Governing Citizens’ Bodies, Movements and Space(s): The Chapters of the Book

In different manners, the chapters of this book address technological change, focusing on how technologies insert themselves into the lives of citizens, transforming people and creating new political and ethical configurations and problems. The contents of the book are organized into four thematic sections. The first section introduces the notions of governance, ethics, publics and technological change that structure the book. The first chapter has an introductory character with a general focus on the governance of emerging technologies. In this chapter, Roger Strand and Silvio Funtowicz focus on the ethical and political complexity inherent in emerging technologies by introducing some key issues and by situating such technologies in a historical perspective. Complexity largely arises from the emerging and radically uncertain nature of these new technologies. The technologies are ethically ambiguous; however, they may produce great transformations. In addition, these technologies largely exist only in ‘plans, hopes and visions’. A multiplicity of legitimate perspectives may be included in decisions regarding technological developments; however, decisions are inevitably made as technologies are emerging, at which time interests themselves are developing as the technologies emerge. A question that orients this paper is why researchers (such as the authors themselves) should be interested in proposing new ethical frameworks for the governance of emerging technologies. Researchers in the fields of science and technology studies and ethics, the authors argue, are active partners in the processes of sociotechnical change and should reflectively consider their roles.

Chapter 2 is authored by Kim Jepsen, Ana Delgado and Margareta Bertilsson and addresses technological change, focusing on how publics may come into being in contexts of technological emergence. Public concerns regarding technologies emerge as people attempt to accommodate ‘stranger’ technologies in their everyday lives. The chapter analyses how those concerns emerge as communal and they are articulated by collective action. The chapter emphasizes that ‘issues unfold and are articulated in multiple and contested ways, on the grounds of shared concerns. Some concerns and issue articulations might remain at the margins of representation, evoking a public spectre’ (p. 28). In this manner, the chapter focuses on the political nature of the public and anticipates a notion of citizenship that is grounded in the idea of the ‘common’ (and the community). This motif reappears throughout the book.

The second section of the book investigates how emerging technologies might transform the materiality and meaning of the human body and mind. The focus of the section is technologies of ‘enhancement’, that is, technologies of body modification that are targeted to enhance performance and life conditions. From cosmetic surgery to bionic implants and software for enhancing the activity of the brain, technologies of body enhancement are quite heterogeneous. However, body enhancement technologies share at least three important features. First, these technologies assume and challenge a certain notion of ‘normality’. Second, as objects of enhancement, the human body and mind ambiguously appear as both malleable and limiting. Ironically, in their limitations, the mind and body offer unlimited possibili?ties for technological transformation. Third, as the technologies themselves, such transformations of bodies and minds remain emergent, and in most cases, these technologies remain no more than visions and hopes. Although technologies of body modification have existed since ancient times, the ambition to transcend the limitations of the human mind and body (as in transhumanists’ visions) remains largely within the realm of fiction (Delgado et al. 2012). Thus, this section includes a final chapter on science fiction narratives of body enhancement. In this chapter, Miquel Barcelo and Louis Lemkow draw on a rich collection of stories, presenting an account of the diversity of human enhancement technologies and the diversity of ethical and political dilemmas that may arise with them. Science fiction narratives are presented as a medium with which to explore technologies that remain in development (or are simply imagined) and whose implications cannot be grasped in any manner other than the speculative imagination. By presenting imagined technological landscapes, science fiction narratives address classic ethical and political questions such as: ‘What does it mean to be human? Who should have control over technology? How are people affected by science and technology?’ (p. 68). The chapter attends to a number of controversial enhancement technologies such as genetic enhancements and introduces a special focus on the implications of digital technologies. An identified classic theme in science fiction narratives is the uncoupling of the body and mind. Such uncoupling would, for example, enable the creation of a multiplicity of copies of the same person or allow people’s minds to be uploaded to computer memories. Issues of identity and immortality occupy a central position within science fiction narratives in addition to questions of how the technological enhancement of individuals may trigger issues of representative democracy and ‘human rights’ and ultimately produce social inequality and injustice.

