I attended a lecture based on ‘Hybrid by nature: Social and persuasive technologies’ by Dr Stein, J.A. The lecture is about the social and ethical aspects of human-technology relations. It pinpoints the theory of technological mediation, technology determinism, a technist perspective, social construction and social preparation on how technologies help and develop human actions. Dr Stein, J.A. asked everyone at the start of the lecture, “What is Technology?” The definition in the database search stated:
- The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry
- Machinery and devices developed from scientific knowledge
- The branch of knowledge dealing with engineering or applied sciences
She says, that most people would give a reductive answer like ‘computer’ and ‘machines’. As John Ihde says, technology has some sort of “concrete component.” Though, it is much narrower than the definitions, which make technology “equivalent to any calculative or rational technique.” And is “anthropologically-philosophically broad enough that most forms of material culture will be seen to be related to technology.” (John Idhe, 1993)
However, Langdon Winner a political theorist suggested that artifacts have political qualities. He outlines two way- designs or arrangement of a device or system could provide a convenient means and political technologies, man-made systems in the extent of political relationships such as the atomic bomb for instance, a large technical system that requires military infrastructure. Also, Winner most well-known case that causes disputes, is the ‘Long Island’ by Robert Moses (1930). The designing of the bridge was constructed so low to the ground that public transport couldn’t access or pass under them. He implies that these bridges had political qualities meaning to prevent different social classes such as lower- income from easily accessing. “By politics, I mean arrangements of power and authority in human associations as well as the activities that take place within those arrangements.”
Furthermore, I analysed the movie ‘Her’ (2013) directed by Spike Jonze. It’s about a society where humans and technologies are inevitable. The protagonist is a lonely, depressed writer who develops a relationship with a device, which was designed to help him with his day-to-day life. The device is a computer-programmed technology that is designed to help, communicate and adapt to the human intelligence. He fell in love with the device- a physical object. “Are you in love with someone else?” and he retorted “How many others?” and the device replies or ‘Samantha’ says, “641 others.” The movie brings mixed emotions, for example, the ideal of a society being techno-savvy, with advanced technological developments to be easily accessible to humans and on the other hand the huge impact it brings towards the human, killing face- to- face interaction and loss of sensibility.
Technology plays a crucial role among humans and created strong relationships that is inseparable due to the fact of humans who, “use, design, make and modify the technology.” (John Idhe, 1993)
“How does technological mediation transform us?” There are four different forms:
- Embody: extensions of the body
- Alterity: interactions- technologies as the terminus of experiences
- Hermeneutics: technologies representing ‘reality’ e.g. background meaning the air vent.
Overall, technology is very broad: the social shaping of technology In areas such as economy, political, military and towards attitudes to values, convention and traditions as well as materials and scientific inquiry.
Ihde, D. 1993, ‘Philosophy of Technology: An Introduction,’ Paragon House, New York, pp. 47-66.
Winner, L. 1986, ’Do Artifacts Have Politics,’ The Whale and the Reactor: A Search For Limits in an Age of High Technology, University of Chicago Press, pp. 19-39.
Woolgar, S. & Cooper, G. 1999, ‘Do Artefacts Have Ambivalence? Moses’ Bridges, Winner’s Bridges and Other Urban Legends in S&TS,’ Social Studies of Science, Sage Publication, vol. 29, No. 3., pp. 433-449.
Photography taken by me.