ITSPmagazine Podcasts

On Disability, Technology, And Flourishing | With Joel M. Reynolds

Episode Summary

The project we talk about on this podcast is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and will explore how technologies can be used to promote or thwart flourishing through conversations with people with disabilities.

Episode Notes

I have been talking with so many people, for so long, about this new Talk Show that it almost feels like it is old news. By this, I do not mean that I am bored with it—quite the opposite—I mean that is it has become familiar and part of the core conversations we aim to have on ITSPmagazine. As a matter of fact, once I got to listen to this conversation, after a few months passed by, I got as excited about this first episode as much as I am apologetic to Joel for having let so much time go by between recording and airing time. 

Lots of positive things have happened to us since then, and I am glad that a much larger audience has joined us and can listen to this conversation. I am honored to be able to launch our new Talk Show, The Future Of The Future, with this first episode.

Our guest is Joel Michael Reynolds, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Rice Family Fellow in Bioethics and the Humanities The Hastings Center.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent federal agency of the U.S. government, established by the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965, dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.

People with disabilities are experts at navigating a world that is not built for them—often by turning to technologies such as voice recognition devices and cochlear implants. But which technologies, and under what circumstances, truly enhance a person’s ability to live the most meaningful, flourishing life? And which technologies, and in what cases, have the opposite effect?

The project we talk about on this podcast is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and will explore how technologies can be used to promote or thwart flourishing through conversations with people with disabilities.

The Art of Flourishing: Conversations on Disability and Technology will convene a series of six public events in New York City during 2019 to 2021, featuring a range of scholars, artists, writers, and thought leaders with disabilities to engage in conversation about how they use and why they refuse technology in their work and lives. Each conversation will focus on an art form, such as a dance or documentary, that explores how technology promotes or thwarts their flourishing and feeling at home in the world.

Erik Parens, a senior research scholar at The Hastings Center, is the director of the project. The co-director is our guest, Joel Michael Reynolds, and the chief project advisor is Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, a professor of English and bioethics at Emory University and a Hastings Center Fellow.

“In the past, many bioethicists have worried that emerging technologies could have the effect of narrowing the range of what is considered acceptable, or ‘normal,’ for humans, and thus pose a special threat to people with disabilities,” says Parens, “But emerging technologies also make it possible for some people with disabilities to flourish in ways they could not before. In this project, we will consider how emerging technologies can pose a threat and an opportunity for all of us—those who currently have disabilities and those who, through aging, if nothing else, will later in life.”

“From how we move and communicate to how we love and care, modern technology profoundly shapes nearly every facet of human life,” says Reynolds. “While proponents of technological advancement are typically confident in its benefits, expert users are typically far more ambivalent. How, whether, and which types of technology help us live not just life, but a good life is a pressing and vital question both for every individual and also for our society at large.

Guest(s)
Joel Michael Reynolds, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Rice Family Fellow in Bioethics and the Humanities The Hastings Center

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