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End of the course

Thank you for participating, UTwente programme PSTS
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Hello everybody. We’ve come to the end of our four week course, and I thought this last week I’d invite you to the DesignLab here at the University of Twente, into my little office that I have there. I really hope that you have enjoyed our four week tour through all kinds of themes in the philosophy of technology and design. We started out by diving into the past century through the work of two influential German thinkers, Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger, who had actually quite a a gloomy view of technology as alienating us from authentic existence. We also saw the case of self-driving cars, which raised the question of control.
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Are we still in control of technology or is technology actually controlling us? The second week, we started to problematize these older positions, these older views that typically leaned on either ‘instrumentalism’ or ‘determinism’. The question ‘Who’s in control?’ needed to be unpacked further by investigating the boundaries between humans and technologies. Technologies are deeply embedded in our social lives, and the concept of mediation proved to be helpful there. There are all kinds of ways in which technologies organize human behavior, human practices, human perceptions, human interpretations. And we also investigated social robots as one of the cases that gave us insights in how to understand ourselves in relation to these new kinds of technologies.
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We should not feel threatened only by technologies, but we could also think about how we can take responsibility for how technologies shape our actions and our perceptions. And that brought us to the question of ethics and design. We asked ourselves how there could be ethics in things, how we can conceive of that, and how we could actually design ethics into things. And that’s culminated in the fourth week on Artificial Intelligence. Highly influential technology, a technology of the fourth industrial revolution, of which we saw that it could even take us into society 5.0, a new type of society, the digital society. And around AI a lot of ethical frameworks appeared to have come into being.
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And also, it has given us the opportunity to introduce you to the approach of ‘guidance ethics’. A very practical approach which you can download also for free from our website. And we hope that this will be useful for you. Somehow to raise ethical questions in your own field. So we hope that by following our course, you have really gotten enthusiastic about the philosophy and ethics of technology and design, and also about learning more about the philosophy of technology and how you can use it in the practices of design and engineering. If you’re really interested, please check out our Master program in the Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society at the University of Twente.
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And for everyone, I really hope that this course has helped you to read the technologies around you in new ways and maybe also to start moralizing the things around you in a responsible way, somehow. So thank you so much for joining us. We hope to see you all again, sometime. Bye bye.

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

Summary

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

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