The contradictions of digital modernity

AI and Society 35 (1):197-208 (2020)
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Abstract

This paper explores the concept of digital modernity, the extension of narratives of modernity with the special affordances of digital networked technology. Digital modernity produces a new narrative which can be taken in many ways: to be descriptive of reality; a teleological account of an inexorable process; or a normative account of an ideal sociotechnical state. However, it is understood that narratives of digital modernity help shape reality via commercial and political decision-makers, and examples are given from the politics and society of the United Kingdom. The paper argues that digital modernity has two dimensions, of progression through time and progression through space, and these two dimensions can be in contradiction. Contradictions can also be found between ideas of digital modernity and modernity itself, and also between digital modernity and some of the basic pre-modern concepts that underlie the whole technology industry. Therefore, digital modernity may not be a sustainable goal for technology development.

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