PhD Seminar by Peter-Paul Verbeek – Disruptive Technologies and the possibilities of Responsible Design

The impact of new and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, genome editing, and climate engineering, is so profound, that it can be considered to be disruptive. These technologies do not only have radical consequences for society  as is expressed by the concept of 'the Fourth Revolution' and 'Society 5.0' that is emerging from that  but also for critical and ethical reflection. Technologies have become ethically disruptive, in the sense that they challenge and affect the very concepts with which we can do ethics in the first place. What do 'agency', 'responsibility' and 'empathy' mean when artificial agents are entering society? What does 'democratic representation' mean when climate engineering might urge us to also include future generations, and the rights of ecosystems? What can the notion of 'the humane' still mean when genome editing enables us to develop human-animal hybrids? This seminar will explore the ethically disruptive character of emerging technologies in detail, by investigating the various ways in which technologies can be ethically significant themselves. Breaking the human monopoly on ethics and expanding it towards technology will make it possible to connect ethics more directly to practices of design. The resulting 'Guidance Ethics Approach' enables bottom-up ethical reflection that can foster the responsible design, implementation and use of new and emerging technologies.


Distinguished Professor of Philosophy of Technology and Co-Director of the DesignLab, University of Twente 

Peter-Paul Verbeek (1970) is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy of Technology and co-director of the DesignLab of the University of Twente. He is also honorary professor of Techno-Anthropology at Aalborg University, Denmark. His research focuses on the philosophy of human-technology relations, and aims to contribute to philosophical theory, ethical reflection, and practices of design and innovation. He is also chairperson of the UNESCO World Commission for the Ethics of Science and Technology (COMEST). Currently, he is one of the 6 Principal Investigators of a 10-year research program on the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies. Among his book publications are ‘Postphenomenological Investigations: Essays on Human-Technology Relations’ (Lexington 2015, with Robert Rosenberger), ‘The Moral Status of Technical Artefacts’ (Springer 2014, with Peter Kroes), ‘Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things’ (University of Chicago Press, 2011), and ‘What Things Do: Philosophical Reflections on Technology, Agency, and Design’.

Join this seminar on Zoom
URL: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/82730229596
Meeting ID: 827 3022 9596
Passcode: 497630

  • All PolyU PhD students are welcome.
  • This seminar, hosted on Zoom Meeting, allows only authenticated users (i.e. Zoom logged-in users).
  • Event registration is required (click HERE). Registrants will receive a reading list prior to this seminar.