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Today, digitalization is profoundly changing practices in all areas of life, with AI assistants on-call 24-7, social robots, self-driving cars, and social media applications. The speed and scope of the transformation of our living environment into digital cultures have triggered all kinds of utopian and dystopian notions. Two of the most paramount ones can be formulated in terms of autonomy: technological versus networked autonomy.

Digital cultures of information sharing

Technological autonomy expresses the idea that our digital technologies and systems have become so pervasive, intertwined, and powerful that they are no longer in our control. You realize the awkwardness of the new digital cultures of information sharing when the message you texted to the person next to you has to go through a series of servers thousands of miles away. What have we given up in exchange for these services? Do we control the informational infrastructure that we use in our daily lives? What about the uncertainty of our personal information security, and the feeling of being under constant surveillance?

Parallel to this rather gloomy picture of our contemporary life and future, there is an opposite tendency emphasizing that we live in a new social structure, the global network society, which is characterized by the rise of a new culture of autonomy and freedom. This Internet-based culture of autonomy has spurred a new kind of networked sociability, new kinds of networked social movements, and a new kind of networked democracy. Its effect is considered to be particularly positive for less qualified people with lower income, for people in the developing world, and for women.

Conference focuses

Technological autonomy or networked autonomy? Alienation and surveillance or empowerment and freedom? Where are we now and what will the future bring? This conference focuses on the following aspects of digital human sciences:

  • Technological autonomy and interactions between humans and digital entities in society and law, arts, and media.
  • Digital society, ethics, and liability.
  • Networked autonomy and social interactions in digital environments.
  •  Digital society and the future of democracy.

The conference “Autonomy in Digital Society” is the concluding endeavor of the Digital Human Sciences committee at Stockholm University, with the prospect of a future DHS hub. By Digital Human Sciences is meant: Interdisciplinary studies of how digital artifacts and environments influence human beings and society, including: investigations of actors and their role in digital society; social and legal aspects; questions of liability and ethics, as well as interactions between humans in digital environments and between humans and digital systems.

Preliminary Programme




Richard Grusin, Professor of English, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee




Danielle Drozdzewski, PhD, Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University


Jonas Stier, Professor of Sociology at Mälardalen University; Professor of Intercultural Studies, Dalarna University


Natasha Webster, PhD, Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University, and Qian Zhang, PhD, Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University




Peter-Paul Verbeek, Professor of Philosophy of Technology, University of Twente




Stanley Greenstein, PhD, Department of Law, Stockholm University


Mona Blåsjö, Professor of Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Stockholm     University


Jonas Andersson Schwarz, PhD, Media and Communication Studies, Södertörn University


Discussion: Autonomy in Digital Society/The future of Digital Human Sciences


Concluding Remarks


Uno Fors or Sonya Petersson sonya.petersson@art