Keynote 25th Anniversary TILT in November by Robert Rosenberger

Date: Time: 16:00 Location: Blackbox, Esplanade building

The Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT) conducts teaching and research into the regulation of technologies and technology-related societal innovation. TILT is a prominent player on the national as well as the international level when it comes to research and education in this particular area. TILT is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a year full of keynotes, workshops and events. Every month will be devoted to a different theme, such as cybercrime, e-health, privacy and climate change.

Click here if you would like to find out about the theme of each month and the programming committee.

Keynote of the month

Each Month, an Internationally Renowned Professor Stays with Us and Gives a Keynote. Click here if you would like to find out more about the visiting professors in 2019. The visiting professor of the month in November will be Robert Rosenberger. Robert Rosenberger will give the Keynote Lecture. Please find the bio and abstract below:


Robert Rosenberger is an associate professor of philosophy in the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a key developer of “postphenomenology,” a philosophical perspective that provides deep descriptions of users’ experiences with technology. His work addresses topics such as Mars satellite imaging, computer-simulated educational frog dissection, and smartphone driver distraction. His recent book, Callous Objects: Designs Against the Homeless (Minnesota, 2017), explores how the things of our world are sometimes designed to push the homeless population out of shared public spaces. His co-edited books include Postphenomenological Investigations (Lexington, 2015) and the forthcoming Postphenomenology and Imaging.


Hostile Design: Philosophy, Architecture, and Policy

The design of public space is rarely an innocent matter. Rules and laws govern what may and may not be done in such spaces (and often, by extension, who is and is not welcome). Sometimes in accord with these laws and rules, the objects of public spaces are designed to deter certain behaviors. As a philosopher of technology, I’ve been working to identify—and sometimes to criticize—the patterns of design used to control public space.

I have developed these ideas within a theoretical perspective called “postphenomenology.” This perspective builds on the philosophical traditions of phenomenology and American pragmatism to understand how technologies shape people’s experience. I’ve been thinking about the many ways that objects in public spaces are used differently by different people, and then also how these same objects are sometimes redesigned by the powerful to close off particular spaces to particular populations.

A contemporary discussion over these issues—involving a disparate group of scholars across a range of disciplines—is now beginning to emerge, one that criticizes the control of public space through design, especially when already vulnerable populations are targeted. I’ve come to call this phenomenon “hostile design,” though other names are also in use, such as “hostile architecture,” “architectural exclusion,” and “defensive architecture.” In my talk for TILT, we’ll consider a variety of examples, from benches designed so that you can’t sleep on them, to garbage bins designed so that you can’t pick from them, to security cameras designed to be so conspicuous that you are intimidated into following the rules. How should we think about the politics and the epistemology of these kinds of technologies? And how should we account for the fact that people not targeted by these designs often fail to take notice of them?


15.45-16.00 - Coffee/tea
16.00-16.05 - Opening/Introduction
16.05-17.00 - Keynote
17.00-17.30 - Q&A
17.30-18.30 – Drinks in Esplanade