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Philosophy, Hieroglyphics, and Technology

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Before the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, hieroglyphics were already regarded as information, even if their semantics were beyond the comprehension of any interpreter. The discovery of an interface between Greeks and Egyptians did not affect the related semantics, but rather its accessibility. So, contrary to popular belief, we may have reached the information age long ago.

The shift from an analogue to a digital world and the rapid development of information technologies are changing every aspect of our lives ranging from education to politics. In our digital age, information seems to refer to power. As information technologies influence major aspects of our lives, they start affecting the causes, effects, and solutions of today’s problems. In a talk in April 2010, Bill Gates asked “whether the brightest minds are working on the most important problems.” 

Philosophy is something that needs to be done to make the world a better place rather than something to get rid of. The brightest philosophical minds can contribute insights and visions, analyses and syntheses, theories and critiques, questions and answers to solve these problems.

Furthermore, information technologies profoundly affect how we understand the world. Therefore, if philosophers are to help enable humanity to make sense of our world, information needs to be a significant field of philosophical study.

What philosophy can offer to contemporary debates that involve the concept of information, whether we discuss the intelligence of computers or the makeup of the universe, is clarity about how to ask the right questions so that answers are possible and useful. 

Today, we are slowly accepting the idea that we are not at the center of the growing “infosphere” that surrounds us because we are not the only smart agents able to carry out complex tasks. Our computers are often better than we are at dealing with information. 

Information has arisen as a concept as fundamental and important as being, knowledge, life, intelligence, meaning, and good and evil — all concepts with which it is interdependent, and so equally worthy of autonomous investigation. This is why philosophy may explain and guide the purposeful construction of our intellectual environment and provide the systematic treatment of the conceptual foundations of contemporary society.

In our digital age, philosophy can be presented as the study of the informational activities that make possible the construction, conceptualization, and also the moral stewardship of reality, both natural and artificial, both physical and anthropological. It promises to be one of the most beneficial areas of philosophical research in our time.

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Ayse Kok
Ayse completed her masters and doctorate degrees at both University of Oxford (UK) and University of Cambridge (UK). She participated in various projects in partnership with international organizations such as UN, NATO, and the EU. She also served as an adjunct faculty member at Bogazici University in her home town Turkey. Furthermore, she is the editor of several international journals, including IEEE Internet of Things Journal, Journal of Network & Computer Applications (Elsevier), Journal of Information Hiding and Multimedia Signal Processing...etc. She has also played the role of the guest editor of several international journals of IEEE, Springer, Wiley and Elsevier Science. She attended various international conferences as a speaker and published over 100 articles in both peer-reviewed journals and academic books. Moreover, she is one of the organizing chairs of several international conferences and member of technical committees of several international conferences. In addition, she is an active reviewer of many international journals as well as research foundations of Switzerland, USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. Having published 3 books in the field of technology & policy, Ayse is a member of the IEEE Communications Society, member of the IEEE Technical Committee on Security & Privacy, member of the IEEE IoT Community and member of the IEEE Cybersecurity Community. She also acts as a policy analyst for Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research. Currently, she lives with her family in Silicon Valley and works for Google in Mountain View.

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