Internet of Things: Philosophy, York

3rd - 5th July 2014
York St John University, Lord Mayors Walk, York, UK, YO31 7EX
York St John University, in partnership with Rob Van Kranenburg and Joachim Walewski are proud to present the 1st conference on the Philosophy of the Internet of Things. This conference is organised in response to the growing debate surrounding the Internet of Things and its potential impact upon society. The conference seeks to open up dialogue regarding the impact of the Internet of Things upon everyday life and provides a space for thinkers and innovators to critically examine, theorise, and debate the social, political, ethical, epistemic, ontological and civic ramifications of these new technologies.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is an umbrella term used to describe a next step in the evolution of the Internet. While the first phase of the web can be thought of as a combination of an internet of hyper-text documents and an internet of applications (think blogs, online email, social sites, etc.), one of the next steps is an Internet of augmented ‘smart’ objects – or ‘things’ – being accessible to human beings and each other over network connections. This is the internet of Things.
Underpinning the development of the Internet of Things is the ever increasing proliferation of networked devices in everyday usage. Such devices include laptops, smart phones, fridges, smart meters, RFIDs, etc. The number of devices in common usage is set to increase worldwide from the current level of 4.5 billion to 50 billion by 2050 and may even include human implants.
By dint of the above, life as we know it on the planet will undergo a multitude of minuscule but  incredibly significant changes that will alter not only how we relate to each other and the world, but also how we conceive of ourselves as beings within it.  This situation proposes a pressing question: do we want to simply leave market forces to shape our reality? Or is there a deeper need, given the significance of this technology, to consider its ramifications within a philosophical context? For as computational devices become ever more central to how we relate to and interface with each other, so too do they begin to create new systems of power relations between people. To create a system of power is to impose a social dynamic. The design and deployment of the Internet of Things is thus not simply a matter of software/hardware architecture but also of politics; ethics; belief; citizenship; and social and civic relations. It is to this end of examining these issues more deeply that we are convening this conference.

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