Society for the Anthropology of Europe
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
In this paper I present a comparative analysis of ethical interventions into Internet of Things (IoT) development currently playing out across Europe in the shape of 1) manifestos and EU policy documents, 2) ethical IoT tech meetups and 3) critical IoT technologies. The paper is based on fieldwork among IoT developers around Europe between 2017-2019 and through a selection of empirical cases I enter an exploratory dialogue with the recent ‘ethical turn’ in anthropology. Since the rise of ubiquitous computing visions of a world inhabited by seamless technologies melting into the background of our everyday existence have flourished. With the rapid development of IoT sensing technologies these imaginaries have now entered the world in practice, altering a variety of climates in invisible and yet pervasive ways. The promises of frictionless connectivity tied to IoT technologies continuously seem to crumble as IoT devices break down and bring different ethical dilemmas to the surface. I show how a lot of IoT creators while expressing enthusiasm about the possibilities that IoT technologies engender also experience uncertainty and unease about what kinds of creations and worlds they bring into being. In my analysis of written documents, meetups and critical IoT technologies I use my ethnography to illustrate how IoT developers enact different ethical modes as they struggle to negotiate between the possibilities that IoT technologies offer and the ethical pitfalls they bring about. A question running through my fieldwork is: What kind of technological future do we “Europeans” want to live in?