The Philosophy of Human-Technology Relations focuses on the analysis, evaluation and responsible design of the relations between humans and technologies. How to understand the character and dynamics of the relations between human beings and technologies? What are the social and cultural implications of these relations? How can we take them into account in the ethics of technology, and in responsible design, use, and innovation? A central line of research concerns the development of a theory of technological mediation, that conceptualizes how technologies help to shape our understanding of the world, our ethical frameworks, and our existential concerns. A second line of research concerns the normative evaluation of these implications of technology, and the connection to practices of design and innovation.
The research is embedded in the Philosophy of Human-Technology Relations research group at the University of Twente, which I chair, and in the PhilosophyLab at the Twente DesignLab.
Current research projects (funded):
- Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies
10-year research project funded by a ‘Gravitation’ grant, to investigate the Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies. Overall aim of the research program is to advance our philosophical and ethical frameworks to understand, morally assess, and intervene in the development and implementation of new, socially disruptive technologies: digital technologies, bio and brain technologies, and environmental technologies. Such technologies are likely to have transformative effects on nature, social and institutional structures, human culture, everyday life, and most importantly on ourselves. At the same time, they also disrupt ethics itself: they challenge central concepts in ethics, like autonomy, moral rights, and democracy. In the project we will re-think these concepts, and also develop new ones. We will do so in three domains: nature, society, and the human being. Principal Investigators / program leaders: Philip Brey (University of Twente, coordinating PI), Ibo van de Poel (TU Delft, Philosophy), Ingrid Robeyns (Utrecht University, Ethics Institute) Sabine Roeser (TU Delft, Philosophy), Peter-Paul Verbeek (University of Twente, Philosophy and DesignLab), Wijnand IJsselsteijn (TU Eindhoven, Human-Technology Interaction).
- Pride and Prejudice (subproject on technologies and our understanding of health, disease and well-being)
4TU project on chronic disease prevention through real-life monitoring and context-aware intervention design. From our research group, Bas de Boer works as a postdoc in this project to investigate the role of technologies in our understanding of disease, prevention, and the body. More information can be found here.
- TopFit (subproject on the ethics and epistemology of citizen science)
Research project on citizen science in the context of health and disease prevention, with a number of institutions from the Eastern part of The Netherlands. From our research group, one postdoc (vacancy) will work on the ethical and epistemic questions related to the CitizenLab that will be established. The project will develop a framework for ‘CitizenEthics’, which will identify and address ethical questions regarding (medical) technology from the perspective of citizens and patients rather than medical or ethical experts. Also, it will develop an epistemology of citizen science, analyzing the character of the knowledge produced in a CitizenLab, the kind of scientific expertise it involves, the role of the material infrastructure of the CitizenLab in knowledge production, and the position of the researcher, who is both subject and object of investigation. Finally, the project will investigate how CitizenScience and CitizenLabs can be understood as elements of a democratization of science, and what this implies for our understanding of science and of democracy.
- Designing for Controversies in Responsible Smart Cities
As Amersfoort Municipality is building a new Internet of Things infrastructure, this consortium of public-private partners wants to develop a government-citizen-academic-industry collaboration platform that allows a wide range of stakeholders in a series of co-design sessions to discuss ethical, juridical, and social controversies, and foster broader support. Consortiumpartners: Gemeente Amersfoort, Marxman Advocaten, Aerovision, Kennislab voor Urbanisme and Design Innovation Groep. More information can be found here. Researchers: Prof.dr.ir. M.C. van der Voort (PI, UT), Dr. M.L. de Lange (UU) and Prof.dr.ir. P.P. C.C. Verbeek (UT).
