Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lunch Chat (11/13): Engineering and Philosophy

Thursday (11/13) at noon in the Willard-Smith Library (125 Vaughan Lit)

We live in a world that is increasingly defined by technology. From the food we eat to the energy that we use we rely on a technological infrastructure that is largely hidden from view. Although we rely on this infrastructure on a daily basis, we often only notice its absence, the rare times that it becomes visible through failure.

This infrastructure and many of technologies that utilize this infrastructure are built and maintained by engineers, a group whose definition as a profession goes back about one century in the United States. Despite the large effect engineers have on everyday life they are largely invisible in modern culture. Can you name five famous artists? Five famous scientists? What about five famous engineers?

Professor Alan Cheville
Professor Alan Cheville, the T. Jefferson Miers Chair of Electrical Engineering, will join us on Thursday to talk about the ethics of modifying the world for our own ends, what mandate one needs to modify the world others live in, and what it means to "engineer". This is not a new conversation since the virtue of techne, the Greek root of technology goes back at least to Aristotle. Yet in a world in which human survival relies increasingly on engineered systems, an discussion of the philosophical underpinnings of engineering is important to engage in.

As usual, pizza and salad will be served. Hope to see you there.