The rise of AI-based systems has been accompanied by the belief that these systems are impartial and do not suffer from the biases that humans and older technologies express. It becomes evident, however, that gender and racial biases exist in some AI algorithms. The question is where the bias is rooted—in the training dataset or in the algorithm? Is it a linguistic issue or a broader sociological current? Works in feminist philosophy of technology and behavioral economics reveal the gender bias (...) in AI technologies as a multi-faceted phenomenon, and the linguistic explanation as too narrow. The next step moves from the linguistic aspects to the relational ones, with postphenomenology. One of the analytical tools of this theory is the “I-technology-world” formula that models our relations with technologies, and through them—with the world. Realizing that AI technologies give rise to new types of relations in which the technology has an “enhanced technological intentionality”, a new formula is suggested: “I-algorithm-dataset.” In the third part of the article, four types of solutions to the gender bias in AI are reviewed: ignoring any reference to gender, revealing the considerations that led the algorithm to decide, designing algorithms that are not biased, or lastly, involving humans in the process. In order to avoid gender bias, we can recall a feminist basic understanding—visibility matters. Users and developers should be aware of the possibility of gender and racial biases, and try to avoid them, bypass them, or exterminates them altogether. (shrink)
This book is the first postphenomenological analysis of the important roles the cellphone plays in contemporary everydayness. It is an example of a new methodology to study everyday technologies that combines historical research with a philosophical investigation.
Writing is frequently analyzed as a mode of communication. But writing can be done for personal reasons, to remind oneself of things to do, of thoughts, of events. The cellphone has revealed this shift, commencing as a communication device and ending up as a memory prosthesis that records what we see, hear, read and think. The recordings are not necessarily for communicating a message to others, but sometimes just for oneself. Today, when machine learning algorithms read, write and transmit, a (...) new mode of communication arises that is not centered on the human. In this chapter the various phases of modern writing are modeled according to postphenomenology. As a branch of philosophy of technology, postphenomenology offers a set of analytical tools to study technologies and our relations to them. One of its central frameworks is the scheme of “I–technology–world.” The author proposes some modifications so that the scheme can systematically model the changes in the humans users, in machine learning algorithms imbued with non-human cognition and in the environments of readers, interlocutors and contexts. (shrink)
In this reply to my reviewers, I touch upon Husserl’s notion of fantasy. Whereas Kant positions fantasy outside the scope of his own work, Husserl brings it back. The importance of this notion lies in freeing imagination from the tight link to images, as for Husserl imagination is an activity that functions as a “quasi perception.” Ihde and Stiegler enrich Husserl’s analysis of imagination with various aspects of technology: Ihde shows how changes in the technologies that mediate our imagination will (...) necessarily change our imagination; Stiegler broadens Husserl’s analysis of retention. The two theories can be combined into a new understanding of subjectivity that is modeled as layers. Some layers can be performed by AI. The second part deals with the question of whether AI can be imaginative. Traditionally, imaginative creativity is associated with art. Bioart and AI art are brought as examples of a new definition of art, according to which art is the arrangement of materials in a way that produces a meaning. This definition does not refer specifically to creativity. In both forms of art, the biological/artificial and the human cooperate so that the former arranges the materials and the latter produces the meaning, albeit this division of labor is not clear-cut. The result is a co-shaping process. My conclusion is that algorithms can be considered creative by human standards, but this entails a new mode of imagination that is co-shaped and co-shared by humans and algorithms. The layer paradigm explains how such co-shaping works in practice. (shrink)
Digital technologies are frequently considered as lacking material aspects. Today, it is evident that behind digital technologies lies a huge and complex material infrastructure in the form of fiber optic cables, servers, satellites, and screens. Postphenomenology has theorized the relations to material things as embodiment relations. Taking into account that technologies can also have hermeneutic aspects, this theory defines hermeneutic relations as those in which we read the world through technologies. The article opens with a review of some theoretical developments (...) to hermeneutic relations with a special focus on digital technologies. The article suggests that in the digital world, material hermeneutics needs to be updated as it shifts from a scientific to an everyday technological context. Now, technologies not only “give voice” to things, they also produce new meanings to informational structures and direct users to certain meanings. When it comes to digital technologies, especially those involving artificial intelligence (AI), the technology actively mediates the world. In postphenomenological terms, it possesses a technological intentionality. The postphenomenological formula should be updated to reflect this type of technological intentionality, by reversing the arrow of intentionality so that it points to the user, rather than from the user. (shrink)