- BRIdging Data in the built Environment (BRIDE)
In the BRIDE-project, a team of philosophers, designers and computer scientists investigates how a 3D bridge can enhance citizens’ experience of “cityness”. The bridge, which is equipped with sensors, can respond to citizens’ interaction with the bridge. This will allow for the creation of new forms of smart urban space. Consortiumpartners: MX3D, Foundation for Responsible Robotics and Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions. More information can be found here. Researchers: Dr. M. Nagenborg (PI, UT), Prof.dr.ir. P.P.C.C. Verbeek (UT), Prof. dr. G.W. Kortuem (TUD), Prof. dr. mr. ir. N. Doorn (TUD) and Dr.ir. N. Meratnia (UT)
Individual research projects:
Projects in the Philosophy of Human-Technology Relations group can be grouped in four lines:
a. Theorizing Human-Technology Relations
- Jesse Benjamin: Complex Intentions: the Hermeneutics of Algorithms (PhD project, supervision C. Müller-Birn, M. Nagenborg, and P.P. Verbeek)
- Margoth Gonzalez Woge: Environmental Technologies (PhD project, supervision M. Nagenborg and P.P. Verbeek)
- Bart van Haaster: Technology and self-relations (NWO-funded project, supervision C. Aydin and P.P. Verbeek)
- Jonne Hoek: Technology and Transcendence (PhD project in VICI project Theorizing Technological Mediation)
- Niek Zuidhof: Acceptance and Appropriation of Wearables (Saxion-funded PhD project, supervision S. Ben Allouch, O. Peters, P.P. Verbeek)
- Nicola Liberati: Philosophy and design of human-technology relations (postdoc project in VICI project Theorizing Technological Mediation)
- Jan Bergen: Technology, self-relations and the other (postdoc project in VICI project Theorizing Technological Mediation)
- Theo Wobbes: Philosophical Anthropology and Human Enhancement (PhD project, supervision C. Aydin and P.P. Verbeek)
- Julia Grillmayr (Universität Wien), PhD project. Title dissertation ‘Von Menschen- und Maschinenparks: umweltliche Technologie durch die Linse zeitgenössischer Literatur und Philosophie’ (27 Jan 2017, co-supervisor, with prof. Bachleitner / general supervisor of overarching Thinking Space project)
- Lucie Dalibert (University of Twente), PhD project in VIDI project The Blurring Boundaries between Humans and Technology. Title dissertation ‘Posthumanism and somatechnologies: exploring the intimate relations between humans and technologies‘; (10 Apr 2014, promotor and main supervisor, with prof. Ciano Aydin)
- Asle Kiran (University of Twente), postdoc project on Human-Technology Relations and Autonomy in Telecare; NWO-project Telecare at Home.
- Wouter Mensink (Leiden University), PhD project at Leiden University. Title dissertation ‘Subject of innovation, or: how to redevelop “the patient” with technology‘ (20 Dec 2011; promotor, with prof. Bernhard Katzy).
- Asle Kiran (Trondheim University, Norway), PhD project at Trondheim University. Title dissertation ‘The Primacy of Action – Technological Co-Constitution of Practical Space‘ (29 May 2009; external supervisor, with prof. Dan Zahavi, Copenhagen).
b. Technology and Scientific Practice
- Bas de Boer: Philosophy of Technology and Health (postdoc project in 4TU project ‘Pride and Prejudice’
- vacancy: Philosophy and Ethics of Citizen Science and Technology (philosophy postdoc project in RegioDeal project ’TopFit’)
- Bas de Boer: How Scientific Instruments Speak: Technologies in Neuroscientific Practice (postdoc project in VICI project Theorizing Technological Mediation)
c. Ethics and Politics of Technology
- Melis Bas: Hannah Arendt as a political philosopher of technology (PhD project, supervision C. Aydin and P.P. Verbeek)
- Ching Hung: Politics of Behavior-Influencing Sustainable Technologies (PhD project, supervision M. Nagenborg and P.P. Verbeek)
- Olya Kudina: The Technological mediation of Morality (May 17 2019, promotor, with dr. Michael Nagenborg; PhD project in VICI project Theorizing Technological Mediation)
- Jan Bats: The Moral Matter of an Interactive Online Domain (March 1 2019, promotor, with dr. Rianne Valkenburg, Haagse Hogeschool / Eindhoven University of Technology)
- Steven Dorrestijn: ‘The Design of our own lives: Technical mediation and subjectivation after Foucault‘ (10 Oct 2012, promotor, with prof. Hans Achterhuis.)
