Technology shapes how power is exercised in society, and thereby also shapes how the present changes into the future. Technological innovation is all around us, and new possibilities in fields like artificial intelligence, genome-editing and geoengineering not only reallocate power, but might transform human life itself considerably, to the point of modifying the essence of what it is to be human. While ethical considerations enter prominently, the philosophy of technology is broader than its ethics. It aims to interpret and critically assess the role of technology for human life and guide us to a more thoughtful integration of technology in our individual lives and in public decision making. This course aims to teach you to do just that, starting with basic stances and key figures in the field and then progressing towards a number of challenges around specific types of technology as they arise for the 21st century. At times it is tech optimism that dominates these debates (sometimes even techno-boosterism that sees technology as key to heaven on earth), at other times it is more low-spirited attitudes from romantic uneasiness to doom-and-gloom Luddism and technology-bashing. A closer look at these attitudes – alongside reflection on how technology and power are intertwined -- will help generate a more skeptical attitude towards all of them and contribute to more level-headed debates, which is badly needed.
Also offered by the Graduate School of Design as DES 3479.