing the theoretical premises about the nature of this cognitive faculty. Hence, even highly credited studies on digital distraction draw their conclusions from underexamined models of attention, despite them not being the only ones available. In our article we intend to focus on this problem, starting by discussing two case studies in the field of cognitive psychology and trying to show their theoretical shortcomings when compared with an alternative model of attention. We will thus explore the account that a contemporary phenomenologist, Paul Sven Arvidson, has provided of attention and distraction. Finally, we will try to question the conclusions of the empirical studies by reframing them within Arvidson’s model, suggesting the importance of sharpening the definition of attention and distraction as preliminary work for investigating how the digital relates to them.
13. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Bradley Warfield Digital Technology and the Problem of Dialogical Discourse in Social Media
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In this paper, I discuss some prominent features of our use of social media and what I think are its harms. My paper has three main parts. In the first part, I use a dialogical framework to argue that much of the discursive activity online is manifested as an ethically impoverished other-directedness and interactivity. In the second part, I identify and discuss several reasons that help explain why so much of the discursive activity on social media is ethically lacking. And in the final part, I mention some of the effects these discursive practices have on us even when offline. Specifically, I suggest that the persistent use of digital communication technologies trains its users to adopt these problematic online discursive attitudes and activities into their experiences offline, making it more difficult for them to engage with themselves and others in more dialogically ethical ways.
14. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Paul Scriven A Social Phenomenology of Non-Player Characters (NPCs) in Videogames
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Non-player characters (NPCs) are a common feature in contemporary videogames, particularly role-playing games (RPGs). Evidence suggests player relationships with these fictional, digital characters can manifest as deeply emotional experiences that can ‘bleed’ off the screen and affect the daily lives of players. However, research in this area is still in its infancy, and as yet has not been given a thorough conceptual treatment. Applying the sociological phenomenology of Alfred Schütz, this paper will examine the structure of the experiences that players have with NPCs, and how these experiences manifest as meaningful social experiences. By a reconceptualization of the player-NPC relationship as a deeply mediated human-human relationship, this paper aims to build a foundation for further phenomenological study into how players engage with fictional characters in immersive videogame worlds.
15. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Hao Wang Algorithmic Colonization of Love: The Ethical Challenges of Dating App Algorithms in the Age of AI
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Love is often seen as the most intimate aspect of our lives, but it is increasingly engineered by a few programmers with Artificial Intelligence (AI). Nowadays, numerous dating platforms are deploying so-called smart algorithms to identify a greater number of potential matches for a user. These AI-enabled matchmaking systems, driven by a rich trove of data, can not only predict what a user might prefer but also deeply shape how people choose their partners. This paper draws on Jürgen Habermas’s “colonization of the lifeworld” thesis to critically explore the insidious influence of delegating romantic decision-making to an algorithm. The love lifeworld is colonized inasmuch as online dating algorithms encroach into our romantic relations to the extent that communicative action within romance is replaced by the technocratic rules of an algorithm.
articles
16. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Ken Daley A Conditional Defense of the Use of Algorithms in Criminal Sentencing
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The presence of predictive AI has steadily expanded into ever-increasing aspects of civil society. I aim to show that despite reasons for believing the use of such systems is currently problematic, these worries give no indication of their future potential. I argue that the absence of moral limits on how we might manipulate automated systems, together with the likelihood that they are more easily manipulated in the relevant ways than humans, suggests that such systems will eventually outstrip the human ability to make accurate judgments and unbiased predictions. I begin with some reasonable justifications for the use of predictive AI. I then discuss two of the most significant reasons for believing the use of such systems is currently problematic before arguing that neither provides sufficient reason against such systems being superior in the future. In fact, there’s reason to believe they can, in principle, be preferable to human decision makers.
17. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Emanuele Clarizio Technical Invention as Biological Function: A Brief Introduction to French Biological Philosophy of Technology
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This article aims to introduce English-speaking readers to a still little-known tradition of French philosophy of technology: the “biological philosophy of technology.” As recognized by Georges Canguilhem, this philosophy was initiated by Henri Bergson, who conceived of technology as an extension of life, which in its evolution, creates natural tools (organs) and artificial ones (technical objects). The paleontologist André Leroi-Gourhan took up this thesis and put it to the test of archaeological data to demonstrate, on the one hand, the biological basis of technical evolution and on the other hand, the importance of technics for human evolution. Finally, Gilbert Simondon extended Leroi-Gourhan’s scientific technology from the study of tools to that of machines, providing yet another fruitful example of the biological philosophy of technology.
18. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Regletto Aldrich Imbong Good Food in a Technological World: Focal Things and Practices Among Lumad Groups in Mindanao
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In this paper, I develop a concept of “good food” by placing in dialogue Albert Borgmann’s notions of focal things and practices with the experiences of two Lumad groups in Mindanao, Philippines, the Manobos and the Blaans. The “availability” of contemporary food, resulting from the “device paradigm,” creates an atrophic existence rooted in social and material disengagement with food production. I argue that the experiences of these two Lumad groups offer rich examples of Borgmann’s focal practices that show how to conceptualize good food in a technological world. This concept can be concretely realized through practices of food and technical democracy which institutionalize the values of the communalist and collectivist experiences of these Lumad groups.
19. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Anthony Longo Digital Reconfigurations of Collective Identity on Twitter: A Narrative Approach
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Digital technology has prompted philosophers to rethink some of the fundamental categories we use to make sense of the world and ourselves. Particularly, the concept of ‘identity’ and its reconfiguration in the digital age has sparked much debate in this regard. While many studies have addressed the impact of the digital on personal and social identities, the concept of ‘collective identity’ has been remarkably absent in such inquiries. In this article, I take the context of social movements as an entry point to discuss the reconfiguration of collective identity in social media environments. I do so by introducing a narrative approach to collective identity. I argue that Twitter’s affordances invite new ways of constructing collective identities and imply a shifting relationship between the individual and the collective.
20. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Bono Po-Jen Shih Engineering as “Technology of Technology” and the Subjugated Technical Practice
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This article calls into question the simplistic identification of modern technology with quantitative efficiency in order to develop three main themes. First, I establish that technology, broadly construed, is the use of knowledge and resources to meet specific human needs. Accordingly, dominant technical practice that favors efficiency and numerical criteria and discriminates against other technologies should more appropriately be called “technology of technology.” Second, I delineate how dominant practice in engineering is an exemplar of technology of technology, when it becomes socially ambitious while remaining technically provincial and bears upon our personal and institutional life. Third, I illustrate what I call the “subjugated technical practice,” which exists under the rule of the dominant technical practice. Recognizing the importance of subjugated technical practices to engineering, I propose the concept of “critical technology of technology,” which is intended to advance technological alternatives and make critique an essential part of our technological world.