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Technologies in medicine and their impact on human self-understanding

Technologies in medicine are as diverse as they are pervasive: They serve as communication tools between the different actors, serve as cost-cutting techniques to drive efficiency or automate processes within the health system, and sometimes help establishing norms and new ways of healthy living.  Perhaps most importantly for patients and physicians, technologies in medicine are used as tools to increase our knowledge about illnesses, in order to achieve therapeutic outcomes and improve diagnostics. Thus, technology impacts people and, through use, people in turn redefine and develop technology.

We analyse the impact of technologies used in medicine on human self-understanding from different perspectives: from the ethical-philosophical perspectives to technology assessment, as well as from the social and political science angle.

We focus on a broad spectrum of technologies: primarily therapeutic ones, like neurotechnologies (e.g. deep brain stimulation for Parkinson´s disease), body-enhancing technologies (e.g. cosmetic surgery) or machine learning applications supporting decision-making in diagnostics.

Our approach is manifold: we investigate the broader impact of technology, from short-term effects of technologies in use, to the analysis of future scenarios. The leading question is: What is the historical, current and foreseeable impact of technologies in medicine on human self-understanding?

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