The article proposes to model the phenomenon of the cell phone as a wall-window. This model aims at explicating some of the perceptions and experiences associated with cellular technology. The wall-window model means that the cell phone simultaneously separates the user from the physical surroundings (the wall), and connects the user to a remote space (the window). The remote space may be where the interlocutor resides or where information is stored (e.g. the Internet). Most cell phone usage patterns are modeled (...) as a single dimension according to the level of distraction or attention of the user. In order to accommodate nuanced situations such as augmented reality, I suggest a two-dimensional layout: the wall-window. The wall represents the attention to the immediate physical environment, while the window represents the attention to a remote space. The wall-window model further evolves once a screen is woven into this layout. This addition is easily understood due to the screen’s etymology, which is associated with the concepts of shield or barrier. From a technical perspective, the screen has become an integral part of the cell phone. Furthermore, a screen itself is both a wall and a window. Lastly, once a cell phone is supplemented with a screen, it is easier to refer to it as media. And again, media fits into the wall-window model. (shrink)
Why does a cell phone have a screen? From televisions and cell phones to refrigerators, many contemporary technologies come with a screen. The article aims at answering this question by employing Emmanuel Levinas’ notions of the Other and the face. This article also engages with Don Ihde’s conceptualization of alterity relations, in which the technological acts as quasi-other with which we maintain relations. If technology is a quasi-other, then, I claim, the screen is the quasi-face. By exploring Levinas’ ontology, specifically (...) what can be identified as his tool analysis, as well as his notion of the face, a new understanding of contemporary technologies can be extracted. Some of these technologies hardly fit into the Heideggerian notion of the hand as the main interface to artifacts. Instead they require the face. Levinas’ notion of the face is analyzed from an ontological perspective and developed in conjunction with the screen. As the screen serves as a quasi-face, it enables the construction of quasi-other technological artifacts. (shrink)
Today's navigation is different, with no paper map or compass. Instead we use a cellphone that has a built-in GPS. Such cellphone is also equipped with an embedded camera that can read signs in various languages and barcodes that most humans cannot decipher. Combined, the GPS and the camera participate in the production and exercise of augmented reality, where reality is presented with layers of information which are accessible only through technological mediation. Currently such mediation is enabled by the cellphone, (...) thereby providing novel dimensions to our experience of mobility. Consequently it produces innovative ways of navigation and a new sensation of reality. (shrink)
This article suggests several design principles intended to assist in the development of ethical algorithms exemplified by the task of fighting fake news. Although numerous algorithmic solutions have been proposed, fake news still remains a wicked socio-technical problem that begs not only engineering but also ethical considerations. We suggest employing insights from ethics of care while maintaining its speculative stance to ask how algorithms and design processes would be different if they generated care and fight fake news. After reviewing the (...) major characteristics of ethics of care and the phases of care, we offer four algorithmic design principles. The first principle highlights the need to develop a strategy to deal with fake news on the part of the software designers. The second principle calls for the involvement of various stakeholders in the design processes in order to increase the chances of successfully fighting fake news. The third principle suggests allowing end-users to report on fake news. Finally, the last principle proposes keeping the end-user updated on the treatment in the suspected news items. Implementing these principles as care practices can render the developmental process more ethically oriented as well as improve the ability to fight fake news. (shrink)
Postphenomenology and Media: Essays on Human–Media–World Relations explores our contemporary media landscape from the unique perspective of postphenomenology. This volume for the first time puts the central concepts of postphenomenology to work for the specific analysis of new, digital media—thus delivering a wholly innovative take on their study.
