Anthropology of Technology: Robots, Ethics, and Our Close Relationship with Non-Human Entities

In the context of new technologies, the question of the human being is regaining importance. What is the human being? How does the human being (still) differ from technology? Anthropology of technology is dedicated to the question of the human being within the realm of technology. It examines which notions of the human being are embedded in technology and how our understanding of the human being evolves in the context of new technologies. For instance, in the face of humanoid, ever-improving robots, we ask ourselves what constitutes the human being und re-negotiate again what it means to be human.

This talk will illustrate, using the example of robot ethics, how our ethical considerations regarding technology are strongly influenced by our concept of humanity. In recent years, ethics has increasingly emphasized the significance of non-human entities. The human world is populated with non-human entities, such as robots and animals, with which we share close relationships. These entities also define us, we depend on them, and we develop affection for some of them. It becomes evident that anthropology and ethics of technology can only be fully grasped in relation to the multitude of non-human entities we coexist with.