Similar themes reappear in Chap. 4 in relation to the academic literature. Authored by S0ren Holm, this chapter outlines the primary ethical controversies related to body modification and enhancement and identifies the factors that create such controversies. An initial controversy addresses the limits of the human body and its normative status. Against such limits, transhumanist claims to the right of ‘morphological freedom’ are emerging. These claims raise ethical and political questions regarding whether freedom should be the master value of democratic societies. A related controversy regards the possible implications of unequally distributed body modifications and enhancements. In terms of social justice, ‘freedom of morphology’ may result in increasing the divide between the rich and the poor. Finally, this chapter discusses ethical problems related to extreme transhumanist visions that foresee immortality and the overcoming of all human limits by technological convergence. Chapter 4 focuses on what it means to be ‘normal’ and on the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion that may emerge with the development of body enhancement technologies. Chapter 3 returns the focus to politics and governance, relating this chapter to the previous section. In this chapter, Kim Jepsen introduces the notion of citizenship, situating the concept in a context of technological emergence. This chapter provides sociological analysis of how deaf people have experienced radical changes in their lives after acquiring a bionic implant. In a sense, such implant recipients have become cyborgs. With a body that has been technologically enhanced, these people remain strangers to socially accepted notions of what is to be a human being. Drawing on ethnographic materials, this chapter explores ‘unresolved issues of what it means to live as citizens with technological innovation’ (p. 36). The chapter examines how the human body as the domain of technological interventions becomes an object of science, government and industry. In their everyday experience and attempts to live with their bionic implants, such citizens redefine their social identities. Inserted into the everyday lives of citizens, technology influences both the emergence of new communities (with a renewed sense of belonging) and new forms of social exclusion. The notion of citizenship that this chapter proposes addresses the political dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, suggesting manners in which to address technologically mediated diversity.

The third section of the book addresses the emergence and implementation of technologies for tracking and controlling citizens’ movements. This section focuses on how biometric technologies are being used by governments in the European Union (EU), creating a new area of ‘security’ while, many argue, placing basic elements of what composes citizenship in liberal democracies at risk. The chapters in this section emphasize how after 9/11 and for the sake of security and efficiency, ICT platforms and surveillance devices have been expanding all over Europe. The citizenry itself has become an object of digital engineering: movements are tracked, data regarding individuals are stored and matched, and profiles are produced in the search for ‘suspicious behaviour’. The citizenry has become an object of technoscientific intervention and an object of distrust. Citizens are suspected by default. Nevertheless, this section suggests that it is difficult to perceive what the real ‘threat’ is that justifies the deployment of such technological machinery. Paradoxically, by deploying technological means to ‘secure’ us, the state becomes the primary threat to citizenship. In Chap. 7, Katrin Laas-Mikko and Margit Sutrop address such problems through ethical analysis and discussion. This chapter argues that although public security is touted as the preeminent value, foundational values of liberal democracies such as privacy and autonomy are being violated. These arguments are grounded in the analysis of the implementation of ‘second-generation biometrics’ in Europe. Software-based technologies and digital platforms are used with the ultimate goal of anticipating actions, particularly malign actions. According to Kristrun Gunnarsdottir in Chap. 6, these are market-driven technologies tailored to recreate people’s intentions and anticipate their choices. With a focus on mobility, security and markets, this chapter provides a detailed sociological account of how the ideal of European political integration and social cohesion has led to a reality in which citizens’ movements are increasingly under surveillance. The EU integration has first and foremost pursued ‘market integration’ (and liberalization), which required the free movement of goods, labour force and capital. The regulation of people’s mobility, particularly of non-European citizens, is key for this purpose. This chapter also provides insights into how ICT industry is positioning itself as a key actor in the governing of biometric technologies and the production of ‘knowledge’ regarding citizens. ICT experts have a central role in these developments; however, these experts generally do not appear fully aware of the ethical and political impli?cations of the implementation of this emerging technological field. This chapter concludes that there is no evidence that the implementation of these technologies of surveillance is helping to keep us ‘safe’, although there is evidence of the market opportunities and benefits that these technological developments are enabling.

