Law, Human Agency and Autonomic Computing interrogates the legal implications of the notion and experience of human agency implied by the emerging paradigm of autonomic computing, and the socio-technical infrastructures it supports. The development of autonomic computing and ambient intelligence – self-governing systems – challenge traditional philosophical conceptions of human self-constitution and agency, with significant consequences for the theory and practice of constitutional self-government. Ideas of identity, subjectivity, agency, personhood, intentionality, and embodiment are all central to the functioning of modern legal systems. But once artificial entities become more autonomic, and less dependent on deliberate human intervention, criteria like agency, intentionality and self-determination, become too fragile to serve as defining criteria for human subjectivity, personality or identity, and for characterizing the processes through which individual citizens become moral and legal subjects. Are autonomic – yet artificial – systems shrinking the distance between (acting) subjects and (acted upon) objects? How ‘distinctively human’ will agency be in a world of autonomic computing? Or, alternatively, does autonomic computing merely disclose that we were never, in this sense, ‘human’ anyway? A dialogue between philosophers of technology and philosophers of law, this book addresses these questions, as it takes up the unprecedented opportunity that autonomic computing and ambient intelligence offer for a reassessment of the most basic concepts of law.

chapter |11 pages


A multifocal view of human agency in the era of autonomic computing

chapter |19 pages

Subject to technology

On autonomic computing and human autonomy 1

chapter |18 pages

Remote control

Human autonomy in the age of computer-mediated agency

chapter |21 pages

Autonomy, delegation, and responsibility

Agents in autonomic computing environments

chapter |19 pages

Rethinking human identity in the age of autonomic computing

The philosophical idea of trace

chapter |15 pages

Autonomic computing, genomic data and human agency

The case for embodiment

chapter |22 pages

Technology, virtuality and utopia

Governmentality in an age of autonomic computing

chapter |20 pages

Autonomic and autonomous ‘thinking'

Preconditions for criminal accountability

chapter |18 pages

Technology and accountability

Autonomic computing and human agency

chapter |20 pages

Of machines and men

The road to identity. Scenes for a discussion 1

chapter |18 pages

‘The BPI Nexus'

A philosophical echo to Stefano Rodotà's ‘Of Machines and Men'

chapter |6 pages


Technological mediation, and human agency as recalcitrance