Topic area HDC 2013-2015: The human being in the course of technological change
[The following text can be downloaded as pdf (currently only available in German).]
Internet, computers, mobile phones, TV, virtual realities – cross-generational, a life without the major importance of technologies is increasingly hard to imagine. Modern media and technological change form part of today's information and knowledge-based society's every day life. Cycles of innovation become consistently shorter and man's dealing with highly diverse technologies changes at a fast pace. Concurrently these achievements allow for a more mobile way of working and living, open up new opportunities for action, but at the same time also present new challenges for the single agent. New requirements already begin to show, in regard to the technological systems that have to be developed as well as to cognitive, motivational, emotional, and social skills on behalf of the agent. Within the context of demographic change, their usage broadens the possibilities of the elderly; but at the same time the effects of exclusion aggravates with people, who are not able or willing to use the technological possibilities. Moreover, the use of new technologies shifts the social spheres of private and public and changes the processes of teaching and lifelong learning as well as the shapes of education.
In the course of technologization, which affects every sphere of human life, a new understanding of human competence and education as well as of our acting is constituted. Especially in those fields, in which technical media are no longer only seen as available instruments of human actions, but as nothing less than a proper partner of human interaction. In such a network of developments, modern technologies function differentiating and as identity forming tools. They offer concepts and ideas of a good life and shape a new human self-understanding - of human individuals as well as of human societies. Consequently, human scientific research is less interested in the technologies per se, but more in their effects on society and individuals, on education and culture, on life cycles and the demographic change, was well as on questions of ethic framing of the use of technologies.
Within the context of such problems, different relevant topics and related controversial questions can be elaborated:
The much discussed societal change becomes visible in a growing interlocking of the human being, media, and information technology. Social networks and virtual simultaneities create new forms of social processes and communications. Sustainability, education, demographic change, economic, fiscal, and ethic challenges, all of them are made new subjects of discussion, against the background of changing technological possibilities and a change of motives, values, and lifestyles of the individual as well as of society.
Opportunities but also risks of this development become obvious. Catchphrases like "digital dementia" or the "dehumanization of the markets" are becoming - independent of an exact analysis of the actual conception - highly controversial social topics. Moreover, technologies invade the body, are equally incorporated. Technological developments change in permanence the human relationship to the world, one's kind, as well as to one's own corporeality. Technological devices progressively become a mirror of our self up to the point that we use technological metaphors to describe ourselves and the world around us. The changed possibilities of storage lead to strategies of outsourcing knowledge and thereby to a transformation of knowledge to information. A digital literacy becomes an educational task of a postmedial reality, to make the structural complexity of the technologies visible and codes legible. Also questions of the political intensify when technologies can be interpreted and used as means of democratization, but also as possibilities of technocracy and totalitarian forms of society. In particular ways technologies interfere with the shaping and the prolongation of life (from glasses through to prosthesis, pacemaker, Bionic Exoskeleton, and much more), in order that ethical questions around the proper way of living and dying re-emerge in a different way.
At the systematic heart of these urging social problems and thereby at the very core of the research interest of the HDC lies the meaning of invasive and extracorporeal technologies for models of subjectivity and of the conditio humana (human condition). At this, the concentration of mechanisms and effects of incorporation serves as a model. This problem can be seen as indicatory for future developments of post-media worlds due to the interdependency of subjectivity and technology.
The individual and social consequences of the use of technology have to undergo a critical, interdisciplinary evaluation, based on evidence and oriented toward the human being, to answer the question how innovations, oriented toward the human individual, can and have to be realized by the scientific community on the base of scientific knowledge acquisition. Technologies have always infiltrated and still infiltrate every area of human life and affect explicitly, but especially implicitly the conditio humana. It is here, where the research topic The Human Being in the Course of Technological Change comes into play and unfolds interdisciplinarily human scientific dimensions of the dynamics of new technologies for the individual and social attitude towards the world of the human being and the human way of acting.
With the outlined field of research, the faculty explores a yet hardly systematically grasped scientific territory. Thus it is capable to have a lasting influence on the interdisciplinary research context.
Keywords for the thematic orientation and the focus to evolvement of the human scientific field of research The Human Being in the Course of Technological Change could be:
→ Technology and education
→ Technology and age / demographic change
→ Technological effects and social change
→ Technical shaping of social communication and political participation
→ Technical acting and the acting of technology