Social Aspects in New Technology

Mission Statement

From the moment we are conceived to when we die humans are engaged with a range of technologies. An increasing part of the world population would not even exist, if it had not been for in vitro fertilization. And if we are not assembled in a hospital laboratory, then we are most likely scanned and screened with high-tech tools before we are allowed to enter the world and receive our civil rights. As we grow up, more and more sophisticated toys accompany us so that we are finally capable of mastering a complex computer. This hybrid of a toy and a working station follow us through life and has now replaced the dog as the best friend of our race.

Should we become fed up with technology and modern civilisation and want a timeout in the outback of a remote country, then this will probably be enabled by GPS-technology and thus the modern infrastructure of satellites and wartime technologies, not to mention state of the art cloth and special tools for surviving.

In the end it seems almost impossible to leave modern technologies behind. However, this does not pose a problem in itself – humans have always been dependent on various kinds of technologies. The difference of today's technologies is their pervasiveness, connectedness and complex genealogies. The difference, though, is not just one of scale, but also a qualitative one in that it has changed the ways in which modern technologies affect us individually, socially and politically. In so far that we wish to be able to maintain at least some control over and understanding of the changes that follow in the wake of new technologies we need to create a "technology literacy" within science, society and policy-making.

As always it is important to emphasize that "Technology literacy" in this context means more than being a good tool user. It primarily means understanding how many choices, stories, policies, wishes and values are playing a role in developing and designing the technological artefacts around us. New technologies can radically reshape or reinforce our habits and create new social possibilities and loopholes; this is particularly evident with the Internet. Thus the societal impact of a new technology vastly exceeds its immediate function description.

It is the mission of the SAiNT group to be a major contributing force in achieving technological literacy in Denmark. The SAiNT group will develop a profound and mutual understanding of the Social Aspects in New Technologies by facilitating an active dialogue among scientists, technology producers, policymakers, and the broader public.

Members of SAiNT

Søren Riis

Director of SAiNT, Associate Professor at CUID, Roskilde University

Evan Selinger

Associate Professor in Department of Philosophy, Rochester Institute of Technology

Allan Alfred Birkegaard Hansted,

PhD Student, CUID-Novozymes, Roskilde University

Kyle Whyte

Timnick Chair in Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University

Mats Fridlund

Associate Professor in Department of Engineering Design and Production, Aalto University

Main Themes

The SAiNT group concentrates on technology as actors in various context. Three fields of particular interest to the group are: obscurity and privacy, automation and the ethics of outsourcing, and technology and public scholarship.

A central issue is whether any privacy interests –and possibly privacy rights—exist with respect to information that is publically available. Addressing this matter has profound implications for moral theory, etiquette theory, and privacy theory. Another ethical, and political, challenge of our time is that of outsourcing and delegating human behaviour and labor to machines, which raises the question of what should and what shouldn't be outsourced to technology.

Relevant Outreach

Op eds.