In Chap. 7, Kjetil Rommetveit echoes and emphasizes these arguments. By providing a comprehensive analysis of key policy documents, the chapter provides a chronological overview of how ideals of integration have been realized in the EU, increasingly rendering Europe a ‘security envelope’. The control of borders is crucial to these endeavours. Two types of imagined technologies are intrinsic to these developments: the imaginary of the ‘body as information’ and the imaginary of ‘systems interoperability’. Each imaginary has entered into the making of a comprehensive legal framework, and combined, they project a certain ‘biometrics vision’ of European societies. First, information regarding the physical features of citizens is digitalized. Digital identities are contained in identity documents (such as the European biometrics passport). Such travel documents allow tracking the movements of citizens at any time. Second, data regarding people’s identities and movements are stored in interoperable systems across European borders. The ‘biometrics vision’ is realized on two complementary levels: ‘promoting the tightened relation between the body and travel documents’ and ‘the tightened integration of systems and government agencies as given through the concept of interoperability’ (p. 118). As this chapter indicates, several problems with data protection, privacy and fundamental rights as well as with the social exclusion of vulnerable groups pertain to the development of the security envelope. The primary argument of this chapter, however, is that these problems are components of a broader set of problems likely to be encountered within large-scale information systems as those systems enter the real world and that the biometrics visions do not truly consider these issues.

If the previous sections of the book have focused on the transformations of citizens’ bodies and mobility as those transformations occur in technoscientific governing and governance, the final section introduces a focus on how space is being redefined by technological interventions. This section addresses the emergence of two geo-technologies: geo-engineering and digital maps as developed within GIS (Geographical Information Systems). Both sets of technologies reconfigure orderings and scales. For instance, the implementation of geo-engineering technologies is justified as a way to tackle the global problem of climate change by acting locally (by, for example, manipulating air particles in a particular spot), geo-engineering turns the Earth itself into a technoscientific object whose transformations entail changes on a global scale. With this global scope, geo-engineering is often taken for granted as a field in which citizens’ expertise may not have much to contribute. Rather, citizens are to be included as stakeholders. Digital maps, on the other hand, are becoming mundane objects of people’s everyday lives. As they operate in mobile phones, iPads GPSs, etc., citizens’ lives are becoming increasingly geo-referenced. Citizens are often included as users, co-designers or co-producers in the development of geo-referenced data, software development, digital interfaces and visualizations. However, as the first chapter of this section argues, it is crucial to question how citizens are being included in processes of technological innovation.

Particularly, in the context of digital maps, what type of access to the technology are citizens truly given? What types of agencies are in play? And how might the inclusion of citizens in these processes ultimately empower the people? Because both geo-engineering and digital maps are technologies that have the potential to transform people’s lives (in both dramatic and mundane manners), it is important to critically question the working dynamics of the expert-lay interplay. All chapters in this section do so by addressing different aspects of these dynamics. In Chap. 9, Kjetil Rommetveit, Angela Pereira and Tiago Pedrosa explore how people imagine themselves, others and space through digital maps. This chapter addresses the everyday ‘use’ of GIS by attending to three types of action: overlaying, interpreting and interacting. The crucial question is whether GIS technologies allow citizens to take an active role within those modalities of action. Descriptions emphasize how ‘overlaying’ became a prominent tool and skill for depicting and imagining space in the digital age. Overlaying comprises combining several thematic maps (layers) into a single input. Overlaying reveals new sets of relations, data matches and meanings. However, the chapter argues, overlaying is far from a naive and neutral manner of redefining space (and the relations that inhabit and configure it). Rather, overlaying is informed by interests and values. By the same token, one can ask what type of ‘interactivity’ digital technologies and, in particular, GIS is enabling. If, for example, the contents of the maps can only be modified and updated by the technology’s provider as users provide data (as with Google Earth), the ‘interactivity’ has ultimately a one-way direction. Alternatively, open source initiatives may allow people to modify not only the content of those maps but, more radically, also the way in which the technology works as well as its use. Thus, the question is what type of new connections these technologies are enabling and the extent to which the technologies enable new forms of collective action and possibly citizenship. For example, private companies may be using GIS technologies to produce geo-referenced data on consumer choices, producing geo-referenced products that are tailored to individual preferences and producing certain social orders by classifying people in certain manners (as on the basis of who lives where). However, new communities of experts are emerging such as ‘communities of volunteer virtual cartographers’ (p. 136) with specific manners of overlaying and of configuring the relations between the public and the private. It is experience and concern, this chapter argues, that make people care for and create common spaces. Maps created by amateur geographers may not stress accuracy and precision; however, those maps may reflect other concerns based on life experiences, often shared life experiences. The new spaces (and spacing) that GIS technologies afford can mediate new forms of common spaces and collective action as well as privatization and individualization.

