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Review of Social Economy
Deadline: March 31st, 2020
Digital Behavioural Technology, Vulnerability and Justice
We invite submissions for a special issue on “Digital Behavioural Technology, Vulnerability and Justice” (based on a workshop on that theme held in Munich in July 2019).
We are currently witnessing the arrival of digital technologies with the potential to have a deep impact on how we think, behave, and relate to others. New medical devices, for example brain implants, can be used for therapeutic purposes, but their potential is much vaster. Apps that track our behavior and body functions can be used for the purpose of improving our health, fitness or general well-being, but they might also create massive privacy and justice problems. While there is a great variety of technologies, what they have in common is that they track human bodies and that they rely on the aggregation of data that they extract from individual users.
These technologies are not introduced into a void, but into societies characterized by vulnerabilities and multi-dimensional inequalities, many of which are unjust. When seen through the lens of vulnerability and justice, the introduction of these new digital technologies raises intricate questions. While proponents argue that such technologies can help to reduce unjust inequalities and discriminatory practices, critics fear that they will reinforce them. It is unclear what new forms of vulnerabilities they might create, and how they will impact on existing ones. It is likely that new forms of legal and institutional regulation will be required, especially in contexts in which powerful economic agents, e.g. business companies or insurance corporations, are involved. Some commentators warn, for example, that human autonomy and privacy as we knew them might become obsolete, or might turn into luxury items that only the economically privileged can afford.
We invite contributions from disciplines such as political philosophy, public health ethics, sociology, economics, technology and neuroscience. We want to build bridges between ideas and arguments, and allow for a comprehensive perspective on these new technologies that takes their political, social, ethical, technological and medical implications into account.
Specific questions to be discussed include, for example:
- What general issues of justice arise with regard to technologies such as brain-machine-interfaces, tracking apps or forms of artificial intelligence that influence human behaviour?
- What forms of structural and epistemic injustice might be reduced or reinforced by these new technologies?
- What is the conceptual and practical relation to vulnerability or “vulnerable groups”?
- How should new digital behavioural technologies be regulated, and what criteria of procedural justice should be used for doing so?
- What technological, regulatory or political solutions can provide remedies for justice-related problems with these technologies?