Can Technology Save Us, or Does It Signal Our End?

1 Dec, 2021

This is a question that technologists and philosophers will ask later this month when Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) hosts the First Annual Conference of the European Culture and Technology Lab+ (ECT Lab+).

The conference will examine how to re-invent technology to meet the climate change challenges recently highlighted by COP26 and move beyond the current geological era, characterised by artificial environmental disasters. 

Hosted by the European University of Technology (EUt +) in Dublin, of which TU Dublin is a member, ECT Lab+ was conceived to consider the human impact of technology, from driverless haulage trucks to the depletion of the natural resources required to replace obsolete, but functioning technology. Joining TU Dublin at ECT Lab+, are leading philosophers of Technology and Technologists from across Europe from within and beyond, including experts from the US and China.

Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, a Philosopher from the TU Dublin School of Creative Arts and ECT Lab+ lead, explains the inspiration for the conference was the announcement of the Anthropocene. "Over twenty years ago, Paul Crutzen, a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, heralded the beginning of a new geological era – the Anthropocene - a new era where the impact of humans was so great that it has changed the very geology of our planet. The first annual conference will question how humans can rehabilitate the wealth creation traits of modern technology to avert the imminent climate disaster with new forms of economy, research and new forms of technologies."

First Annual Conference of the European Culture and Technology Lab+ keynote speakers, include:

Yuk Hui is a Chinese Philosopher who has come to prominence in recent years for his works on Technology and Cosmotechnics, who has developed some key philosophical concepts that build on Philosopher Bernard Stiegler's work. He will present on Techno-Diversity; just as there is a crisis of biodiversity, the reduction of the number of species is having enormous consequences on the living planet; Yuk Hui argues that there is a crisis of 'technodiverity' where there has a lack of diversity of technologies and technological development which denies the cosmological aspects of technologies (cosmotechnics). This lack of technological diversity has led to the development of technologies with one pre-dominant model, that of the extraction of value for monetary purposes. Extraction of natural resources but also attention, time and sleep etc., within our contemporary computational condition.

Aphra Kerr from Maynooth University will explore the thematic of locality and technological development by explaining her research findings on the Galapagos Islands in 2019 as part of the Marie-Curie funded project Real Smart Cities (realsms.eu). The Galapagos are synonymous with Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution; however, little attention has been given to the inhabitants of the Archipelago and their relation to technology and climate change.

Carl Mitcham from Colorado School of Mines is a well-known exponent of Science and Technology Studies in the Unities States and the development of ethics within the engineering curriculum. His talk will focus on the democracy of science and the mechanisms through which citizens can participate in the development of science and technology and not simply as end-users but as co-creators of technology.

The First Annual Conference of the European Culture and Technology Lab+ will take place on Thursday, 9 December 2021 and Friday, 10 December 2021. More information is available from the European University of Technology website and read the European Culture and Technology Lab+ Conference Schedule  here - all times CET minus 1 hour. 

Register for ECT Lab+