chapter  2
19 Pages

Subject to technology: on autonomic computing and human autonomy


Without too much exaggeration it can be claimed that, ever since the Enlightenment, autonomy has been the crown jewel of humanity. It is not without irony, therefore, that precisely the concept of autonomy has come to be used to indicate the activities of technologies that have a rather problematic relation with human autonomy. Autonomic computing, and its manifestations of ambient intelligence and persuasive technologies, constitute a new generation of technologies that interact intelligently and relatively independently with human beings (cf. Verbeek 2009). Often without people explicitly noticing it, such technologies help to shape human actions and experiences, ranging from automatic systems in cars that overrule driver decisions to persuasive mirrors in medical practices that try to persuade people to develop a healthier lifestyle by predicting how they would look in ten years’ time (cf. Fogg 2003).