The Philosophy Club and Computer Club will host Diane Michelfelder of Macalaster College. Her lecture is titled "Homo Applicans: On Being Human in a World of Disappearing Things." The focus is on the philosophy of technology. The abstract of her lecture is as follows:
While the development of one technological artifact does not have to lead to the disappearance of another—witness the continued endurance of the acoustic guitar despite the invention of its solid-body electric cousin in the 1950s—it is often the case that one technological innovation (think digital cameras) eventually replaces another (think Kodak film or the Polaroid). What distinguishes technological development in this century, though, is less the replacement of one innovation by another but more the replacement of material things themselves by applications.
Looking at the ethical impacts of technological artifacts has long been a central concern for the philosophy of technology, but generally (as in recent debates over whether it is ethical to “moralize” technology by intentionally designing artifacts so as to privilege particular moral outcomes over others) the focus of this concern has been on material objects themselves. But what if we shift this focus of concern to the loss of physical objects and the rise of applications? What might the impacts of this transition be on our abilities to sustain ethical relations with those others in our midst?