  1. Will autocomplete make you too predictable?, by Evan Selinger, BBC Future 15.01.2015
  2. Can Predictive Technology Make us Less Predictable?, by Evan Selinger, Forbes 27.09.2014
  3. Why It’s Too Easy to Dismiss Technology Critics: Or, The Fallacies Leading A Reviewer To Call Nicholas Carr Paranoid, by Evan Selinger, Forbes 19.09.2014
  4. Why Smart Phones Should Help Us Avoid Selfie Sabotage, by Evan Selinger with Woodrow Hartzog, Forbes 10.09.2014
  5. Robot Servants Are Going to Make Your Life Easy. Then They’ll Ruin It, by Evan Selinger, Wired 05.09.2014
  6. Two Reasons Why Extreme Social Surveillance Doesn’t Replace Privacy, by Evan Selinger with Woodrow Hartzog, Forbes 01.09.2014
  7. Why Predictive Shopping Might Be Bad For The Future, by Evan Selinger, Forbes 21.08.2014
  8. Why A Philosopher Teaches Privacy, by Evan Selinger, Forbes 19.08.2014
  9. The Trifecta of Roommate Selection Technology: Privacy, Prejudice and Diversity, by Evan Selinger, Forbes 20.07.2014
  10. Why We Should Be Careful About Adopting Social Robots, by Evan Selinger, Forbes 17.07.2014
  11. How to Stop Facebook From Making Us Pawns In It’s Corporate Agenda, by Evan Selinger with Woodrow Hartzog, Wired 01.07.2014
  12. You’ve Been Obsessing Over Your Likes and Retweets Way Too Much, by Evan Selinger, Wired 09.06.2014
  13. Google vs. our Humanity: How the emerging ‘Internet of Things’ is turning us into robots, by Evan Selinger, Salon, 22.05.2014
  14. Google Can’t Forget You, But It Should Make You Hard to Find, by Evan Selinger with Woodrow Hartzog, Wired 20.05.2014
  15. Satire’s Corporate Takeover: “Community,” “Silicon Valley,” and the Entertainment Industrial Complex, by Evan Selinger, Salon 11.05.2014
  16. Too Titillating for Twitter: Why Outsourcing Social Media Participation is Disconcerting, by Evan Selinger, Forbes 07.05.2014
  17. Don’t Outsource Your Dating Life, by Evan Selinger, CNN 01.05.2014
  18. Why Goal Tracking Apps Are Existentially Provocative, by Evan Selinger, Forbes 09.04.2014
  19. Coping With Unsafe Campuses: Maybe Phones, Not Guns, by Evan Selinger, Forbes. 09.03.2014
  20. Colleges Need to Act Like Startups-Or Risk Becoming Obsolete, by Evan Selinger with Andrew Phelps, Wired 05.03.2014
  21. Watching You Play: Can A Dystopian Video Game Help Us Better Appreciate Privacy?, by Evan Selinger, Forbes 04.03.2014
  22. Today’s Apps are Turning us into Sociopaths, by Evan Selinger, Wired 26.02.2014
  23. Hackerspaces kan give os en ny læringskultur, by Alfred Birkegaard Hansted, 21.02.2014
  24. The Outsourced Lover, by Evan Selinger, The Atlantic 14.02.2014
  25. Internettes DNA, by Alfred Birkegaard Hansted, 12.02.2014
  26. Why App Developers May Be Selling Their Souls To Apple And Google, by Evan Selinger, Forbes 08.02.2014
  27. Inside Googles Mysterious Ethics Board, by Evan Selinger, Forbes 03.02.2014
  28. 5 Ways to Avoid Being Suckered by Unreliable Information, by Evan Selinger, Forbes 25.01.2014
  29. I See You: The Databases that Facial Recognition Apps Need to Survive, by Evan Selinger with Woodrow Hartzog, The Atlantic 23.01.2014
  30. Why Grandma Shouldn’t Have Posted Instagram Pics on Facebook, by Evan Selinger, Forbes 07.01.2014
  31. Keep On Tweeting, There's No Techno-Fix For Incivility Or Injustice, by Evan Selinger, Forbes 02.01.14
  32. Vidensdeling og videnskab i det 21. århundrede, by Alfred Birkegaard Hansted, 01.01.2014
  33. Why Debating Apple’s “Misunderstood” Ad is an Amazing Holiday Gift, by Evan Selinger, Forbes. 23.12.2013
  34. Kampen om Internettet, by Alfred Birkegaard Hansted, 17.12.2013
  35. Skal vi være bekymrede?, by Alfred Birkegaard Hansted, 03.12.2013
  36. Google Files Creepy Patent to Automate Your Social Media Voice, by Evan Selinger, Slate 03.12.2013
  37. What You Don’t Say About Data Can Hurt You, by Evan Selinger with Woodrow Hartzog, Forbes 21.11.2013
  38. How Not to Be a Jerk With Your Stupid Smart Phone, by Evan Selinger, The Atlantic 04.11.2013
  39. Står vi på kanten af en ny læringskultur?, by Alfred Birkegaard Hansted, 31.10.2013
  40. Why Is Facebook Putting Teens at Risk?, by Evan Selinger with Woodrow Hartzog, Bloomberg Opinion 24.10.2013
  41. The Chilling Implications of Democratizing Big Data: Facebook Graph Search is Only the Beginning, by Evan Selinger with Woodrow Hartzog, Forbes 16.10.2013
  42. Humans are Already More ‘Enhanced’ by Technology than We Realize, by Evan Selinger, Slate 03.10.2013
  43. GPS, Travel, and the Fate of Place, by Kirk M. Besmer,, 02.10.13
  44. What is the Right Balance for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Accountability on the Internet?, by Evan Selinger, 27.09.2013
  45. E-Etiquette in the Classroom, by Evan Selinger, Wall Street Journal 07.09.2013
  46. A Social Reinvention of the Car, by Søren Riis, 30.01.13