chapter  1
15 Pages

Smart? Amsterdam urinals and autonomic computing

ByDON IHDE

When I first learned that the famous fly images in Amsterdam Airport urinals were examples of social-technological “nudging,” I was delighted. The example occurs in the book, Nudge, by the behavioral economist, Richard Thaler and law professor, Cass Sunstein (now Obama’s chief of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs) (New York Times 2009).1 That was because I frequently had earlier used the term “nudging” to indicate a non-deterministic mode of shifting directions or trajectories in human-technology relations. The other frequently used notion I had advised concerning the role of philosophers of technology in relation to socialtechnological process was that of sitting philosophers in “R & D-research and development” positions in order to have a “place” for “nudging” at design and development stages, rather than after technologies are already developed and “in place” (Ihde 2002: 103-12). Thus, hypothetically, I should be happy to deal with the theme of “autonomic computing,” a focal theme for this volume.