On the phenomenology and ethics of "smart" technology - Michel Puech


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On the phenomenology and ethics of "smart" technology - Michel Puech

  1. 1. 1 michel.puech@paris-sorbonne.fr 18th International Conference of the Society for Philosophy and Technology ISEG, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal July 4-6, 2013 On the Phenomenology and Ethics of “Smart” Technology made on a PC with LibreOffice funded by ETOS / TEM Research / Institut Telecom, Paris
  2. 2. 2 the meaning of “smart” smartphone, smart grids (power supply), smart cars, smart cities and environments, smart software and web sites, and so on a lot of studies about the social consequences of mobile telephony Ling 2004, Glotz et al. 2005, Ling & Donner 2009: state of the art; Goggin 2006 chap. 6: mobile (moral) panic few studies (or none) philosophically address the meaning of the notion of smart
  3. 3. 3 the meaning of “smart” just a marketing imposture? (yes) gadgets that provide 10 minutes fun 95 % of smartphone apps are gadget or junk but: quite normal in a Darwinian evolution process phenomenologically interesting anyway: the wow effect!
  4. 4. 4 the meaning of “smart” just a word? a linguistic epiphenomenon, a dictionary subentry? OED : “informal: having or showing a quick-witted intelligence: if he was that smart he would never have been tricked (of a device) programmed so as to be capable of some independent action: hi-tech smart weapons chiefly North American: showing impertinence by making clever or sarcastic remarks: don’t get smart or I’ll whack you one” very little analysis of what “smartness” exactly is for an artifact and what it means for the person in contact with it
  5. 5. 5 the meaning of “smart” we have moved from (artificial) “intelligence” to “smart” crucial difference? smart is ordinary how quickly miraculous technologies become ordinary and even necessary (Katz 2008: 3) no human-like Artificial Intelligence, no supra-human Singularity but smart devices, small and affordable, irresistibly user- friendly from a (miraculous) governing/dominating/controlling global intelligence to a ordinary service-driven local smart devices (Hawk and al. 2008) notion of “smartifact” (Ma et al. 2005)
  6. 6. 6 smartphone as the paradigmatic smartifact “smartphone” = handset able to 1) connect to networks via 3G, wifi, and/or similar the telephone side 2) run applications (“apps” = software) using at least screen and keyboard the computer side
  7. 7. 7 smartphone as the paradigmatic smartifact why “smart”? shazam → wow! - http://www.shazam.com “Tap the Shazam button to instantly tag, and then - explore, buy, share and comment.” automatic picking up of incoming calls when the phone is moved up to the ear “eye scroll” tracking to scroll down the pages as the user is reading
  8. 8. 8 smartphone as the paradigmatic smartifact why the smartest artifact? 1) convergence a Swiss-army-knife device multistability and maybe more → the smart is the principal and the best: the smartphone is the principal and the best: phone pager, short text sending device (including short emails) emergency call lifeline and global safety pager camera (for fun, or police violence recording) radio receiver and mobile music player GPS and maps collection public transportation timetable and real-time tracker notebook appointments calendar and reminder alarm clock and wristwatch dictionary and language assistance portable encyclopedia portable video-game pad voice recorder very short text reading device (news feeds) mirror (front-camera) for make-up or detecting salad remnants between teeth and is second (to a good laptop computer only) for: long email or long text writing/reading Web browsing (including online shopping) theater-like film experience
  9. 9. 9 smartphone as the paradigmatic smartifact why the smartest artifact? 2) wearability pocket-wearability is a requirement of the smart wearable like: glasses, wristwatches, keys, USB sticks mobility is smart ⇒ the mobile phone is smarter than the laptop (with comparable functions) because it is more mobile from furniture to gear when you move a desktop computer you move the furniture when you move with a laptop computer you move with a piece of furniture in a bag when you move with a smartphone you just move, with clothes on and having your life-gear with you the current limit to wearable smartness: the battery
