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81. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 2
Eduardo R. Cruz Creativity, Human and Transhuman: The Childhood Factor
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Transhumanists, like other elites in modernity, place great value on human creativity, and advances in human enhancement and AI form the basis of their proposals for boosting it. However, there are problems with this perspective, due to the unique ways in which humans have evolved, procreated and socialized. I first describe how creativity is related to past evolution and developmental aspects in children, stressing pretend play and the ambivalent character of creativity. Then, I outline proposals for enhancing creativity, be it in embodied humans on the way to a superior species, in AI-related beings (virtual reality, robotics), or even in any degree of mixture in human-machine interaction. In the final section, I describe intrinsic limits to these proposals, such as the absence of a good understanding of human psychology by the proponents of enhancement; the lack of interest in the subjective side of creativity (for one’s own sake); delayed maturation and the ambivalence of pretend play in childhood; and the contrariness typical of new human generations. As for the enhancement of creativity, it is argued that creativity in its social context may be the victim of its own past success. On the other hand, an asymmetry between virtual beings and children is described—the latter can behave in a nasty way, it is part of their growth and creativity, whereas the former are not supposed to cause any harm to human beings. In sum, despite impressive progress in several scientific and technological interventions in creativity, philosophical questions emerge that place many constraints on transhumanist dreams of endless creativity.
82. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 2
Zachary Pirtle, Jay Odenbaugh, Andrew Hamilton, Zoe Szajnfarber Engineering Model Independence: A Strategy to Encourage Independence Among Models
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According to population biologist Richard Levins, every discipline has a “strategy of model building,” which involves implicit assumptions about epistemic goals and the types of abstractions and modeling approaches used. We will offer suggestions about how to model complex systems based upon a strategy focusing on independence in modeling. While there are many possible and desirable modeling strategies, we will contrast a model-independence-focused strategy with the more common modeling strategy of adding increasing levels of detail to a model. Levins calls the latter approach a ‘brute force’ strategy of modeling, which can encounter problems as it attempts to add increasing details and predictive precision. In contrast, a model-independence-focused strategy, which we call a ‘pluralistic strategy,’ draws off of Levins’s use of an assemblage of multiple, simple and—critically—independent models of ecological systems in order to do predictive and explanatory analysis. We use the example of model analysis of levee failure during Hurricane Katrina to show what a pluralistic strategy looks like in engineering. Depending on one’s strategy, one can deliberately engineer the set of available models in order to have more independent and complementary models that will be more likely to be accurate. We offer advice on ways of making models independent as well as a set of epistemic goals for model development that different models can emphasize.
83. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 2
Chrysanthos Voutounos, Andreas Lanitis A Cultural Semiotic Aesthetic Approach for a Virtual Heritage Project: Part B—Evaluation and Design for Virtual Heritage and Theoretical Extensions
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Continuing from Part A (2016), in which we discuss the semiotic foundation for designing a virtual museum of Byzantine art, Part B presents an applied methodology for the representation of cultural artifacts through virtual technologies and semiotic techniques. We discuss how our semiotic model, case study semiosphere, contributes to design and evaluation research of such unique art-form representation and why the approach contributes as a whole to the field of Virtual Heritage (VH). Theorizing further the design implications integrating the overall approach including the evaluation experiment of three VH applications with the participation of young users and its semiotic analysis, we formulate design guidelines that can be applied also to other types of cultural heritage and art.
84. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 2
Martin Sand How the Future Has a Grip on Us
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Being faced with bold statements about the technological future, the wickedness of technological systems and our frequent cluelessness when aiming at predicting the course of such systems, scholars from philosophy of technology and Technology Assessment (TA) have given up believing that any method can enhance our knowledge about the future. Hence, hermeneutic TA, forensics of wishing and other approaches shift their focus on the present of such futures. While these approaches are meaningful in their own right, they basically rest on a too sceptical foundation. In my article I will present some objections to these approaches. It is clearly true as has been pointed out that knowledge about the future cannot be tested to correspond with reality, since the future does not yet exist. However, it is debatable whether such a criterion is generally required for robust knowledge. Giving that we cannot observe the past but claim to know a lot about, I will argue that a commitment to the correspondence theory of truth is too strong a requirement for robust knowledge about the future. Theory building departs by inferring from present observations into both directions, future and past. To show this, some examples that illustrate how the future has a lock on us will be discussed. Furthermore, it will be outlined that the often cited notion of future’s openness also rests on such inferential knowledge, which indicates incoherence in the skeptics’ approach. These arguments build the basis for a modest realism about the future.
