While autonomous mobility technology is developing, comparatively less is known about how a sociotechnical system of autonomous mobility may impact our urban living conditions. Using Finland as a case study, this research aims to identify the possible implications of changing power relations created by autonomous mobility technology. This study uses a theoretical and conceptual approach grounded in the planning research tradition of Aristotelian practical judgement (phronesis). Drawing from political theory of technology, it investigates the social relations that may be afforded by autonomous mobility technology. Adapting a concept drawn from geography of power, it examines how power is expressed in terms of transcripts of dominant technological agency and hidden social context. 31 interviews of extended users in the transition (intermediaries) revealed three dominant transcripts of technological agency associated with the philosophy of cyberlibertarianism (liberation of the driver, safety of the driver and customer accessibility), and four hidden transcripts of social context (restrictions on sharing street space, loss of social safety, vulnerability of passengers, and loss of privacy). The phronetic research tradition that was used in the study revealed several things. The impact of autonomous mobility technology goes beyond the purely systemic, affecting the very fabric of our connection with place and society. Failure to consider autonomous mobility technology as a sociotechnical system that will restructure society unperceptively (technological somnambulism) may bring profound societal changes.
- Self-driving vehicle, Transportation, Technology transitions, Urban planning, Power, Users