  10. 10. 10 smartphone as the paradigmatic smartifact why the smartest artifact? 3) technological transparency the phone shifts from 3G to wifi, from app to Web, from SMS to email, as transparently as it shifts from one relay emitter to another, from one corporate- or public-owned network to another, from one version of its OS to another updated one → THE service/control problem apps installation and operations are (dangerously) done by back-office inaccessible routines the Apple standard ≠ the open source standard (Zittrain 2009) the Master Switch (Wu 2011)
  11. 11. 11 smartphone as the paradigmatic smartifact key smart app: texting SMS, Short Message Service (technically not an app) the most important and specific use of mobile phone according to empirical and conceptual surveys specific characters of the smart in texting: 1. user-invented service, huge success unanticipated by designers 2. low-tech inside a high-tech environment 3. virtually free and unlimited 4. opt-in real-time 5. apparent low implication for the emitter, potential high impact for the receiver
  12. 12. 12 phenomenology of the smart focus on the existential experience of the smartphone: service the notion of “service” is a mantra in marketing and R&D departments, but seldom heard in the humanities smart is a characteristic of service providing devices service ⇒ context awareness, to assure relevance popping up just at the right time is smart, irrelevant solicitations are dumb (“Do you really want to exit this program?”)
  13. 13. 13 phenomenology of the smart 2 examples: on a smartphone app, what is the key or menu command to display the keyboard on the screen? there is none, the keyboard is displayed when you need it, e.g. when you are about to fill a text input area natural gesture (inherited from mouse and click culture) using Windows 7 with an external monitor/projector added to the laptop screen
  14. 14. 14 phenomenology of the smart smartness = the perfect service? it can help in everything, in unanticipated ways the essence of the device and of the device paradigm (Borgmann 1984 chap. 9) the universal remote control (Rheingold 2002) remote control of other devices, of the world of objects, of other humans, of oneself (auto-discipline) = the magic wand the “promise of technology” at its best: a magic toy Fortunati in Glotz 2005, commenting Hickman 1988: a “magic helper” in the sense of Propp (fairy tales and mythology)
  15. 15. 15 phenomenology of the smart body and embodiment pocket-wearability brings about a near-embodiment experience 2 ways are being explored for more embodiment: wristwatch (Apple) glasses (Google) → “part of one's sense and presentation of self” (Goffman 1959)... like glasses common name in Finnish for the mobile phone: ”känny” or ”kännykkä” ≈ “an extension of the hand.” “almost a body part” (Oksman 2002) a “proper-body” part? “corps propre”, Merleau-Ponty →
  16. 16. 16 phenomenology of the smart lifeworld→ the proximal infosphere 3 infospheres: proximal / distal / global proximal: an intimate technosphere, transitional between the self and the world, the self and others not as intimate as mental awareness and self-presence not as mediated as the use of a non-embodied device (such as a landline phone or a desktop computer)
  17. 17. 17 phenomenology of the smart → the smartifact as the Teddy, Nanky, cuddly toy, comfort blanket, “binky", “pacifier”, and so on not only a disparaging remark about our childish addiction the smartphone → a reference to Winnicott's theory of the transitional object its function in the psychological development of the child (Winnicott 1971) why not a costly iPhone instead of a plastic blue rabbit or worn-out rag? 1) the existential intermediate position is key to the transitional function: it all happens in a “potential space”, at the interface between the self and the world 2) the “service” is important: a reassuring presence in the background
  18. 18. 18 phenomenology of the smart one major development of this approach: attachment theory in contemporary psychology Bowlby 1969 internalization of reassurance in the “secure” self attachment to objects and artifacts? → a caregiving function (mediating attachment figures) → m-caregiving in which the original parental caregiver is implied she gives the first phone to start with and it is (as Winnicott's transitional object) the first object (of value) possessed by the child!
