WS 2016-2017: Human Technology - Technology Humans


The word "technique" originally means "art" contrasting with "nature", which was born (lat. natus) without human help. Technology is made by humans, on the other hand, humanity developed - both in the good as in the bad, by technology. This impact of technology does not spare human nature itself: from the glasses over the heart pacemaker or the the artificial hip, we use technological advances in and at our body. The interface between humanity and technology is progressively permissive and even vague. Technical intelligence has already become a central element of our daily life, but the development does not stop here. Human made humanoid robots with complex face mimics evoke the impression of a personal presence that undermines in a stunning, maybe even startling way the border between humans and technology. The boom of information technology allows to expand our senses in a way that new realities (what is reality, by the way?) are generated. These tensions we want to explore in the current semester to provoke a thought process: what does is actually mean to be human?



To inspire this debate, we have invited three internationally known speakers to get quite different viewpoints on the interfaces of humanity:

  • Prof. Dr. Henrik Schärfe from Aarhus will tell about his experiences with his roboter clone and at the same time address the topic of Autonomous Intelligence (for instance as self-driving cars).
  • Prof. Dr. Friedemann Schrenk from the Senckenberg-Museum will give an anthropological view on the last 6 Millionen years of human genesis.
  • The British artist and first politically acknowledged Cyborg Neil Harbisson will tell us, how he generates a new reality using electrodes implanted in his brain.

These talks are public and topics and speakers are deliberately chosen in a controversial manner. The goal is not acadamic balance, but new viewpoints that help to leave everyday perspectives. Passion desired!


Searching Debate (DATES as pdf)

For those, wishing to get into the topic more deeply, we offer a preparation and digestion of the public talks in form of a "searching debate". The two teachers see their role to initiate and to accompany this process, but not to control it. The idea is that the participants develop their own questions and discuss them in an interdisciplinary context without being withhold by the limitations of their discipline. For each public talk, a preparatory meeting is conducted a week before to give background and to develop questions to be asked to the public speaker. In the week after the talk, there will be a digestive meeting, where we look at the answers that were given to these questions, what further questions are inspired and how we might address those in the future. To make this debate fruitful, a certain discipline and steadiness is important, but it is also important that this forum is conducted in complete liberty. Therefore, we will not do any tests or controls whatsoever. True liberty works only at simultaneous self discipline. We therefore ask those that want to enter the Searching Debate to register through the link below. If requested, we can, at the end of the semester confirm participation.