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Philosophy, Technology and Morality – A Volatile Combination?

Tonight’s Linus Pauling Lecture series will host Dr. Shannon Vallor, Chair of the Philosophy at Santa Clara Univ. in Silicon Valley. Her talk focuses on techno-morality.

By John Blyler, Editorial Director

I’m looking forward to tonight’s lecture and interview with Dr. Shannon Vallor on the impact of technology on morality. She is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley, as well as President of the international Society for Philosophy and Technology. The lecture is part of the Linus Pauling series.

During the interview, I plan to ask her an abbreviated version of these questions:

  1. Tonight, your topic in the Linus Pauling Lecture series is titled, “Techno-Morality: A Survival Guide for Advanced Species.” Part of your talk will be on media multitasking habits (gaming, TV, FB?) that seem to have shortened our cognitive and perhaps moral attention. This is particularly important to me as technology publishers are being devaluated in part due to the glut of content on the internet. The overabundance of content has lead to (what some call) the collapse of the attention economy. In either case, “attention” deficient seems to be the key phrase. My question: Why is moral attention important?
  2. As president of the International Society for Philosophy and Technology (SPT), you currently have a call for papers on digital evidence. One of the topic categories caught my eye, namely, “the impact of digital evidence on scientific research standards and practices.” What are some of those potential impacts?
  3. On your website, you have a picture of a package listed as “Robot Emotions.” In particular, you have the circuit package for “Schadenfreude,” which is the pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune. What’s that about?
  4. Last year, you wrote a paper for “Philosophy and Technology” titled: Moral Deskilling and Upskilling in a Machine Age. In the paper, you explore the impact of new information and communication technologies on the cultivation of moral skill for human beings. As an example, you note how the machine automation age resulted in an economic devaluation for machinists, artisans, etc., while driving the need for new skills in engineering and white collar occupations. Will the future result in economic devaluation for engineering professionals as systems become more standardized? In short, will the technical community become deskilled in the future as artisans have been in the past?

Look for the video of this interview in the near future. Cheers – John


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