Colloquia 2009-2010

De grens van mens over techniek, ethiek en de menselijke natuur

Inaugural speech Prof. Dr. ir. P.P.C.C. Verbeek

October 15, 2009. Grote Kerk, Oude Markt 30, Enschede

We maken vaak een harde scheiding tussen mens en techniek. Onterecht, volgens Verbeek. Zo’n harde scheiding is niet te maken. Mensen zijn van nature al technologische wezens. Bovendien raken mens en techniek steeds meer met elkaar verweven. Door het naar elkaar toe groeien van nanotechnologie, biotechnologie, informatietechnologie cognitie- en neurowetenschap ontstaan er steeds meer mogelijkheden om technologisch in te grijpen in de mens. Daardoor hebben we nieuwe kaders nodig om de mens te begrijpen, en om ethische vragen te stellen.

From Plato to post-genomics: Promises and disappointments of the will to know

Hub Zwart

October 19, 2009, location: Cubicus C238 15.30-17.00

Global Convergences, political futures? Self, community, and ethics in digital mediatized worlds

Charles Ess

November 12, 2009, location: Cubicus C238 15.30-17.00

Drawing from the fields of both communication theory and information ethics, I will discuss three questions:

1. How do emerging information technologies / new / digital media interact with our sense of self/selves – i.e., who we are (who we believe we are) as human beings?

2. What sort of Good Life- including what sort of polity/polities - might be possible for these (changing) selves (individually, collectively, and globally)?

3. What sorts of choices and decisions will we need to make regarding the sort of self/selves we will become through our interactions with new media, in order to realize the better possible futures available to these sorts of selves?

The needs of innovation
Harro van Lente

Februari 18, 2010, Location Meeting Room Chalet 15.30-17.00

According to the old wisdom, need is the mother of invention. When an innovation is successful, the argument goes, there must have been a need for this, albeit 'latent'. On the other hand, it is also a well-known that technological change can incite new needs. The sociology of expectations studies how researchers, technologists and firms decide what options to take and routes to follow on the basis of circulating and shared expectations. In this lecture I will discuss the relationship between the dynamics of expectations and the dynamics of needs. The mechanism in which promises are converted into requirements appears to be accompanied by a mechanism in which needs as outcome are converted into needs as cause. This raises questions about how to decide about future needs: who should be the mother of need?

Tjard de Cock Buning

March 19, 2010, Location tba

Ageing in Technological Democracies

Tiago Moreira, Durham University

March 25, 13.30 – 15.00, Cubicus C232A


ABSTRACT: Gerontology has until recently been mainly concerned with the structural, cultural and personal contexts through which age identities and practices are organised. This has been enriched by current debates about the extent to which these identities are constrains on individuals or represent 'reflexive opportunities' of re-invention, and by the increased recognition that knowledge of ageing and biotechnology play a key role in these social and political processes. In this paper, I explore the growing importance of processes of collective negotiation about the aims, methods and results of research on ageing. The paper draws on two case studies: a) the public controversy about access to dementia drugs on the English NHS (2005-2008) and b) processes of ‘public engagement’ about ageing research in the UK and US during the last 5 years. Drawing on the differences between these cases, the paper suggests that the democratisation of ‘ageing research’ is heavily dependent on two dimensions: how technological innovation in each domain is linked to particular repertoires of evaluation, and to the devices used to deploy such repertoires; how the linkage between technological innovation and changes in the rights and obligations of different age strata within contemporary societies is produced in these different contexts.

Taking care of one’s brain: how manipulating the brain changes people’s selves

Jonna Brenninkmeijer University of Groningen

April 22, 15.30 – 17.00, Cubicus C232A

Self-help therapies for brain enhancement are becoming ever more popular. Next to brain books, foods and games, there are also technical devices for brain stimulation. Examples are: light-and-sound machines to switch your brain state into relaxation or concentration, brainwaves training to cure Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), neurofeedback devices to solve sleeping problems, and electric/magnetic stimulation to influence neuron firing and overcome depressions and anxieties.

Working on your self with a brain device can be seen as a contemporary form of Michel Foucault’s ‘technologies of the self’. Foucault described how since antiquity people had used techniques such as reading manuscripts, listening to teachers, or saying prayers to ‘act on their selves’ and control their own thoughts and behaviours. Different techniques, Foucault stated, are based on different precepts and constitute different selves. I follow Foucault by stating that using a brain device for self-improvement indeed constitutes a new self.

Drawing on interviews with users of brain devices and observations of the practices in brain clinics, I analyse how a new self takes shape in the use of brain devices; not a monistic (neuroscientific) self, but a ‘layered’ self of all kinds of entities that exchange and control each other continuously.

Jonna Brenninkmeijer studied Theory and History of Psychology at the University of Groningen. After graduation, she worked as a science journalist before undertaking her present research as a PhD candidate within the same section, under the supervision of Dr M. Derksen and Professor T. Dehue.

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