In Chap. 10, Fanny Verrax focuses on experts and expertise. The chapter questions the ethical adequacy of GIS professional ethics by analysing a code of conduct that was created by a primary association of GIS professionals. A question is whether general issues of ICT ethics such as privacy are sufficient to ethically address and regulate GIS or whether the technological and social complexity of the technology requires an ethical approach that takes specific issues into account. The chapter suggests that specific ethical frameworks are required that will evaluate issues that emerge with the technology itself, such as the social and political implications of producing massive amounts of digital data on individuals. The expert-lay divide, the chapter claims, should be redefined in accordance with such issues.

In the final chapter of the book (Chap. 11), Paula de Curvelo and Angela Pereira provide an overview of scientific controversies on geo-engineering. Geo-engineering encompasses a number of technologies and techniques to modify the climate in desired manners. Geo-engineering has emerged (and is politically justified) in relation to climate change, often presented as a technological solution to the nonintended problems that come with highly uncertain changes in atmospheric conditions. It is this technoscientific ambition to control uncertain entities and modify them at will that renders geo-engineering both promising and controversial. Controversy surrounding geo-engineering, this chapter argues, ultimately refers to a rather old issue, namely, ‘What is our place in nature?’ As with climate change, the dissenters are, on the one hand, those who believe that humans have always modified the climate and that geo-engineering is nothing substantially new or different and, on the other hand, are those who believe that geo-engineering entails a technological manner of intervening in nature with the potential to produce disastrous natural disorders (the proposed solutions to climate change producing more natural and social uncertainty). This disagreement is partially based on the heterogeneous nature of the technology itself. From reforestation for CO2 capturing to the use of chemicals for whitening the clouds to reduce Earth’s absorption of solar radiation, a great variety of methods and practices fall within the purview of geo-engineering. Nevertheless, different practices entail different controlling strategies and uncertainties and different implications for governance. Turning the focus towards governance, the chapter identifies three primary narratives informing current debates on geo-engineering. The paper concludes by arguing that debates on geo-engineering can be situated within dominant narratives on science, technology and society such as the set of justifications put forward in European policy strategies that propose technological innovation as the key element for facing challenges, solving problems and triggering social change.

In different manners and in different technological domains, the chapters of this book address changes and transformations that are occurring within science, governance and citizenship. Furthermore, they show how ‘transformation’ itself is emerging as the object of technoscientific research: the Earth, the human body and mind, and the movement of citizens are becoming objects of design and technological intervention. Finally, ‘transformation’ is the ultimate concern of technoscientific governance. In the discourse of innovation, social change appears as something that is desirable and can be intentionally shaped by technological intervention. A certain sense of urgency emanates from this narrative, a sense that something must be changed quickly to avoid imminent catastrophe in terms of, for example, environmental disasters, terrorist attacks and demographic collapse. However, the institutional narrative of innovation magically turns problems into challenges to produce a feeling that these are also times of opportunity and excitement. Politics drives science, and science drives politics, in novel manners. As presented by institutions, the need for change comes with the imperative that ‘we’, as European citizens, must take an active role in ensuring our future. Moving towards a sort of ‘technological citizenship’, citizens are required to be responsible and active in innovation. However, what does the strong desire for change and transformation say about the state of Europe and European politics? What does the desire for change say about European civilization’s ambitions? That technology and innovation will enable Europe to be a leading power in a globalized world, as European authorities hope, remains a vision. Providing some conceptual and empirical materials to start situating such civilizatory ambitions and hopes has been the main concern of this book.

Centre for the Study of the Sciences Ana Delgado

and the Humanities (SVT)

University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

 
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