Stepping out of the Screen: Agency for Ubicomp

Dr. Astrid Vicas
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Ubiquitous, ambient computing may be expected to bring interacting with computing devices out of the desktop and into the environment and objects of everyday use. In order to provide a context for the thesis suggested, a variety of examples of projects involving ubiquitous computing that are being worked on will be outlined.

Given that these devices can be expected to operate in the background, not require users' explicit attention, and typically be connected to a network, what might be their impact on how we think about human agency?

The thesis suggested is that a specific form of agency in the context of ubiquitous computing might develop that can be characterized in the following way. A positive characterization of it is that it would be of short-duration, configurational, and may instantiate bursty network activity. It may also be characterized, in a negative way, as not open to introspective examination, non-reflex, non-deliberative, non-directional, and also non-gap reducing. These points will be explained in the presentation.

Agency in ubiquitous computing can be, on the one hand, compared to wakeful states that occur in absence automatisms as described by Damasio (1999). It can be, on the other hand, contrasted with conceptions of embodied agency as construed by Heidegger (1996), Foucault (1995), and Deleuze and Guattari (1987). Points of comparison with these forms and conceptions of agency will be outlined in the presentation.

The upshot of the presentation is that what would otherwise constitute unremarkable patterns of behavior, or even mere instances of disease, could, because they are harnessed by technological developments such as ubiquitous computing, be transformed into a distinctive form of human agency.

Keywords: Ubiquitous Computing, Human Agency
Stream: Human Technologies and Useability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Astrid Vicas

Associate Professor, Philosophy, Department of Philosophy and Religion, Saint Leo University

Astrid Vicas holds an MBA in Marketing and a PhD in Philosophy. She is currently working on projects that examine the relation between agency, culture, and values, and that focus on the impact of developments in technology and business on our conceptions of individual agency. She teaches Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Humanities at Saint Leo University, has taught Philosophy at the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, and the University of Ottawa, and has taught Marketing at the Université du Québec in Montreal. Some recent publications on the issues of agency, perception, and media include "Simultaneous Visual and Auditory Streams in Film and Psychology", Visio, vol. 8, numbers 3-4, Fall-Winter (2003): 371-376; "Action revisited", Cultural Dynamics, vol. 11, number 3 (1999): 259-284.; "Reusing Culture: The Import of Détournement", Yale Journal of Criticism, vol. 11, number 2 (1998): 381-406.

Ref: T05P0091