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Featured Interview: Anna Puzio


Dr. Anna Puzio ( is a philosopher, theologian, and ethicist working in the ESDiT Research Programme (Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies) at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. Her research areas include anthropology, anthropology and ethics of technology, and environmental ethics.

Dr. Puzio studied Catholic theology and German language and literature at the University of Münster in Germany. She completed her doctorate in philosophy in the anthropology of transhumanism and the ethics of future technologies at the Munich School of Philosophy in 2021, examining in her dissertation how the understanding of the human being and the body changes with the use of technologies. Her dissertation has been published as Uber People: Philosophical Examination of the Anthropology of Transhumanism.

After working and researching in Münster, Munich, Frankfurt am Main, and Vienna, Dr. Puzio is now conducting research on the ethics of robots, religious robots, and new approaches in anthropology and environmental ethics at the University of Twente. She is a founder of neth:KI, the Network for Theology and AI, which is creating a new book series to be found at this link.


David Brenner (“DB”), board chair of AI&F, interviewed Dr. Puzio (“AP”) for our Newsletter.

DB: We’re delighted to have the opportunity to explore your research and interest in theology and socially disruptive technology, Dr. Puzio. Anthropology – the study of humans; Theology, the study of the divine; Ethics of Technology – how to do right and not wrong with technology – those are a great combination! How and why did these three disciplines come together for you as the focus of your college and graduate school studies, and now as you work in academia?

AP: I have always been very interested in the question of the human being. In the context of technologization, this question now becomes particularly relevant. Numerous anthropological and ethical questions arise. What it means to be human is negotiated in distinction to the machine. How do humans and machines differ in terms of intelligence, emotions and autonomy? The understanding of the human being and the body are being changed in the process of technologization.

For theology it is important to deal with the anthropology of technology and with the changes in the understanding of the body and the human being.

In my research, I am particularly interested in the relationship of humans to non-human entities such as animals and robots. How do they differ from us and what is our relationship with them?

DB: Our editorial focus in April is how AI is interacting with human physical and mental health. Your doctoral research focused on the anthropology of transhumanism, and more recently you have written on the foundational distinctions between transhumanism and “body optimization. How do you distinguish those two, and what is important to you about that distinction?

AP: I have investigated how the understanding of the human being and the body is changed by technology and which understandings of the human being are transported in technologies.

To do this, I first examined transhumanism. Transhumanism is a philosophical-technological movement in the English-speaking world with its own organization and institutions that aims to radically change human beings through new technologies. Transhumanism strives, for example, for life extension of several hundred years, immortality, mind uploading (a speculative vision: the uploading of mind onto a hard disk/computer), brain modifications, new sensory abilities and worlds of experience, cognitive and physical enhancement.

The argumentation and anthropology of transhumanism have turned out to be problematic. Nevertheless, I consider further anthropological discussion of body enhancement to be important. Therefore, in the last part of the book, I examined body optimization in contemporary society, which differs from that of transhumanism. For a long time, humans have been changing their bodies through various means. Today, wearables such as smartwatches, fitness apps and body hacking are used to optimize the body.

DB: In your writing, you note some serious concerns with the underlying assumptions of “mainstream transhumanism” (if you will) for our understanding of ourselves as integrated beings, living in social relationships and with various frailties and disabilities. Could you summarize those concerns and indicate if you believe it is nevertheless worthwhile to continue to study current transhumanist concepts?

AP: Initially, I hoped to find in transhumanism some approaches for contemporary anthropology. However, in the course of the investigation, the argumentation structures turned out to be very problematic and the statements of transhumanism on the human being proved to be reductionist. Transhumanism pretends to refer to the natural sciences, but contradicts current scientific knowledge. For example, the whole human being is reduced to its genes or its brain. According to transhumanist argumentation, there are ‘good genes’ and ‘bad genes’ and if you simply cut out the bad genes, it results in a better human being – but it is not that easy. The human being as a psychosomatic unit, social relationships, empirical findings, and life-world experiences, the plurality of human understandings are also not taken into account. In addition, people with disabilities, women and older people are discriminated against.

Nevertheless, the debate on transhumanism is very relevant, as transhumanism has a public impact and provides answers to social questions and the various needs for orientation that arise in the context of new technologies. In addition, many transhumanist ideas also find their way into the discourse on technology outside of transhumanism, in cases such as mind-uploading.

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