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Sociotechnical transformations of health care: practices of objectivations, knowledge translation and new forms of agency 
Jannis Steinke (TU Braunschweig)
Anja Trittelvitz (Hochschule EmdenLeer)
Heike Gerdes (University of Applied Sciences)
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Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

The uprising of digital devices in medical care transforms the concepts of health, human-machine ontologies, self-efficacy etc. A sociotechnical scholarship can help to avoid binary codifications of technosciences into technooptimism on the one hand and technopessimism on the other.

Long Abstract:

Symptom Assessment applications strive to be a contribution for medical care, in terms of an “informed patient” who can improve their health literacy before approaching a consultation with a doctor. Several transformations take place by this digitalization of diagnostic practices: Patients turn into users, medical knowledge translates to technical knowledge and the haptics of bodies shifts to statistical data.

From the users´s point of view, these new tools are obstacle and chance at the same time: Being dissected into data-fragments and reassembled into discourses about their conditions, users have to navigate their own self-efficacy vs. their disciplining. This renders the digital device´s ontology as a surgical tool that operates by algorithmic diffraction. It also displays a ‘magical’ opacity whose purpose oftentimes remains obfuscated.

Developers are guided by technosolutionist aspirations such as the idea to overcome death. This reproduces not only colonialist timeframes that supposedly only know one direction: a positivist progression towards the future. It also restores anthropocentric transhumanist ideas of human immortality, where the autonomous subject resides at the core of every notion and concept. This transformation is therefore an ontological one, that expands into areas such as objectivity, aesthetics and concepts of health, life and death.

Therefore, this panel kindly invites presentations in a traditional form that (not exclusively) cover the following fields:

- Digital transformation of health care

- Discussions about practices of objectivation in terms of digital diagnostic tools

- New and different conceptions of ‘the human’, ‘the machine’, ‘subject’ and ‘agency’ that are implicated by artificial intelligence

- Empirical studies about biases and discrimination in digital health technologies

- (F)STS-informed critiques of conceptions such as health, life and death

- F-STS and new materialist informed proposals for another conception of human-machine interactions and relations (example can but must not be digital health care technologies)

Accepted papers: