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Is digitalization dehumanization? - Dystopic Traits of Digitalization
1  SCCIIL - Interdisciplinary Center, Dept of AIT, University of Gothenburg


Most phenomena in the world have both positive and negative aspects (pluses and minuses). This is also true of digitalization.

However, a lot more emphasis lately has been placed on the positive potentials of digitalization than on the negative potentials and already occurring negative effects.

Digitalization is supposed to bring increased efficiency leading to greater speed and lower costs. The question is greater speed and lower costs for whom?

In this paper, I will discuss the idea that perfectly well functioning social practices, like human face-to-face communication, shopping, banking, medical care, education, administration, policing etc should be ”disrupted” (a recent buzz word) and exchanged for digital services, supposedly bringing greater efficiency through increased speed and lower costs.

We will study a number of such examples, coming, for example, from shopping, where customers are asked to register what they buy themselves and then pay with a plastic card, registering their purchase for the benefit of the shop owners, credit card company and bank, or from academic lecturing, where knowledgeable persons lecturing can be exchanged for a digital learning environment, where students learn on their own.

We will pose the question: ”When is digitalization warranted and when not?” When is it better to trust established human practices than to disrupt and substitute them with digital replacements. When should we not fix what is not broken?

Some of the areas that will be examined are:

  1. Administration
  2. Banking
  3. Shopping
  4. Education
  5. Health care
  6. Security
  7. Privacy
  8. Human face-to-face communication


How can we digitalize with care, avoiding disruption of some of the best practices evolved by mankind?

Keywords: Digitalization, dehumanization, dystopia