Delve into the ethical dimensions of emerging technologies with Matthias Braun, leading the chair of Social Ethics and Ethics of Emerging Technologies at the University of Bonn. Join us as we uncover his research journey, which addresses questions of justice, vulnerability, and political ethics in the realm of new technologies. Braun’s expertise extends to ethical and governance challenges posed by Digital Twins, Big Data, and AI in healthcare. Discover his mission to shift the focus from isolated technology debates to comprehensive discussions encompassing bodily integrity in digital worlds. Explore how technology shapes our lives, raising key challenges related to participation, distribution, and meaning attribution. Join the exploration of ethical frameworks and solutions that enable technology to pave the way for a better, more inclusive future.
Which wall does your research break?
Current debates about technology are often about how risky a technology is, what potential uses are seen, and how we will deal with technology in the future. In other words: We debate technology by focusing on the technology in question. Interestingly, this trend is also evident in the current legal and political debates: a lot is said about risk classes of individual technologies, but less about questions of the rights of individuals, human rights or even conditions of a good and successful life. This becomes very clear, using the example of the physical body: nobody can leave his body completely behind. We can change it, train it, optimize it, suffer from it, criticize it and still not get out of it. The body is therefore a central component of how living beings are in the world. One point at which this becomes particularly central is the question of bodily integrity in dealing with new technologies that can themselves take on a kind of embodiment. In current designs and debates about new technologies, this point is at best considered in passing. This is a wall that I would like to break down. That’s why one of my central research questions is: How can we think, understand, and protect bodily integrity in digital worlds as well?
What inspired or motivated you to work on your current research or project?
Technology is a central condition for a good life. People need technology to live, love, communicate, work and care. At the same time, however, there are key challenges in society’s use of technology. A) Technology changes and thus transforms the foundations of how people live together. These transformations need criteria to shape them well. B) Participation in and access to technology varies widely. The question is how technology can enable a greater degree of participation C) The benefits and risks of technology are unequally and unfairly distributed. How can a technology like AI be developed and regulated so that it does not discriminate or benefit only a few? D) Technology challenges our descriptions and techniques of classifying and attributing meaning. How can we think and develop new forms of meaning and meaning attribution? Exploring these questions and contributing to their answers totally motivates my team and me.
In what ways does society benefit from your research?
We try to better understand which criteria and concepts we can use to better analyze and describe the challenges of new technologies for societies. At the same time, we develop approaches to solutions and point out options for action in order to develop and use technology in such a way that it enables a good life for as many diverse individuals and groups as possible. In this context, one task of ethics is also to uncover and critically reflect on rash moral demands or conclusions. What the concrete benefit of this is, however, is often only seen when just such critical reflection is missing.