- Katinka Waelbers: ‘Doing good with things: taking responsibility for the social role of technologies’ (25 June 2010; promotor, with prof. Tsjalling Swierstra).
d. Design, Art, and Technology
- Sage Cammers – Goodwin: Bridging the Gaps between Humans and their Technological Infrastructure (PhD-funded project in NWO project BRIDE / Bridging Data in the Built Environment, supervision M. Nagenborg, N. Meratnia and P.P. Verbeek
- Anouk Geenen: Responsible Design for Smart Cities (NWO-funded PhD project in project Designing for Controversies in Responsible Smart Cities, supervision M. van der Voort and P.P. Verbeek)
- Laurens van der Heijden: Music, Sound, and Human-Technology Relations (PhD project, supervision V. Meelberg (Radboud University) and P.P. Verbeek)
- Liesbeth Stam: Postphenomenology and Architecture (PhD project at KU Leuven, co-supervision with prof. Ann Heylighen)
- Yvonne Dröge Wendel: The relational and performative abilities of things (NWO-funded PhD project in program ‘PhD in the Arts’, supervision S. Doruff and P.P. Verbeek)
- Sabrina Hauser: Design-oriented HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) through Postphenomenology: A design research inquiry informed by philosophical perspectives on technology’ (July 19 2018, co-supervisor with prof. Ron Wakkary, Simon Fraser University)
- Lianne Toussaint: ‘Wearing Technology: When Fashion and Technology Entwine‘ (6 Sept 2018, co-promotor and co-supervisor, with prof. A. Smelik, Radboud University)
- Jantine Bouma: ‘Managing Social Impact in Design‘ (11 Sept 2013, promotor, with prof. Wim Poelman)
- Nynke Tromp (Delft University of Technology): ‘Social Design. How products and services can help us act in ways that benefit society‘ (12 July 2013, copromotor, with prof. Paul Hekkert)
Past research projects (funded):
- Toward a Theory of Technological Mediation (finished 2019)
NWO-VICI funded project on the mediating role of technology in knowledge, ethics, and metaphysics. Researchers: Peter-Paul Verbeek (PI), Bas de Boer (PhD candidate), Jonne Hoek (PhD candidate), Olya Kudina (PhD candidate), Nicola Liberati (postdoc), Jan Bergen (postdoc). More information can be found here.
- Responsible design of drones and drone services (finished 2017)
NWO-MVI (Responsible Innovation) funded project to develop an ethical and legal tool for the responsible design and use of drones and drone services. Researchers: Lesley Broos (UT), Michiel Heldeweg (UT), Irna van der Molen (UT), Peter-Paul Verbeek (UT), Peter Novitzky (UT), Haomiao Du (UT).
- The Relational and Performative Abilities of Things (finished 2016)
NWO-Artistic Research funded project about the role of objects in human existence. Funded by NWO: PhD in the Fine Arts. Researcher: Yvonne Dröge Wendel, PhD candidate.
- Technology and the Limits of Humanity (finished 2013).
An inquiry into the anthropological and ethical aspects of technologies that affect the human being, like brain implants, pre implantation diagnistics, prostheses, and psychofarmaca. Which new relations between humans and technologies arise here, which ethical questions are connected to them, and which role can the philosophy of technology play here? (NWO-VIDI project). Investigators: Lucie Dalibert (PhD candidate), Theo Wobbes (PhD candidate), Peter-Paul Verbeek (researcher, supervisor/promotor).
- Telecare at Home (finished 2013).
Research project about telecare and its implications for the practices and experiences of patients and healthcare professionals. Part of the interdisciplinary research project Telecare at Home, directed by Nelly Oudshoorn, funded by NWO: Maatschappelijk Verantwoord Innoveren (Socially Responsible Innovation). Researchers: Nelly Oudshoorn (UT), Ivo Maathuis (UT), Val Jones (UT), Asle Kiran (postdoc), Peter-Paul Verbeek (researcher).
- Theory and Ethics of Behavior-Influencing Technology (finished 2012).
An investigation of behavior-influencing technology and its ethical aspects. Funded by IOP-IPCR (Innovative Research Projects – Integral Product Creation and Realisation). Part of the 3TU project Design for Usability. Researchers: Steven Dorrestijn (PhD candidate), Peter-Paul Verbeek (researcher).
- Technology and the Matter of Morality (finished 2008).
NWO-VENI project on the moral significance of technology and its implications for ethical theory, practical ethics, and technology development. Researcher: Peter-Paul Verbeek.