Peter-Paul Verbeek, Distinguished Professor at the University of Twente, was appointed chairman of UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST). Hij already was one of the 18 members of this worldwide network of experts studying ethical issues related to science and technology. The prestigious appointment matches UT’s ‘people-first’ approach to new technology development.
The experts of COMEST advise on topics like Internet of Things, robotics and artificial intelligence: developments that not only change our lives in an irreversible way but also touch the nature of humanity. This interwovenness of humanity, technology and society is typically the field of research of Peter-Paul Verbeek. He has been a COMEST member for four years now, and will be chairing the commission for two years.
In 2018, Verbeek was appointed Distinguished Professor, enabling him to strengthen UT’s ‘high tech human touch’ profile, integrating technology and social sciences. One of the platforms he uses for this, is DesignLab, of which he is one of the founders and scientific directors. In UT’s ‘Shaping 2030’ plans, the university chooses a people-firstapproach towards technology development: with an open attitude as a starting point, new technology is developed that sustainably serves the need of individuals and of society as a whole. As COMEST chair, Verbeek can put this approach in a global perspective, including the cultural aspects that may play a role. By doing so, he can add very valuable input to further developments of UT’s plans for the future.
Professor Peter-Paul Verbeek (1970), Distinguished Professor of Philosophy of Technology, is in high demand as an ethics advisor. Apart from COMEST, he is in the board of Dutch Rathenau Institute, the Programme Council for Responsible Innovation of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Supervisory Board of TNO. He is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).
This communication was first published 10 July 2019 by the University of Twente.