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1. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 28 > Issue: 1
Luca M. Possati Orcid-ID

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This paper intends to address social robotics from the Actor-network theory (ANT) perspective. Starting from the critique of Seibt’s approach and the distinction between anthropomorphing and sociomorphing, the paper proposes a new methodological approach based on ANT and negotiation concepts. This approach allows us to: a) assume a more symmetrical ontology in which robots are considered as social agents, like humans; b) consider all the interactional elements as of equal importance; and c) overcome the dualistic limit that is often imposed on social robotics studies, i.e., the tendency to consider only the one-to-one relationship, one man-one robot, inside the laboratory. Anthropomorphing and sociomorphing are the results of a negotiation process that cannot be reduced to a series of degrees of simulation, but must be understood as a complex interactional process between many agents and material mediations.
2. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 28 > Issue: 1
Muriel Leuenberger Orcid-ID

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Novel and emerging technologies can provide users with new kinds and unprecedented amounts of information about themselves, such as autobiographical information, neurodata, health information, or characteristics inferred from online behavior. Technology that provides extensive personal information (PI technology) can impact who we understand ourselves to be, how we constitute ourselves, and indeed who we are. This paper analyzes how PI technology’s external, quantified perspective on us affects identity based on a narrative identity theory. Disclosing the intimate relationship between PI technology and identity sheds light on a whole new range of ethical issues that have received insufficient attention so far. Personal information provided by technology is not just information that belongs to individuals but also changes them.
3. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 28 > Issue: 1
Oliver Alexander Tafdrup Orcid-ID

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The concept of mediation plays a central part in several positions of contemporary philosophy of technology. Especially Don Ihde and Peter-Paul Verbeek have served to establish mediation as one of the core concepts in the postphenomenologically rooted philosophical analysis of human-technology-world relations. While meditation theory provides many important conceptual and empirical contributions to our knowledge of how material artefacts shape our embodied being in the world, too little attention has arguably been given to the development of concepts that enable a philosophical analysis of the symbolic aspect of technological artefacts. This paper aims to develop the notion of ‘symbolic mediation’ by drawing on inspiration from the tradition of philosophical anthropology, more specifically, the work of Ernst Cassirer and his Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (PSF). Drawing on empirical examples of human-robot interactions (HRI), I coin two types of symbolic mediation: 1) mythic mediation and 2) aesthetic mediation.
4. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 28 > Issue: 1
Cristian C. Vélez Orcid-ID

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Currently, humanity is experiencing an explosive growth in technological objects designed to improve the body and mind. The main objective of this article is to review two recent classificatory and explanatory systems to cognitive enhancement cybernetic technologies, including both wearable and implantable artifacts that reorganize human embodiment or extend the mind. I argue that an outdated model of the cognitive sciences serves as the basis for these revised systems and taxonomies. Taking an embodied approach to the cognitive sciences, I propose an alternative focus to classify cognitive enhancement cybernetic technologies. Specifically, by adopting a non-orthodox enactive approach to embodied cognition, I propose a new classificatory system that redefines the notion of the cybernetically enhanced human, restricting it to a purely cognitive context. Finally, I evaluate some philosophical implications of my system.
5. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 28 > Issue: 1
Susan B. Levin

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According to transhumanists who urge the radical enhancement of human beings, humanity’s top priority should be engineering “posthumans,” whose features would include agelessness. Increasingly, transhumanism is critiqued on foundational grounds rather than based largely on anticipated results of its implementation, such as rising social inequality. This expansion is crucial but insufficient because, despite its radical aim, transhumanism reflects beliefs and attitudes that are evident in the broader culture. With a focus on the yearning to eliminate aging, I consider four of these: a disproportionate reliance on science and technology to address major human challenges; the conceptualization of human beings in terms of binaries like “young-old”; a repudiation of vulnerability; and intensifying perfectionism. Illuminating these interlocked commitments both deepens an existing critique of transhumanism and draws our attention to deleterious cultural views that must be vigorously contested if our commitment to human flourishing is to be deep and unwavering.

book review

6. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 28 > Issue: 1
Alberto Romele

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7. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 3
Vitaly Pronskikh Orcid-ID

