Three philosophical perspectives on the relation between technology and society, and how they affect the current debate about artificial intelligence

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Three philosophical perspectives on the relation between technology and society are distinguished and discussed: 1) technology as an autonomous force that determines society; 2) technology as a human construct that can be shaped by human values, and 3) a co-evolutionary perspective on technology and society where neither of them determines the other. The historical evolution of the three perspectives is discussed and it is argued that all three are still present in current debates about technological change and how it may affect society. This is illustrated for the case of Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is argued that each of the three perspectives contributes to the debate of AI but that the third has the strongest potential to uncover blind spots in the current debate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-511
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Affairs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Technology
  • artificial intelligence
  • co-evolution
  • philosophy
  • society
  • technological determinism
  • values

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