Human-technology relations down to earth

Steven Dorrestijn, Saxion University of Applied Sciences
Wouter Eggink, University of Twente

Key words: Earth; Human-Technology Relations; Product Impact Tool

In the context of the environmental crisis and the Anthropocene the connections of us humans and our technical culture to earth/nature must be recognized as very important. After the technological flight of modernity it is time to land again, “down to earth”, so Bruno Latour. The shared challenge of design and philosophy is to find a new balance for nature, humans and technology.

Contemporary approaches in philosophy of technology have been framing technology as a quasi-natural condition of human existence. This comes to the fore in an exemplary way in the (otherwise very interesting) work of Dutch artist-philosopher Koen van Mensvoort. Humans produce a technosphere which finally becomes natural: technology as “next nature”. Does this mean an advanced understanding of technical mediation and the natural, or rather a forgetting of nature?

Thus, the present-day call for preservation of the earth against damaging technology is paradoxically complicated by the concurrent philosophical questioning of what nature and culture are. Therefore the challenge for current approaches of technical mediation is to avert such a forgetting of nature, and remain attached down to earth.

As a contribution to this task we will reconsider the place of earth/nature in our own “Product Impact Tool” as well as in the foundational postphenomenological framework of “human-technology-world relations”. How can earth/nature be explicitly added to these frameworks? We will discuss our exploration of models to embed humans and technology in nature.