book reviews
85. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 2
Richard S. Lewis Wisdom Practices for Living with Technology: Review of The Ethics of Ordinary Technology, by Michel Puech
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86. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Glenn M. Trujillo, Jr. From Taquería to Medical School: Juan Carlos, Aristotle, Cognitive Enhancements, and a Good Life
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This paper begins with a vignette of Juan Carlos, an immigrant to America who works to support his family, attends classes at a community college, and cares for his ill daughter. It argues that an Aristotelian virtue ethicist could condone a safe, legal, and virtuous use of cognitive enhancements in Juan Carlos’s case. The argument is that if an enhancement can lead him closer to eudaimonia (i.e., flourishing, or a good life), then it is morally permissible to use it. The paper closes by demonstrating how common objections to cognitive enhancement fail to undermine Juan Carlos’s justifiable use of the technology. The particularities of his case make it morally acceptable for him to use enhancements in certain situations. The paper, thus, constructs a limited, positive case for the virtuous use of pharmaceutical cognitive enhancements.
87. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Mauricio Villaseñor Terán Philosophical Explorations for a Concept of Emerging Technologies
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The term “emerging technologies” is greatly used nowadays in scientific publications, but its conceptual competence is not clear. The term remains poorly studied, especially from a philosophical stance. The following text aims to bring clarity and discussion about the term. First, I critique previous usages of the term. Thereafter, I conduct a lexico-hermeneutical analysis by questioning what it means for technologies to be qualified as “emerging.” Finally, I contrast the term with the akin terms of invention, innovation, and new and disruptive technologies. From the analysis, I defend the term has a conceptual value expressed through its leverage (both present and to come), ascendance, uncertainty, and materiality. “Emerging technologies” is becoming dominant because it overcomes the static and mythical term of “invention,” incorporating the social process meant by innovation; in other words, “emerging technologies” emphasizes the dynamic behaviour of technological development, while pointing towards concrete artefacts and procedures.
88. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Esther Keymolen Trust in the Networked Era: When Phones Become Hotel Keys
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This article is an update of Latour’s well-known case of the unreturned hotel key. In recent years, the hotel key has been replaced by a keycard and more recently by a digital key that can be downloaded on a smartphone. This article analyses how—with every step in the innovation process—the trust relation of hotel owner and hotel guest is mediated in a distinct way. The networked ontology of the digital key enables the collection of personal information from which the hotel can tailor its services to the wishes of the hotel guests. While this may be in the interest of the guest, it, however, also makes the guest vulnerable as she has only limited control over the data and comes to depend on the conduct of the hotel. The digital key is not merely a key to open a hotel door; it also unlocks the personal information of the guest.
89. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Joshua M. Penrod Braindance: A Preliminary Exploration of Technological Knowledge and Neuromarketing
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Neuromarketing is the use of imaging technology to ascertain information about brain states during the viewing of advertising and products. It is an area of increasing interest for the purposes of both neuroscience brain research and marketing. At present, there remains significant disagreement about value of knowledge claims made by neuromarketing and its efficacy in both understanding and predicting consumer behavior. This paper outlines an approach to epistemic conception of neuromarketing by applying and broadening the categories of technological knowledge produced by Walter Vincenti and Marc de Vries. Categories of technological knowledge capture several important elements of epistemology and knowledge generation, though more work in areas such as business judgment and knowledge translation remains to be done. The framework provided herein presents new epistemological considerations for the analysis of marketing practice related consumer behavior and brain activity.
90. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Alberto Romele Imaginative Machines
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In philosophy of emerging media, several scholars have insisted on the fact that the “new” of new technologies does not have much to do with communication, but rather with the exponential growth of recording. In this paper, instead, the thesis advanced is that digital technologies do not concern memory, but imagination, and more precisely, what philosophers from Kant onwards have called productive imagination. In this paper, however, the main reference will not be Kant, but Paul Ricoeur, who explicitly refers to the Kantian productive imagination in his works, but also offered an externalized, semioticized, and historicized interpretation of it. The article is developed in three steps. In the first section, it deals with Ricoeur’s theory of narrative, based on the notions of mimesis and mythos. In the second section, it is first argued that human imagination is always-already extended. Second, it will be shown how mimesis and mythos are precisely the way software works. In the third section, the specificity of big data is introduced. Big data is the promise of giving our actions and existences a meaning that we are incapable of perceiving, for lack of sensibility (i.e., data) and understanding (i.e., algorithms). Scholars have used the Foucauldian concepts of panopticon and confession for describing the human condition in the digital age. In the conclusion, it is argued that big data makes any form of disclosure unnecessary. Big data is an ensemble of technological artifacts, methods, techniques, practices, institutions, and forms of knowledge aiming at taking over the way someone narratively accounts for himself or herself before the others. Hence, another Foucauldian notion is representative of this age: the parrhesia, to speak candidly, and to take a risk in speaking the truth, insofar as such a possibility is anesthetized.
