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

AI and Society 28 (1):55-63 (2013)
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
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DOI 10.1007/s00146-012-0418-y
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