Perceptual Order in Natural and Built Environments

This concern is, in fact, a pressing one, because discussions of this issue have tended to emphasize the disparateness of the sorts of order manifested by the natural environment and the built environment. The latter is characterized often as possessing a functional order, given that it is composed of elements whose salient feature is their function in some aspect of human life. For example, the appreciation of the visual order in a streetscape, referred to earlier, is thought to take shape...

Towards a New Species

With current technological and scientific breakthroughs, artifacts are being aligned much closer to the human body and even being merged with it. The resultant cyborgs2 can take on any one of a number of forms, dependant on the balance between human and technological components. The case of cyborgs, part man part technology, shows very well the main values of our society, the direction it is heading in whilst acting according to these values, and the kind of new human or non human entity we are...

Designers and Technological Evolution

What, according to these three evolutionary theories of technology, is the nature of engineering design I will start with answering this question for Basalla's and Mokyr's theories, which, unlike Aunger's, construe technological change as dependent on the conscious deliberation and foresight of human agents. On their view, then, evolutionary processes are not necessarily blind, and the design of technology is part of an evolutionary process while simultaneously involving foresight by designers....

Design Paradigms in Personal Robotics

We can see two distinct design paradigms forming in the burgeoning personal robotics industry. For the sake of discussion I will call them the 'effective' and the 'affective' design paradigms. For example, American and European robotics companies have largely focused on very utilitarian, or effective, implementations of robotics technologies by building robotic vacuum cleaners, lawnmowers, and 1 Data acquired here 2 Robonexus is a consumer trade show (http www.robonexus.com index.html) and...

The Growth of Robotics and Personal Freedom

The growth of the personal robotics market is showing signs of mirroring the early growth of personal computers. While this market is nowhere near as large as that of the personal computer, it is as large as that of traditional industrial robotics, and it is growing quickly. According to studies by the Japan Robotics Association, the United Nations Economic Commission, and the International Federation of Robotics, the personal and service robotics market is already equal to that of industrial...

Design Philosophy for Personal Robotics Technology

Abstract Small robotic appliances are beginning the process of home automation. Following the lead of the affective computing movement begun by Professor Rosalind Picard in 1995 at the MIT Media lab, roboticists have also begun pursuing affective robotics, robotics that uses simulated emotions and other human expressions and body language to help the machine better interact with its users. Here I will trace the evolution of this design philosophy and present arguments that critique and expand...

Architecture and Engineering

A brief comparison of architects and engineers may help to shed light on the processes that architects employ, and how they have changed. To a large extent, this discussion deals with normative practice, and not the practice of architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright or engineers such as John Augustus Roebling, who deliberately bucked normative rules. But even such heroic figures could not completely escape them. It is the difference in the nature of the product that is often seen to define the...

Affective Robotic Design in America and Europe 51 Sociable Robots at MIT

There is also a desire to build robotic companions on the other side of the Pacific. Some of the most interesting work on this subject has come out of the Robotic Life group headed by Cynthia Breazeal in the MIT Media Lab.4 Breazeal was a student of the revolutionary roboticist Rodney Brooks, and she has taken the maverick milieu Brooks brought to the AI lab at MIT and run with it in fascinating new directions. The robots created by this lab so far have garnered a great deal of media attention...

The Concept of General Design

There is no canonical conceptual framework that allows us to deal equally well with the different sorts of design that are related to different classes of functionally organized entities. I aim for a unified rather than a separating view it seems to be plausible that, if we have three or four classes in which function and design go together in a similar way, then a commonality on the conceptual level can be expected. If we do not rely on such commonalities, we forego the chance to learn from...

Elements of the Design of a Society

When considering well-defined socio-technical systems, we may be dealing with almost completely designed entities. The matter changes when the scope is widened to encompass larger sociological entities such as whole societies. Again, artifacts are important components of these systems but we need to determine how far the design of technical artifacts co-designs a society. The concept of general design singles out two ways in which design determines a complex system type fixation of its...

On Our Way to the Post Human

Human genetic enhancement is often defined as the manipulation of genes in order to improve what are seen as normal human characteristics - physical, psychological, intellectual, and moral - beyond what is necessary to restore or sustain good health. This enhancement can be attempted through either somatic modifications - thus affecting only the particular individual undergoing the intervention - or germ-line I. de Melo-Mart n, Weill Cornell Medical College or inheritable genetic modification -...

Systems and Design

In his 1893 essay, Evolution and Ethics, T. H. Huxley (2002 orig. 1896 ) considers the difference between a jungle and a garden in his exploration of the mechanisms of evolution. Today, with developments in evolutionary theories and the broad establishment of environmental studies, the difference between a jungle and a garden may seem obvious or even trivial. I think the distinction is well worth revisiting, however, because it holds implications that are vital to understanding how the world...

