Philosophy of Technology: From Marx and Heidegger to AI, Genome Editing, and Geoengineering (HKS)

Technology shapes how power is exercised in society, and thereby also changes how the present changes into the future. Technological innovation is all around us, and new possibilities in fields like artificial intelligence, genome-editing and geoengineering not only reallocate power, but might transform human life considerably, to the point of modifying the essence of what it is to be human. Basic attitudes towards technology vary considerably. At times it is tech optimism that dominates the debates (sometimes even a techno-boosterism that sees technology as key to heaven on earth), and at other times it is more low-spirited attitudes ranging from romantic uneasiness to doom-and-gloom Luddism and technology-bashing. A closer look at these various attitudes – and reflection on how technology and power are intertwined — will help generate a more skeptical attitude towards all of them and contribute to a more level-headed debate, which is so badly needed. While ethical considerations will enter prominently, the philosophy of technology is broader than its ethics. It aims to interpret and critically assess the role of technology for human life and guide us to a more thoughtful integration of technology in our individual lives and in public decision making.  This course aims to teach you to do just that, starting with basic stances and key figures in the field and then progressing towards challenges around technology as they will arise for the 21st century. 

This course is jointly-listed with HKS as DPI-207.