Colloquia 2008-2009

The governance of technological innovation and the role of TA - a conceptual perspective

Stephan Kuhlman

September 18, 2008 Cubicus C138, 15.30 – 17.00


The presentation will commence with the question why 'Technology Governance' is a relevant subject of concern and analysis. It will discuss the potential role of Technology Assessment (TA) in this context, in particular the role of reflexive constructive TA (CTA) as force in Technology Governance, based on (1) the analysis of technology dynamics, (2) the analysis of governance and intervention analysis, and (3) a reflexive understanding of mutual repercussions between technology and governance. Finally the presentation will address the role of science, technology, innovation, and society (STIS) Studies in this context.

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Technology and Everything of Value

Inaugural speech of Prof. Dr. P.A.E. Brey:

October 9, 2008 Amphitheatre, De Vrijhof, Campus University of Twente, 16.00 – 17.30

Philip Brey, appointed by the Executive Board of the University of Twente as full professor in Philosophy of Technology, will hold his inaugural speech in the Amphitheatre of building De Vrijhof.  The title of his speech is:  Technology and Everything of Value.  The speech will be in Dutch, but we expect to provide international visitors with a translation into English.  The speech is open to the public, and you are cordially invited

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Creativity, Depravity and Virtuality – A philosophical introduction to Second Life

Johnny Soraker

November 20, 2008, 15.30 – 17.00 in room B101, Cubicus

Virtual worlds like Second Life and World of Warcraft have received much attention in the media and by philosophers, the refrain usually being that they are homes to all kinds of depravity and that we ought not replace the things traditionally held to be valuable in the actual world with inferior virtual surrogates. There are two closely related points I will make in this lecture. First, I will argue that many of the negative claims regarding the value of virtual entities and environments are based on a number of highly controversial assumptions, and that proper consideration of these issues yields a more nuanced and more constructive view on the impact of virtual worlds on the quality of our lives. Second, as a contrast to media’s focus on the kind of perversion and depravity that results from this creativity, I will highlight how many of the seemingly horrid phenomena in Second Life are expressions of creativity within the furniture and economy of Second Life, rather than expressions of evil.

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"Why waste a good bone?" Exploring the ethics of bone transfers with ethnographic methods

Klaus Hoeyer

January 22, 2009, 15.30 – 17.00, room C238 (CUB)

This paper explores the pursuit of a safe and stable supply of bone for transplantation purposes. Bone transfers have taken place for more than a century and constitutes a well-entrenched and wide-spread technology, much more common than the publicly more renown organ transplants and bone marrow transplants. While ethical attention has been focused on technologies of drama and novelty, I suggest moving into the clinical practices surrounding the mundane transfers and explore what the pursuit of a safe and stable supply produces; what is does to the people involved in its fulfilment. Thereby I come to question how ethical problems are framed and the role of ethics policies in delineating the social life of moral concerns. I take this as an opportunity to pose questions about the relationship between social science and bioethics.

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Brain to Computer Communication: From Epistemology to Ethics

Guglielmo Tamburrini, Università di Napoli Federico II, Italy

February 19, 2009, 15.30 – 17.00, C238 in Cubicus

Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) enable one to control peripheral ICT and robotic devices by processing brain activity on line. The potential usefulness of BCI-enabled brain-to-computer communication, initially demonstrated in rehabilitation medicine, is now being explored in a variety of application domains - including education, training, intensive workflow situations, security, and entertainment. The activities of the Dutch consortium BrainGain, which includes the University of Twente, provide a significant illustration of the wide spectrum of current research efforts into BCI technologies and systems.

This talk examines ethical issues distinctively arising in connection with BCI technologies and systems. These ethical issues span autonomy protection and promotion, moral responsibility and liability, in addition to privacy, distributive justice, personality change and personal identity persistence. Special attention will be paid to more urgent ethical themes, as these emerge from a triage taking into account technological imminence, societal pervasiveness, and ethical novelty.

By focussing on imminent BCI technological developments, one can ground ethical reflection into an epistemological appraisal of realistic models of BCI systems and their interaction with human neural processing. In particular, it will be argued that autonomy and responsibility issues are shaped by distinctive mutual adaptation and shared control problems arising in the BCI interaction environment. Novel personhood issues will be identified and analyzed too. These notably include (a) the “sub-personal” use of human mental processing in human-machine cooperative problem solving which is made possible by the BCI tapping of neural signatures of subliminal perceptual classifications, and (b) the pro-active protection of personal identity which is afforded - in the light of so-called motor theories of thinking - by BCI rehabilitation therapies for severely paralyzed patients.

'You are here': the future of the present in the information age

Diane P. Michelfelder, Professor of Philosophy Macalester College, USA

April 2, 2009, 15.30 – 17.00, C238 in Cubicus

Heidegger’s “untimely” reflection on technology

Robert C. Scharff, University of New Hampshire, USA

May 11, 2009, 15.30 - 17.00

Abstract: Heidegger’s treatment of technology is undoubtedly and fundamentally critical from beginning to end. About the hegemony and increasingly global reach of technoscientific understanding, he is deeply “distressed.” Yet his critics are wrong to conclude that Heidegger’s criticisms are overdrawn—that he suffers from anti-technoscientific bias or terminal pessimism. Objections of this sort typically misread Heidegger’s aims and selectively read his texts. His consideration of technology is, in fact, “untimely” in Nietzsche’s sense. It says what people do not want to hear, precisely when they need to hear it. Hence, the standard objections to Heidegger’s critique are best viewed as the sign of a widespread contemporary tendency—a tendency found even among allegedly post-positivist and phenomenological writers about technoscience—to overestimate the degree to which we have left behind a Comtean, or classical positivist understanding of our age.

Ceptes colloquia are organised for a wide public and are therefore almost always in English.