The Explanatory Rendering

Educating decision makers so that they may make informed choices is an intention consistent with pragmatism. This observation is not to claim that Behnisch has consciously adopted American pragmatism as a philosophical foundation for design, only that their attitude toward the design process is consistent with that articulated by Dewey, Rorty, and others. For example, Dewey regularly argued that the role of professionals in society is not to make choices for citizens, but to educate them to...

Soviet National Missile Defense

Sparked by a 1953 joint letter from seven Soviet Marshals recommending a national missile defense (NMD), the Soviet Politburo approved their first plan for NMD in 1954. This plan, implemented in stages, adapted the SA-1 surface-to-air missile (SAM) in an anti-ballistic-missile (ABM) role, and developed the Sary Shagan missile test range, the Triad targeting radar and the Hen House phased-array radar. Among the achievements of this first Soviet NMD program was the successful 1961 interception of...

References

Amundson, R., and Lauder, G., 1994, Function without purpose the uses of causal role function in evolutionary biology, Biol. and Phil. 9 443-469. Bell, C., 1913, Art, Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York. Berleant, A., 2005, The wilderness city a study of metaphorical experience, in Aesthetics and Environment Variations on a Theme, Ashgate, Burlington, VT. Budd, M., 2002, The Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature Essays on the Aesthetics of Nature, Oxford University Press, Oxford. Carlson, A.,...

The Dominant Narrative

It is often assumed that engineering and architecture share some conditions of practice but remain inherently different in nature. On this view, engineers make things that work and architects order space, giving visual expression to the built environment. What is common is that both engineers and architects design for material production by others, in response to assignments originating from a third party. Particularly in large projects the third party, or client, is actually a collection of...

Case Study Charting Instumentalization of a House Construction System

Today, nearly 90 of North American houses are built using one method of wood construction (see figure 2). Now, it is probably the predominant practice in the world, displacing indigenous methods of wood construction in places with rich Fig. 1 The hybrid cycle applied to the development of the balloon frame construction system Fig. 2 Raising the framed walls of the balloon frame. 1941. (Alfred T. Palmer, photographer, 1941, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA OWI...

Function and Functionality

In this chapter the concept of functionality is added to that of function, usability to that of use, and intentioned to that of intention. Engineers and most twentieth-century technologies have demonstrated that problematizing function is an effective way of operating. They do so by reducing the definition of function efficiently to solve the problem at hand. Broader consequences are unintentional and left unimagined. Rather than expanding the definition of function, this chapter argues for a...

List of Contributors

Philip Brey is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Twente and director of its Centre for Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Science. He is also a member of the board of the Society for Philosophy and Technology and the International Society for Ethics and Information Technology. His research focuses on philosophy of technology, and particularly on the philosophy and ethics of information technology. Ted Cavanagh is an architect with a doctorate in the history of...

Sprawl

Over the last 75 years, cities in the United States have sprawled. The growth of population explains about 31 percent of the growth in land area of US urban areas in the last 20 years. Even those areas that experienced no population growth have increased in urbanized land area by an average of 18 percent (Ewing et al., 2000). Data collected by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for its State of the Cities 2000 report show that urban areas are expanding at about twice the rate...

Instrumentalization of the Wood Frame

Interestingly, Feenberg (1999) uses houses and construction as examples of richly signified technical artifacts - an area of fruitful philosophical analysis. And again The tree conceived as lumber, and eventually cut down, stripped of bark and chopped into boards, is encountered for its usefulness rather than for its manifold interconnections with its environment and the other species with which it normally coexists. The history of wood construction in North America can be approximated by three...

Resisting an Elective Affinity for Positivism in Technological Development

Starting with technical and techno-social balance and a dual nature of artifacts as both physical and intentional, this chapter has parsed design into production, appropriation, and consumption and has distinguished function from functionality, use from usability and commented on the discourse about intention. This is based in experience teaching design in architecture, a field with a holistic design approach that includes technical and social parameters. Though architectural design is...

Intention and Intentioned

Now that I have questioned a distinction made in philosophical studies by introducing a double aspect of design intent, namely function and functionality and have suggested that even users are to some degree designers I would like to suggest that the term intentioned could capture the contemporary post-modern attitude that designs for functionality and usability. This suggests a thick notion of intention. Of course, this does not assume that a design can anticipate all unintended consequences,...

Conclusion

In this chapter, I aimed to examine whether the evolution of technical artifacts is radically different from the evolution of biological species, and whether designed artifacts are best explained as resulting from the purposive intelligence of designers or instead from a process akin to biological evolution. I discussed evolutionary theories of technology by George Basalla, Joel Mokyr, and Robert Aunger, and examined whether they qualified as genuinely evolutionary theories. I concluded that on...

Reconsidering Design in the Built Environment

Having made the claim that there is continuity between the aesthetic characters of the natural and built environments, I want to consider why it might be important to recognize this continuity, and its implications for our conception of urban design. One motivation for recognizing this continuity involves the fact, outlined in section 1, that, following the classic line of environmental thought, we often view the aesthetic appeal of nature as distinct from, and superior to, that of the built...

