25th Anniversary Volume A Faustian Exchange: What is to be human in the era of Ubiquitous Technology?

AI & SOCIETY

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 55-63

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Pervasion of what? Techno–human ecologies and their ubiquitous spirits

  • Mark CoeckelberghAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Twente Email author 

Abstract

Are the robots coming? Is the singularity near? Will we be dominated by technology? The usual response to ethical issues raised by pervasive and ubiquitous technologies assumes a philosophical anthropology centered on existential autonomy and agency, a dualistic ontology separating humans from technology and the natural from the artificial, and a post-monotheistic dualist and creational spirituality. This paper explores an alternative, less modern vision of the “technological” future based on different assumptions: a “deep relational” view of human being and self, an ecological view of human–technology relations, and “ubiquitous” spirituality. Moving beyond an ethics of fear and control, it is argued that technology is part of a lived and active whole that is at the same time human, technological, social, and spiritual. Influenced by ecological and Eastern thinking, it is concluded that an ethics of technology understood as a relational ethics of life asks us to adapt and grow within this multi-faced ecology, which is currently—but not necessarily—pervaded by hyper-individualist modernity and its ego-boosting technologies of the self. This growth is only possible by relating to, and learning from, other cultures and from their specific way of pervading and being pervaded.

Keywords

Pervasive technology Ubiquitous technology Artificial intelligence Ethics Autonomy Self Ecology Phenomenology Spirituality Buddhism Taoism Confucianism