BioMe: Existential Challenges and Ethical Imperatives of Biometric AI in Everyday Lifeworlds
Via the ever-growing role of biometrics within the lifeworld – machine-based measurement and statistical analysis of people's unique physical and behavioral characteristics – artificial intelligence (AI) is already here, at our fingertips. Beyond provoking immediate questions about privacy infringement and security, biometrics nails us to personality types, proclaims ‘risky individuals’, and discerns our desires, value and psychic health, thus evoking even larger existential and ethical questions about human dignity, social prejudice and transparency.
Building on and furthering principal investigator Amanda Lagerkvist’s previous accomplishments as a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, including her founding the international research field of existential media studies, this project’s central aim is to investigate the experiential range of encounters with these technologies with a focus on both possibilities as well as challenges and vulnerabilities, in order to scrutinize the pressing ethical imperatives they pose for networked humanity.
By intersecting expertise in media studies, philosophy, law and information systems, BioMe offers an urgently needed, internationally cutting-edge, state-of-the-art humanities approach to AI and how people live with biometrics – examining e.g. smart household assistants (voice recognition), pre-emptive policing (face recognition), health apps and touch screens (sensory data capture).
As an associated partner of Chalmers AI Research Centre we will exchange resources and ideas about how to procure truly beneficial and existentially sustainable AI in workshops on existential virtue ethics of care. Producing a new and topical body of knowledge for and with various stakeholders in society: engineers, NGO’s, policy makers, the business and art worlds, and the international research community, BioMe will answer the call from the EU to think about ethics proactively as part of the design process, but also normatively as part of a broader set of techno-moral virtues for good lives in our time.
The project is part of a national research programme, WASP-HS, which involves a total of SEK 660 million over ten years, initiated by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation and the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation.
Studies and people
The project consists of five empirical studies and six people:
- Study 1: The Biometric Person. Principal investigator, Professor Amanda Lagerkvist.
- Study 2: Biometrics and the vulnerabilities of being seen. PhD Matilda Tudor.
- Study 3: Living with and against voice capture. PhD Jacek Smolicki.
- Study 4: BioMe-thical judgements: the risks, opportunities and human needs in biometric-based law enforcement. PhD Jenny Eriksson Lundström.
- Study 5: Twists of the smart body. Biohacking as existential practice. PhD Student Maria Rogg.
- Ethics advisor and consultant in our work on an existential virtue ethics of care. Professor Charles M. Ess.