Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems


‘Autonomous technologies’ refers to systems that make decisions without explicit human control or interaction. This conceptual paper explores the notion of autonomy by first exploring human autonomy, and then using this understanding to analyze how autonomous technology could or should be modelled. First, we discuss what human autonomy means. We conclude that it is the overall space for action—rather than the degree of control—and the actual choices, or number of choices, that constitutes human autonomy. Based on this, our second discussion leads us to suggest the term datanomous to denote technology that builds on, and is restricted by, its own data when operating autonomously. Our conceptual exploration brings forth a more precise definition of human autonomy and datanomous systems. Finally, we conclude this exploration by suggesting that human autonomy can be strengthened by datanomous technologies, but only if they support the human space for action. It is the purpose of human activity that determines if technology strengthens or weakens human autonomy.