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Presentation by Peter-Paul Verbeek with a response from Marijn Sax in the Philosophy and Public Affairs Colloquium | Location: Faculteitskamer/Faculty Room, Oude Turfmarkt 147 (entrance at 141), Department of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam. | Contact: Henri Wijsbeek:

Detail Summary
Date 9 October 2019
Time 16:00 - 18:00

Following the “control dilemma” of Collingridge, influencing technological developments is easy when their implications are not yet manifest, yet once we know these implications, they are difficult to change. This article revisits the Collingridge dilemma in the context of contemporary ethics of technology, when technologies affect both society and the value frameworks we use to evaluate them. Early in its development, we do not know how a technology will affect the value frameworks from which it will be evaluated, while later, when the implications for society and morality are clearer, it is more difficult to guide the development in a desirable direction. Present-day approaches to this dilemma focus on methods to anticipate ethical impacts of a technology (“technomoral scenarios”), being too speculative to be reliable, or on ethically regulating technological developments (“sociotechnical experiments”), discarding anticipation of the future implications. We present the approach of technological mediation as an alternative that focuses on the dynamics of the interaction between technologies and human values. By investigating online discussions about Google Glass, we examine how people articulate new meanings of the value of privacy. This study of “morality in the making” allows developing a modest and empirically informed form of anticipation.

Peter-Paul Verbeek is distinguished professor of Philosophy of Technology and co-director of the DesignLab of the University of Twente. His research focuses on the philosophy of human-technology relations. His publications include Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things and What Things Do: Philosophical Reflections on Technology, Agency, and Design.

His work has received several awards, including a VENI award (2003), VIDI award (2007), VICI Award (2014), and the World Technology Award in Ethics 2016.

Marijn Sax is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Information Law and the Department of Philosophy. He has a background in Political Science (BSc.) and Philosophy (BA., MA., both cum laude) and is mainly interested in questions concerning ethics and technology (e.g., privacy, autonomy, manipulation). Marijn’s research focuses on for-profit health apps, consumer manipulation, and consumer law.