  19. 19. 19 phenomenology of the smart another track: affective computing next wearable smart devices will probably use sensors (and software) to analyze our emotional states Picard 1995: a wearable affective (“sentic”) intelligent agent a logic of service: smarter because emotion sensitive enhancing the m-device by enhancing the range and depth of its interface with the self ≠ humanizing the machine in giving it emotional states
  20. 20. 20 phenomenology of the smart time the dual time of Technosapiens existence 1) r-time, real physical time 2) e-time, the time of digital networks and flows the smartphone is the tool for the coordination of everyday life by interweaving these two timelines (Ling 2004 chap. 4; Ling & Campbell 2009) the management of appointments and coordinate activities is now informal and real-time, a deep change in our experience of social time frequent situation: management of a dual conversation, one online (texting) and one IRL
  21. 21. 21 phenomenology of the smart space and location not an “avatar” in a “Second Life” but proximal infosphere a body in the real life, with a connection device in hand, pocket or bag the point of presence of the self in the digital flows is embodied in the hybrid self+smartphone in a complex environment the prefixes saga: e- for electronic, m- for mobile, u- for ubiquitous ubiquitous computing community: a “smart world”, largest dimension of the smart (Ma et al. 2005) “ambient intelligence” of u-computing: a moral environment (Verbeek 2011 chap. 6)
  22. 22. 22 phenomenology of the smart location-dependent services: service + surveillance (THE problem) being situated in e-space means inseparably (1) access to smart services (2) integral surveillance by the network the debate seems to be more about “how to adapt” than about “how to change”
  23. 23. 23 phenomenology of the smart the others (humans) proximal infosphere: remote presence of/with the others Ling & Donner 2009: 143 “the real-time social sphere” which others? every known person is in one's smartphone directory (including the list of not-to-answer numbers) but daily text communication is with a small set, a proximal e-friends circle, 3 or 4 persons maximum m-presence is somewhere between presence (IRL) and e- presence (email and skype)
  24. 24. 24 self and the smart ethical relevance danger #1: surveillance data-privacy is the most important issue of networked communication, including smart (Ess 2009) the Prism disclosure (June 2013) has alerted even the under-informed citizens a new ontology in the interface self/world and self/others (self/institutions): data ⇒ how to take the service without the (total) surveillance? a collective/public management issue, not a market self- regulating wishful mechanism current confrontation between dominating new economy corporations and nearly powerless nation-states or federations (E.U.)
  25. 25. 25 self and the smart why no privacy self-protection, or so few? facts: on micro-blogging and (friends-)locating systems, people volunteer to disclose and transmit detailed and permanent news about their location and activities, states of mind, what they “like”, and so on a deal to benefit in return from smart services (share usable information) Mitcham 1997: 116: “The panopticon is no longer a danger, it is a toy” facts: a lot of phones without access password (tragic when the phone is stolen, or peeped into by partner or parents) because the phone is intimate, it is part of me, it is my memory no password between me and my personal memory a password would remind every time that it is nor part of me, but an outer-world object, and that it can be stolen, intruded, at any time: unpleasant, and even frightening
  26. 26. 26 self and the smart addiction or empowerment? danger #2: addiction hypothesis: the flow is what is addictive as with TV-watching hypnosis FOMO syndrome, Fear Of Missing Out (Turkle 2011) the most important activity (during a family meal or a class) can be texting or reading an email, the self is more present in this distant relationship and activity than in its physical space-time + reverse FOMO: what is missed is the real-life conversation! how to take the empowerment without the addiction? → self-care, “technology of the self” (Foucault 1994) →
  27. 27. 27 self and the smart the last Foucault: “technologies of the self” (Dorrestijn 2012) smart selfware is today's technology of the self discipline or nudge? smart self-nudge? example of self-discipline, with digital and network assistance: the “quantified self” movement a Foucault like self-care ambiguity: constituting oneself as a self from the inside of a controlling environment and by using its tools outsmarting the smart?
