Being Transformed & Transferred through Technology

In this dialogue, Gaymon and I examine the question of how technology is shaping our identities and the way we relate its use to life, ourselves, and others around us. We talk about the importance of ‘space and place’ to make us grounded, and the power of imagination which can help us see what is possible in relation to moving us forward. 

Dr. Bennett’s work is a cross-sectional approach using technology, science, religion, and history; concepts that don’t necessarily come together in most settings and often are considered as contradictory to one another. In his book “Technicians of Human Dignity”, he examines the figure of human dignity in the 20th century. 

Technology was once considered an accessible tool in our hands to facilitate our lives. Over time, it has evolved to become a dominant force and lens through which we make meaning of our everyday lives. It has impacted the way we perceive, receive, and interpret the world around us, to then determine our state of being in the world. In a hopeful twist, we talk about a sense of agency, how the pandemic is changing the way we relate to technology, and how it is once again redefining the use of a tool that could serve us versus an intrusive one. 

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About Professor Gaymon Bennett

Gaymon Bennett is associate professor of religion, science, and technology at Arizona State University. He works on the problem of modernity in contemporary religion and biotechnology: its shifting moral economies, contested power relations, and uncertain modes of subjectivity. His book “Technicians of Human Dignity” (Fordham 2016) examines the figure of human dignity in 20th century international and religious politics and its current biopolitical reconfigurations. His co-authored book “Designing Human Practices: An Experiment with Synthetic Biology” (with P. Rabinow, Chicago, 2012) chronicles an anthropological experiment in ethics with engineers reimagining the boundary of biology and computation. And his co-authored “Sacred Cells? Why Christians Should Support Stem Cell Research” (with T. Peters and K. Lebacqz, Rowman & Littlefield, 2008) critically engages the early days of stem cell research and the unwitting role of religion in the secularization of life.

Gaymon has conducted multiple experiments in cross-disciplinary collaboration with contemporary biologists and bioengineers. He is a fellow of the Institute for the Future of Innovation in Society, and an affiliate faculty member wtih the Center for Jewish Studies, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at ASU. He is a co-founder and fellow of the Center for Biological Futures in the division of basic sciences at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He is also a principal of ARC [Anthropological Research on the Contemporary] and was a founding co-designer of the Human Practices Initiative at the multi-university Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC). He led Human Practices at the International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology (BIOFAB) at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. These experiments emphasize collaborative empirical inquiry, a shift from theory to shared concept work, and sustained attention to the culture and politics of knowledge production.