Ethics and politics of technology

University of Amsterdam

Smart cities, medical technologies, artificial intelligence, the energy transition: new technologies are all around us and affect every part of society and our daily lives, raising new ethical and political questions. The new Platform for the Ethics and Politics of Technology (PEPT), which will be launched on 13 November, will be stimulating the debate surrounding these questions by bringing together experts from different departments of the UvA.

The platform will connect existing research projects but will also initiate new collaborations on the ethics and politics of technology. PEPT is an initiative organised by the Faculty of Humanities and is housed at the Philosophy department. ‘The Philosophy department has a lot to offer when it comes to the discussion about technology, because we are trained to reflect on ethical and political-philosophical matters’, says professor Huub Dijstelbloem, co-initiator of the platform along with Beatle Roessler.

Broader than just artificial intelligence

The UvA already devotes a lot of attention to artificial intelligence, but the new platform will also look at technology in a broader sense. Dijstelbloem: ‘Besides artificial intelligence, technology takes on lots of other different shapes, which raise important questions. Think, for instance, of what the concept of privacy actually entails and how we can safeguard it in a world riddled with all sorts of smart devices. Or of medical-technological questions: is a doctor allowed to interfere medically if someone is not ill? Should you be allowed to give someone a pill that stops the ageing process?’

A theme such as climate change also raises ethical and political questions. Dijstelbloem: ‘Rising sea levels and increasingly extreme weather might lead to us significantly changing the Dutch landscape by using technology. How should the burden of such a process be distributed among our population?’

Collaboration within and outside of the university

The platform will collaborate with the Research Priority Areas (RPAs) as well as other existing research initiatives focusing on technology at the UvA. By organising (among others) lectures, debates and seminars, PEPT seeks to offer a broader as well as a more intensive approach. Furthermore, one of the aims of the platform is to intensify collaborations with external partners from civil society, government and industry, who also increasingly encounter ethical and political questions when it comes to technology.

Official launch on 13 November

On Friday, 13 November, from 15:30-17:00, the platform will be launched via Zoom. Speakers at the launch event will be Irene Zwiep (Director of the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research), Thomas Poell (Co-Director RPA Global Digital Cultures), Sonja Smets (Member Steering Board RPA Human(e) AI), and Peter Sloot (director Institute of Advanced Study). Beate Roessler (Chair Department of Philosophy), Huub Dijstelbloem (Philosophy and WRR) and Marjolein Lanzing (Philosophy) will be moderating the discussion.

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