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Skip to 0 minutes and 1 secondWelcome, everybody. We've come to the end of our three-week course, and I thought last week I'd invite you to my lab here at the University of Twente. I really hope you have enjoyed our three-week tour through all kinds of themes in the philosophy of technology and design. We started out by diving into the beginning of the past century as we discussed two interesting German thinkers, Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger, who had a very gloomy, dark view of technology. According to them, technology alienates us from our authentic existence. And the case on cars that drive themselves also challenged our idea of control over technology. Are we still in control or is technology controlling us?

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 secondsBut then we actually started to challenge this theme, this question "Who's in control?" by further investigating the boundary between humans and technologies. Technology is deeply embedded in our lives, but we can identify different types of mediation relations. Social robots, the case that we discussed, provided insights in how we can understand ourselves in relation to these kinds of technology. We should not feel threatened but rather think about how we can take responsibility for how technologies shape our actions and our perceptions. Questioning how there could be ethics in things and how we could actually design this ethics in things was the last part of this course.

Skip to 1 minute and 21 secondsI hope that by following our course you have really gotten enthusiastic about learning more about the philosophy of technology and how this can be used in the practice of design and engineering. And if you're really interested, please check out our Master program in the Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Society at our University of Twente. I hope you can start moralizing things around you in a responsible way as from now. Thank you for joining us. Hope to see you all again sometime. Bye.

End of the course

We have come to the end of this online course of Philosophy of Technology and Design. Thank you very much for your participation!


In the first week, the phenomenological approach of Jaspers and Heidegger gave you insight in how you could understand the relation between humans and technology. They would say that you should not divide the world into two categories: the subject (with freedom and intentions) and the objects (which are dead, mute, mere instruments for humans to realise their intentions). They rather emphasised how the relation effects / changes human existence and the perception of the world. However, their approach has been characterised as “backward thinking” and results in a “diagnoses of alienation”. Last week, you got introduced to Ihde’s different types of relations. Whereas phenomenology attempted to overcome the dichotomy between humans and the world, postphenomenology maintains that the two even constitute, or co-shape, each other. According to postphenomenology reality arises in relations, as do humans who encounter it. The technological mediation theory emphasised that there is more technology in us than we think, we are fundamentally mediated beings: technologies are mediators. The theory of mediation - and the examples from the previous step - shows that any design, whether you want it or not, does have an impact on human behaviour. There is no way to get around an impact. Any technology you design, will have some kind of impact; not only functional, but they help to shape how people live their lives. Designers should therefore not only address the question “are we allowed or not allowed to influence the behaviour of people?” but also “how do we give good shape to this influence?”

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Philosophy of Technology and Design: Shaping the Relations Between Humans and Technologies

University of Twente

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