book reviews
91. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Judith Lochhead Sound and Techné: Thinking the Future of Acoustic Technics
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92. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Samantha Fried Vallor’s Virtue Ethics are Creative, Intrepid, and Profoundly Feminist: Review of Technology and the Virtues, by Shannon Vallor
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93. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2/3
Pieter Lemmens, Vincent Blok, Jochem Zwier Toward a Terrestrial Turn in Philosophy of Technology
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94. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2/3
Vincent Blok Earthing Technology: Toward an Eco-centric Concept of Biomimetic Technologies in the Anthropocene
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In this article, we reflect on the conditions under which new technologies emerge in the Anthropocene and raise the question of how to conceptualize sustainable technologies therein. To this end, we explore an eco-centric approach to technology development, called biomimicry. We discuss opposing views on biomimetic technologies, ranging from a still anthropocentric orientation focusing on human management and control of Earth’s life-support systems, to a real eco-centric concept of nature, found in the responsive conativity of nature. This concept provides the ontological and the epistemological condition for an eco-centric concept of biomimetic technologies in the Anthropocene. We distinguish five principles for this concept that can guide future technological developments.
95. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2/3
Massimiliano Simons The Parliament of Things and the Anthropocene: How to Listen to ‘Quasi-Objects’
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Among the contemporary philosophers using the concept of the Anthropocene, Bruno Latour and Isabelle Stengers are prominent examples. The way they use this concept, however, diverts from the most common understanding of the Anthropocene. In fact, their use of this notion is a continuation of their earlier work around the concept of a ‘parliament of things.’ Although mainly seen as a sociology or philosophy of science, their work can be read as philosophy of technology as well. Similar to Latour’s claim that science is Janus-headed, technology has two faces. Faced with the Anthropocene, we need to shift from technologies of control to technologies of negotiations, i.e., a parliament of things. What, however, does a ‘parliament of things’ mean? This paper wants to clarify what is conceptually at stake by framing Latour’s work within the philosophy of Michel Serres and Isabelle Stengers. Their philosophy implies a ‘postlinguistic turn,’ where one can ‘let things speak in their own name,’ without claiming knowledge of the thing in itself. The distinction between object and subject is abolished to go back to the world of ‘quasi-objects’ (Serres). Based on the philosophy of science of Latour and Stengers the possibility for a politics of quasi-objects or a ‘cosmopolitics’ (Stengers) is opened. It is in this framework that their use of the notion of the Anthropocene must be understood and a different view of technology can be conceptualized.
96. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2/3
Hub Zwart From the Nadir of Negativity towards the Cusp of Reconciliation: A Dialectical (Hegelian-Teilhardian) Assessment of the Anthropocenic Challenge
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This contribution addresses the anthropocenic challenge from a dialectical perspective, combining a diagnostics of the present with a prognostic of the emerging future. It builds on the oeuvres of two prominent dialectical thinkers, namely Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955). Hegel himself was a pre-anthropocenic thinker who did not yet thematise the anthropocenic challenge as such, but whose work allows us to emphasise the unprecedented newness of the current crisis. I will especially focus on his views on Earth as a planetary process, emphasising that (in the current situation) the “spirit” of technoscience is basically monitoring the impacts of its own activities on geochemistry and evolution. Subsequently, I will turn attention to Teilhard de Chardin, a palaeontologist and philosopher rightfully acknowledged as one of the first thinkers of the Anthropocene whose oeuvre provides a mediating middle term between Hegel’s conceptual groundwork and the anthropocenic present. Notably, I will discuss his views on self-directed evolution, on the on-going absorption of the biosphere by the noosphere, and on emerging options for “sublating” the current crisis into a synthetic convergence towards (what Teilhard refers to as) the Omega point. I will conclude that (a), after disclosing the biomolecular essence of life, biotechnology must now take a radical biomimetic turn (a shift from domesticating nature to the domestication of domestication, i.e., of technology); that (b) reflection itself must become distributed and collective; and (c), that the anthropocenic crisis must be sublated into the noocene.
97. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2/3
Byron Williston The Question Concerning Geo-Engineering
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The Anthropocene, as we encounter it now, is the age in which we can no longer avoid postnaturalism, that is, a view of the ‘environment’ as largely ‘built.’ This means that we exist in a highly technologically mediated relationship to the rest of the earth system. But because the Anthropocene has barely emerged this time is best thought of as a transition phase between two epochs, i.e., it is ‘the end-Holocene.’ The end-Holocene is essentially a period of ecological crisis, the most salient manifestation of which is anthropogenic climate change. Given our political inertia, some have suggested that we should we respond to the climate crisis through technological manipulation of the global climate: geoengineering. The proposal raises many questions. The one I am interested in here is whether or not geoengineering represents an objectionable species-level narcissism. Will deployment of these technologies effectively cut us off from contact with anything non-human? This is what I’m calling ‘the question concerning geoengineering.’ I show how Heidegger’s philosophy of technology, especially his concept of ‘enframing,’ can help us think about the issue with the seriousness it demands.
98. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2/3
Jochem Zwier, Vincent Blok Saving Earth: Encountering Heidegger’s Philosophy of Technology in the Anthropocene
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In this paper, we argue that the Anthropocene is relevant for philosophy of technology because it makes us sensitive to the ontological dimension of contemporary technology. In §1, we show how the Anthropocene has ontological status insofar as the Anthropocenic world appears as managerial resource to us as managers of our planetary oikos. Next, we confront this interpretation of the Anthropocene with Heidegger’s notion of “Enframing” to suggest that the former offers a concrete experience of Heidegger’s abstract, notoriously difficult, and allegedly totalitarian concept (§2). In consequence, technology in the Anthropocene cannot be limited to the ontic domain of artefacts, but must be acknowledged to concern the whole of Being. This also indicates how the Anthropocene has a technical origin in an ontological sense, which is taken to imply that the issue of human responsibility must be primarily understood in terms of responsivity. In the final section (§3), we show how the Anthropocene is ambiguous insofar as it both accords and discords with what Heidegger calls the “danger” of technology. In light of this ambiguity, the Earth gains ontic-ontological status, and we therefore argue that Heidegger’s unidirectional consideration concerning the relation between being and beings must be reoriented. We conclude that the Anthropocene entails that Heidegger’s consideration of the “saving power” of technology as well as the comportment of “releasement” must become Earthbound, thereby introducing us to a saving Earth.
99. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2/3
Agostino Cera The Technocene or Technology as (Neo)Environment
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Abstract: While putting forward the proposal of a “philosophy of technology in the nominative case,” grounded on the concept of Neoenvironmentality, this paper intends to argue that the best definition of our current age is not “Anthropocene.” Rather, it is “Technocene,” since technology represents here and now the real “subject of history” and of (a de-natured) nature, i.e. the (neo)environment where man has to live.This proposal culminates in a new definition of man’s humanity and of technology. Switching from natura hominis to conditio humana, the peculiarity of man can be defined on the basis of an anthropic perimeter, the core of which consists of man’s worldhood: man is that being that has a world (Welt), while animal has a mere environment (Umwelt). Both man’s worldhood and animal’s environmentality are derived from a pathic premise, namely the fundamental moods (Grundstimmungen) that refer them to their respective findingness (Befindlichkeit).From this anthropological premise, technology emerges as the oikos of contemporary humanity. Technology becomes the current form of the world – and so gives birth to a Technocene – insofar as it introduces in any human context its ratio operandi and so assimilates man to an animal condition, i.e. an environmental one. Technocene corresponds on the one side to the emergence of technology as (Neo)environment and on the other to the feralization of man. The spirit of Technocene turns out to be the complete redefinition of the anthropic perimeter.While providing a non-ideological characterization of the current age, this paper proposes the strategy of an ‘anthropological conservatism,’ that is to say a pathic desertion understood as a possible (pre)condition for the beginning of an authentic Anthropocene, i.e. the age of an-at-last-entirely-human-man.
100. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2/3
Langdon Winner Rebranding the Anthropocene: A Rectification of Names
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Recent attempts to rename the geological epoch in which we live, now called the “Holocene,” have produced a number of impressive suggestions. Among these the leading contender at present is the “Anthropocene.” Despite its possible advantages, there are a number of reasons why this term is ultimately misleading and unhelpful in both philosophical and policy deliberations. Especially off-putting is the word’s tendency to identify the human species as a whole as the culprit in controversial changes in Earth’s biosphere whose proximate sources can be more accurately identified. The new candidate term echoes discussions of “Man and . . .” in countless twentieth-century publications, an outmoded conceit rightly overcome in more recent writings on science, technology and society.