Is Technology Helping us Avoid Reality? Public Lecture Explores TechNihilism and Responsible Design

May 2, 2017

Is Technology Helping us Avoid Reality? Public Lecture Explores TechNihilism and Responsible Design

Posted: 02/05/17

There exists a nihilistic tendency of humanity to use the multistability of technology in order to avoid facing the multistability of humanity. German philosopher, Nietzsche, outlined a number of evasive techniques that we engage in to avoid facing who we are but none compare to the evasive opportunities afforded to us by technology.  The ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology recently hosted a public lecture by Dr Nolen Gertz titled ‘From Techno-Hypnosis to Orgies of Activism’ where he addressed how technological design is increasingly aimed at leisure and liberation.

Dr Gertz argues that the trajectory of technological innovation is guided by a nihilistic tendency in that it continues to become more and more useful to us in its powers of avoidance.  Moving away from the philosophies of Aristotle and Marx where more leisure should mean more freedom, Dr Gertz argues that instead, more leisure has tended to result in more nihilism and perhaps a way to ‘freedom’ through designing responsibility instead.  Examples of such designed responsibility were explored by looking at contemporary interactive artworks and consciousness-raising video games, with the focus on how alterity relations can awaken us to responsibility.

Nolen Gertz is Assistant Professor of Applied Philosophy at the University of Twente, the Netherlands.  He is the coordinator of the 4TU Centre for Ethics and Technology’s Task Force on Risk, Safety and Security, and a Research Associate in Military Ethics at the Inamori International Centre for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University.  He is the author of The Philosophy of War and Exile (Palgrave 2014), and is currently writing a book on Nihilism and Technology.  He received his PhD in Philosophy from the New School for Social Research.

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