Technology and its blind spot in political thinking

Since a few years, the term ‘technocracy’ has made a comeback in political discourse, indicating the current economic order as an outcome of severely ideologically steered choices, instead of  being the result of necessity, objectivity and pragmatism – the garments in which spokesmen of this order like to present it.

All the while, another society-shaping force seems to be commonly taken for granted as a result of pragmatism and necessity: new technology. Political views criticizing neoliberal policies usually suffer no less from naive instrumental views on technology as right-wing parties do. The rise of robotics taking jobs, for example, is passively met by left political parties with proposals for accommodative policies, instead of proposing different scenarios.
In a contribution to DIEM25 our speakers will dig up a  truism within the academic field of Science and Technology Studies (STS): that technology has politics too. In other arenas however, the political character of technology is persistently denied. However, technologies entangle and entrap us, and in this manner they are far from being simple means to an end. Technology can fundamentally change who we are in ways that no politician would be able to.


– (dr. ir.) Martijntje Smits is an engineer and a philosopher of technology. She wrote a PhD on  Taming Monsters – the cultural domestication of technology. She works as a researcher and lecturer  for several universities and she is dedicated to the aim of enlarging  the political imagination of new technologies like robotics and smart grids.
(Dr.) Maikel Kuijpers holds a PhD from Cambridge university and is currently a lecturer in European Prehistory at the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University. His main research topics are technology, craftsmanship, and skill which he explores both in archaeology as well as contemporary society

Date and time: 30th of March 2017 at 19.30h

Location: University of Amsterdam. Roeterseiland building B/C. Room B.5.12 (5th floor): Common Room Anthropology department.