The new digital wave of rationalization: A loss of autonomy

Lambèr M.M. Royakkers (Corresponding author), Q.C. (Rinie) van Est (Corresponding author)

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The new wave of digitization and the ensuing cybernetic loop lead to the fact that biological, social, and cognitive processes can be understood in terms of information processes and systems, and thus digitally programmed and controlled. Digital control offers society and the individuals in that society a multitude of opportunities, but also brings new social and ethical challenges. Important public values are at stake, closely linked to fundamental and human rights. This paper focuses on the public value of autonomy, and shows that digitization—by analysis and application of data—can have a profound effect on this value in all sorts of aspects in our lives: in our material, biological, and socio-cultural lives. Since the supervision of autonomy is hardly organized, we need to clarify through reflection and joint debate about what kind of control and human qualities we do not want to lose in the digital future.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)59-74
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Technoethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Autonomy
  • Digitization
  • Ethics
  • Public Values
  • Rationalization


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