Deleuze and Guattari’s Thousand Plateaus includes some useful concepts to understand technologies and their relations to humans as individuals and as a society. This article provides an introduction to their notions of machine and becoming and places them in the context of technological use in general, with a special focus on the cellphone. The concept of machine exceeds the technological context, yet it can be still relevant to technologies, especially digital ones. The concept of becoming assists in better understanding co-shaping (...) processes in which a technology and its users change in tandem. Becoming is analyzed as a set of five characteristics:  transduction, a change process in both the user and the technology;  rhizome, no starting or end point;  molecularity, small movement or change that can create a big difference;  partial simulation, creating a non-identical copy; and  anti-memory, forgetting the past. Based on this analysis, the concept of becoming-mobile is introduced as a new way of understanding the interrelations between humans and their cellphones. Becoming-mobile can be further developed either with Deleuze and Guattari’s own concepts such as nomadicism or with “external” concepts such as postphenomenology’s embodiment and new mobility studies’ virtual mobility. Machine, becoming, and becoming-mobile address some basic questions in philosophy of technology, thereby enabling us to refer to Deleuze and Guattari as philosophers of technology. (shrink)
As AI algorithms advance and produce surprising outputs, the question of imagination arises. Can we classify their output as imaginative? And what is their effect on human imagination? Apparently, algorithms follow Kant’s explanations on human imagination, thereby pushing us to update our understanding of imagination by taking into account the co-shaping between humans and their technologies. Such a new understating is offered in this article based on the theories of Don Ihde and Bernard Stiegler. With Ihde, imagination is conceived as (...) tightly linked to perception. Imagination evolves from the modernist task of seeking new points-of-view to a new mode in which technologies present imaginative layers of information on top of reality. With Stiegler, imagination is regarded as tightly linked to memory. He demonstrates how imagination complements memory, serves as a condition to memory/technology and at the same time how imagination itself is conditioned by memory/technology. In this article I develop a new synthesis: imagination as composed of perception and memory. This is the foundation of my layered model of digital imagination. In this model, the task of AI algorithms is the filling in of the layers with data. By producing endless possibilities, these technologies “automate” the Kantian “free play” of imagination, allowing us to examine more options and focus on the best of them. The model reserves the production of meaning to humans. Our role as humans is to generate meaning to the link between layers and establish new layers. (shrink)
The Onlife Manifesto rightfully points to the emergence of new forms of subjectivity in the digital age and how ICT calls for the re-distribution of tasks and responsibilities between humans and their technologies. However, Attention is still conceived in the Manifesto in modernist terms, as a problem of distraction. Within the terminology of Attention economy, the Manifesto is critical about the abuse of traditional forms of Attention, but does not make the next step to develop an alternative. In this chapter, (...) I elaborate on the notion of Attention and think of its new form in the digital age. A genealogy of the notion shows how Attention reflects the dominant technologies of a period. In the age of the printed book, Attention meant focusing on one activity at a time, and the background had to be silent and unnoticeable. In the age of radio and television, when stations and channels were switched with a single button, Attention was still focused on a single item but for shorter periods of time. Today, in the age of multi-processor computers and cell phones, Attention is distributed among tasks. In its distributed form, Attention can provide a subversive answer to the Attention economy that requires our undivided Attention. (shrink)
Attention has been addressed either as a distinction of a figure from background or as a searchlight scanning of a surface. In both ways, attention is limited to a single object. The aim of this article is to suggest a platform for an interpretation of multi-attention, that is, attention based on multiplicity of objects and spaces. The article describes how attention can be given to more than one object, based on the experiences of pilots, parents and car drivers.
As part of the Special Section: Technology & Pandemic, this article examines the experience of teaching and learning via Zoom. I examine how technologies mediate the learning process with the postphenomenological notions of embodiment and hermeneutic relations. This section serves as a basis for understanding the transformation of that process into online learning. The next section is named “the Zoom-bie”—a combination of the words Zoom and zombie. The figure of the Zoom-bie provides me a way to critically review the new (...) practices experienced in the spring semester of 2020. After analyzing the variations of the learning process with a fresh look at embodiment and hermeneutic relations, the last section titled “the digital classroom” examines this transformation from an alternative point-of-view, that of the classroom as a technology-saturated background. (shrink)
The question of whether animals have technologies is studied in this article in three genealogical steps according to the development of human technologies: tools, machines and digital technologies. In the age of tools, animals were regarded as lacking technologies. In the age of machines, observations in animals show tool usage. However, Marx attributes both machines and tools only to humans in order to avoid a break between premodern humanity that had only tools, to modern humanity that invented and used machines. (...) In the age of digital technologies, animals have been observed using and inventing tools as well as complex technics like language and agriculture. These genealogical steps conform to Calarco’s mapping of animality into identity, difference and indifference, which allow us to think not only of the identity between humans’ and animals’ technologies but also of the differences. (shrink)
This commentary is an attempt to rethink the ethics of taking care in posthumanist times. It is an effort to combine ethics, posthumanism and psychological theories. I examine how the psychological notion of long-term well-being can serve as an ethical yardstick and how it can be relevant to non-humans.