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In this paper, we addressed the problem of choosing a nuclear fuel cycle. Ethical problems related to the choice of a nuclear fuel cycle, such as the depletion of natural uranium reserves, the accumulation of nuclear waste, and the connection with the problems of nonidentity and distributive justice are considered. We examined cultural differences in attitudes toward nuclear safety and the associated ambiguities in the choice of a nuclear fuel cycle. We suggested that the reduction in consumption of natural uranium does not seem to be a feasible way of reducing nuclear waste because of the nonidentity problem.
8. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 3
Sanne Lisborg, Orcid-ID Oliver Tafdrup Orcid-ID

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The increasing use of virtual laboratories in education raises new philosophical—and perhaps especially phenomenological—questions related to how this type of technological mediation affects the user’s sense of situated embodied being: sensory perception. The empirical basis of this phenomenological inquiry is a case study conducted in a Danish school setting. This allows us to compare analog laboratory work with virtual. Inspired by Maurice Merleau-Ponty, we describe how pupils’ bodily and multisensory interactions with laboratory tools differ across physical and virtual settings. Virtual laboratories are complex, sociotechnical, often opaque practices that affect the pupils’ sense of embodiment, thus prompting the need for in situ development of hermeneutical strategies for bridging the gap between the simulated laboratory and the physical world. In the final section, we discuss how these strategies can be considered posthuman learning processes.
9. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 3
Ana Cuevas-Badallo Orcid-ID

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This paper suggests revising the notion of in consideration of the naturalist position. I analyze whether the characterizations of technical artifacts proposed by the philosophy of technology can be extended to include the technical creations of other organisms. This will be done using the theories of “niche construction” and “organisms as ecosystem engineers.” Those theories would allow us to understand human technical creations within what human beings do naturally and in gradual continuity with what other species do.
10. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 3
Mark Thomas Young Orcid-ID

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It is common to view the technologies that surround us as either tools or machines. This distinction is often understood to reflect a difference between kinds of technology: those which operate by human agency, and those which operate by their own, technological form of performative agency. This paper aims to explore how common arguments for the performative agency of machines ultimately fail to establish the claim that anything other than humans are capable of performing tasks. In light of such problems, I will propose an alternative conception which understands machines to be distinguished by the way in which the human agency on which they depend is concealed. After examining reasons why we should consider this concealment to represent a social rather than technological phenomenon, this paper concludes by exploring implications this view holds for the way in which the ethics of automation is approached in the philosophy of technology.
11. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 3
Tom Sorell Orcid-ID

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Audio and video footage produced with the help of AI can show politicians doing discreditable things that they have not actually done. This is deepfaked material. Deepfakes are sometimes claimed to have special powers to harm the people depicted and their audiences—powers that more traditional forms of faked imagery and sound footage lack. According to some philosophers, deepfakes are particularly “believable,” and widely available technology will soon make deepfakes proliferate. I first give reasons why deepfake technology is not particularly well suited to producing “believable” political misinformation in a sense to be defined. Next, I challenge claims from Don Fallis and Regina Rini about the consequences of the wide availability of deepfakes. My argument is not that deepfakes are harmless, but that their power to do major harm is highly conditional in liberal party political environments that contain sophisticated mass-media.
12. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 3
Anette Forss Orcid-ID

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The incorporation of digital technologies in higher education has become a research topic actualized by the Covid-19 pandemic, including the re-thinking of theories and ontological assumptions supporting the role of these technologies in blended learning. Using nursing education in urban Sweden as an example, I present a reflexive and postphenomenological analysis of critical incidents during the use of an online assessment software for high stakes exams during the Covid-19 outbreak. Based on the analysis, I argue that the rapid digitalization prompted by the Covid-19 outbreak illuminates the importance of articulating digital technologies in higher education as human-technology relations in light of the philosophy of technology, notably postphenomenology. I conclude that postphenomenology can be helpful to clarify the non-neutrality and multistability of digital technologies and to articulate nuances of the human-technology relation, in blended learning.

book review

13. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 3
Alexei Grinbaum Orcid-ID

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14. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Ian Werkheiser, Michael Butler

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15. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Maciej Bednarski Orcid-ID

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In this paper, I discuss features of the interaction between a user and digital technology and how this transforms our contemporary experience of space and place. Analyzing this interaction is important for understanding global processes of displacement and creation of what Marc Augé calls non-places and their relation to technology in general. Drawing from Heidegger’s tool-analysis, I show that displacement is a structural element of the usage of absolutely ready-to-hand, access-providing digital devices. My main argument runs as follows: a) the use of digital devices bypasses place directly in our activities; b) because of that, places themselves become more and more obsolete; and c) that leads to changes in how we conceive places and placefulness of technology. Instead, we think of the latter as immaterial, without a location. The immateriality of technology that we experience is reinforcing processes of displacement, as it allows them to continue thriving without being noticed and adequately conceptualized.

16. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Alessandro De Cesaris Orcid-ID

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The paper proposes the notion of “Two-Worlds Model” (TWM) as a theoretical framework in order to analyse some currents in the contemporary debate on technologically mediated experience. According to this model, technologically mediated experience—especially immersive experience—can be described as a form of “digital metempsychosis”—a feeling of being elsewhere. The paper argues that this model is not new in the history of philosophy, and that it is a very common theoretical and cultural strategy, often used to reduce medial differences—differences in the way of being or of experiencing something—as objectual difference. By analysing some specific topics—the most common accounts of immersive experience, the relation between immersivity and presence, and the notion of “cyberspace”—the paper aims at showing the limits of the TWM, in particular when it is used in order to describe technologically mediated experience.

17. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Francesco Striano Orcid-ID

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The way we human beings approach the world has always been mediated. To be precise, it is mediated by interfaces. The starting point of this paper, therefore, will be to define, in the most general way possible, the interface. I will then focus mostly on the analysis of contemporary digital visual interfaces, and on how they changed the human way of perceiving. In the light of this analysis, I will highlight the “ideology” that spoils current interface design and allows contemporary interfaces to “deceive” us much more than previous technologies did. The central part of the paper will be devoted to illustrating the peculiar way in which digital visual interfaces capture attention and predispose to courses of action. The case study provided by TikTok will help to explain this mechanism. Finally, I will point out the possible negative effects of ideological interfaces and I will review some possible solutions.

18. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Cristiano Vidali Orcid-ID

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Among the research that nowadays deals with the impact of digital technologies on attention, little is concerned with problematizing the theoretical premises about the nature of this cognitive faculty. Hence, even highly credited studies on digital distraction draw their conclusions from underexamined models of attention, despite them not being the only ones available. In our article we intend to focus on this problem, starting by discussing two case studies in the field of cognitive psychology and trying to show their theoretical shortcomings when compared with an alternative model of attention. We will thus explore the account that a contemporary phenomenologist, Paul Sven Arvidson, has provided of attention and distraction. Finally, we will try to question the conclusions of the empirical studies by reframing them within Arvidson’s model, suggesting the importance of sharpening the definition of attention and distraction as preliminary work for investigating how the digital relates to them.

19. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Bradley Warfield Orcid-ID

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In this paper, I discuss some prominent features of our use of social media and what I think are its harms. My paper has three main parts. In the first part, I use a dialogical framework to argue that much of the discursive activity online is manifested as an ethically impoverished other-directedness and interactivity. In the second part, I identify and discuss several reasons that help explain why so much of the discursive activity on social media is ethically lacking. And in the final part, I mention some of the effects these discursive practices have on us even when offline. Specifically, I suggest that the persistent use of digital communication technologies trains its users to adopt these problematic online discursive attitudes and activities into their experiences offline, making it more difficult for them to engage with themselves and others in more dialogically ethical ways.

20. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 27 > Issue: 2
Paul Scriven Orcid-ID

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Non-player characters (NPCs) are a common feature in contemporary videogames, particularly role-playing games (RPGs). Evidence suggests player relationships with these fictional, digital characters can manifest as deeply emotional experiences that can ‘bleed’ off the screen and affect the daily lives of players. However, research in this area is still in its infancy, and as yet has not been given a thorough conceptual treatment. Applying the sociological phenomenology of Alfred Schütz, this paper will examine the structure of the experiences that players have with NPCs, and how these experiences manifest as meaningful social experiences. By a reconceptualization of the player-NPC relationship as a deeply mediated human-human relationship, this paper aims to build a foundation for further phenomenological study into how players engage with fictional characters in immersive videogame worlds.