  28. 28. 28 references AGAR Jon, 2003, Constant touch: A global history of the mobile telephone, Cambridge, UK, Icon Books BORGMANN Albert, 1984, Technology and the character of contemporary life: A philosophical inquiry, Chicago U.P. BOWLBY John, 1969, Attachment and loss, London: The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations CLARK Andy, 2003, Natural-born cyborgs: Minds, technologies, and the future of human intelligence, Oxford U.P. DORRESTIJN Steven, 2012, The design of our own lives: Technical mediation and subjectivation after Foucault, University of Twente, PhD Thesis, October 2012, http://members.tele2.nl/s.dorrestijn/downloads/Dorrestijn_Design_our_own_lives.pdf ESS Charles, 2009, Digital media ethics, Cambridge: Polity Press FOUCAULT Michel, 1994, Dits et écrits II, 1976-1988, Paris: Gallimard (Quarto, 2001) GLOTZ Peter, BERTSCHI Stefan, LOCKE Chris (eds), 2005, Thumb culture: Meaning of mobiles phones for society, Bielefeld: Transcript GOFFMAN Erving, 1959, The presentation of self in everyday life, New York: Anchor Books, 1959 GOGGIN Gerard, 2006, Cell phone culture: Mobile technology in everyday life, London: Routledge HAWK Byron, RIEDER David M., OVIEDO Ollie (eds), 2008, Small tech: The culture of digital tools, University of Minnesota Press HICKMAN Larry, A., 1988, "The phenomenology of the quotidian artefact", in : DURBIN P.T. (ed), Technology and contemporary life, Dordrecht:Reidel, 1988, 161-176 IHDE Don, 2001, Bodies in technology, Minneapolis, Mn: University of Minnesota Press IHDE Don, 2010, Embodied technics, Automatic Press KATZ James E. (ed), 2008, Handbook of mobile communication studies, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press LING Rich, CAMPBELL Scott W., 2009, The reconstruction of space and time: Mobile communication practices, New Brunswick (N.J.): Transaction LING Rich, DONNER Jonathan, 2009, Mobile communication, Cambridge: Polity LING Richard Seyler, 2004, The mobile connection: The cell phone's impact on society, Amsterdam: Elsevier MA Jianshua, YANG L. T., APDUHAN B. O., HUANG R., BAROLLI L.,TAKIZAWA M., 2005, "Towards a smart world and ubiquitous intelligence: A walkthrough from smart things to smart hyperspaces and UbicKids", International Journal of Pervasive Computing and Communications, 1(1), 2005, 53-68 - http://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/5354361/towards-a-smart- world-and-ubiquitous-intelligence-a-walkthrough- MITCHAM Carl, 1997, Thinking ethics in technology: Hennebach lectures and papers, 1995-1996, Colorado School of Mines OKSMAN Virpi, RAUTIAINEN Pirjo, 2002, "'Perhaps it is a body part': How the mobile phone became an organic part of the everyday lives of Finnish children and adolescents", in Machines that become us, Katz J. (ed), New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers PICARD Rosalind, 1995, "Affective computing", M.I.T Media Laboratory Perceptual Computing Section Technical Report No. 321 - http://affect.media.mit.edu/pdfs/95.picard.pdf RHEINGOLD Howard, 2002, Smart mobs: The next social revolution, Cambridge, Mass, Perseus Publishing TURKLE Sherry, 2011, Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other, Basic Books VERBEEK Peter-Paul, 2011, Moralizing technology: Understanding and designing the morality of things, University of Chicago Press WINNICOTT Donald W., 1971, Playing and reality, London: Routledge, 1971 WU Tim, 2011, The Master Switch: The rise and fall of information empires, New York: Alfred A. Knopf ZITTRAIN Jonathan, 2009, The future of the Internet: And how to stop it, Yale University Press
  29. 29. 29 more contact: michel.puech@paris-sorbonne.fr this presentation and other (free) stuff: http://michel.puech.free.fr