The Rise of Cyborgs a Desirable Goal

Abstract The idea that human beings are imperfect is very old. But now, for the first time in history, some people, mainly scientists, have the previously unimaginable power to modify human beings. Redesigning humankind is, generally speaking, the result of a techno-scientific complex called converging technologies, and made up of biotechnologies, information technologies, nanotechnologies and cognitive sciences. However, we are more concerned here with electronic devices directly implanted...

Robert Aungers Theory

Anthropologist Robert Aunger has developed an account of technological change within the context of memetics (Aunger, 2002). Memetics is an evolutionary approach to culture that was initially proposed by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins (1976). Dawkins claimed that culture might have its own evolutionary mechanism, separate from that of biological evolution, and that it is dependent on basic units of propagation similar to genes, which he called memes. A meme is the basic meaningful unit...

Joel Mokyrs Theory

Economic historian Joel Mokyr has presented an evolutionary theory of technology that does not focus on the evolution of artifacts, as in Basalla's theory, but on the evolution of technological knowledge (Mokyr, 1996 1998 1999 2000a b). More precisely, he has presented an evolutionary theory of techniques, or technological know-how, mirroring Gilbert Ryle's famous distinction between knowledge how and knowledge that. Mokyr is critical of evolutionary approaches that take artifacts as the unit...

Evolutionary Theories of Technology and Evolutionary Biology

In this section, I will briefly introduce contemporary evolutionary approaches to technology, after which I will analyze the conditions that must be met for a theory of technology to be genuinely evolutionary and the extent to which this requires adoption of central principles of evolutionary biology. Evolutionary theories of technology have gained in prominence since the 1980s. Such theories use concepts and analogies from evolutionary biology to explain technological change and innovation....

Architecture as a Modern Process

The architectural profession has changed dramatically since the nineteenth century. One way of describing this change is that the intuitive, artistic side, and the objective, technological side, have grown further and further apart. One reason this happened is that industrialization resulted in both the formalization of professions and the decline of craft traditions. This meant that the architect was put in the position of controlling the work of craftsmen who heretofore were not subject to...

Design of Socio Technical Systems and Functions of Artifacts

I have introduced the concept of general design with reference to technical artifacts and, as an example for the non-intentional case, to the design of biological organisms. Now the question is whether the concept may be applied at the level of 7 A more detailed account of this concept of design is given in Krohs (2004 2007). 8 There are many cases in which not all the parts of a designed entity are type-fixed. In addition to type-fixed components, such an entity may have property-determined...

Consequences of Explanation

In contrast to the conventional and critical renderings, the explanatory rendering pictured something more akin to an open-ended process than an artifact. Where Pelli and Hadid idealized the site context through stylized rendering techniques, Behnisch placed his building proposal in the messy context of a photograph. Where Pelli and Hadid sought to mobilize populist or elite tastes, Behnisch appealed to intelligence. And rather than seeking to close down conversation by satisfying aesthetic...

Three Objections

I would like to conclude by considering three objections to my claim that the aesthetics of cities and natural environments should not be thought of as diametrically opposed, but rather as bearing an important similarity. The first objection is that it is simply implausible to hold that nature and city are aesthetically alike. This thought could be reinforced by noting that, any functional analogy between the natural and the urban notwithstanding, these environments remain quite different at...

Process and the Work of Christopher Alexander

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the challenges faced by those who are responsible for making the built environment - architects and engineers included, among many others - are considerable. Buildings and cities are responsible, one way or the other, for the bulk of fossil-fuel consumption, as production levels off and begins to decline. Cities in developing countries continue to experience enormous population growth through births and in-migrations, most of it in slums and...

Shifting Boundaries

Let us return to engineering design, and to an analysis of its gradual development towards a model more like architectural design, as we identified it in the opening section of this introduction. In the 20th century the institutionalization of a rich variety of engineering design traditions and practices emerged. During the second half of the last century design practices gradually developed that focus on the material product of design and on the broader social system in which these products...

Design Spaces and Technical Codes

In all cases certain aspects of a device's design will vary depending on various sorts of demands while others will remain invariant. Those aspects that do not change include many that are invisible to the user, e.g., the type of components used, and others that have been standardized. What remains is a set of design possibilities -ways in which technical elements can be combined to create a workable device. We shall call this set of technically feasible possibilities the design space. It is...

George Basallas Theory

In his book The Evolution of Technology, historian of technology George Basalla presents an evolutionary theory of technological change that aims to explain technological innovation, including the emergence of novel artifacts, and the process by which society makes a selection between available artifacts (Basalla, 1988). Basalla considers his notion of technological evolution to be an analogy or metaphor. He claims Metaphors and analogies are at the heart of all extended analytical or critical...