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Accepted Paper:

Algorithmically governed living: exploring a re-imagined citizenship for the digital welfare state  
Santtu Räisänen (Centre for Consumer Society Research, University of Helsinki)

Short abstract:

In a ministerial AI project to reform the Finnish welfare state towards "human centricity", the citizen is reimagined as a new kind of responsibilized, entrepreneurial and actively datafied subject, drawing on both paternalistic citizen-consumerism as well as cybernetic social engineering.

Long abstract:

The digital welfare state project is being advanced in various parts of the world through programmes of governmental innovation, ones whose reforms of encumbent societal institutions are justified on notions of digital public good. In Finland, the concept of a "digital human centric government" was mobilized as the raison d'etre of a large scale state-led AI innovation programme. In my paper, I approach how this notion of human-centricity in the programme imposes new understandings regarding the meaning and values of citizenship in the digital welfare state.

I find, that in the turn towards the human-centric in Finnish digital welfare reform, the human is a flexible signifier which arises out of technical metaphor to stand for certain fantasies regarding welfare citizenship, market society and the state. Through a close reading of user representations in the governmental AI Programme, I identify three dominant articulations of the human: the machinic, the inadequate and the entrepreneurial. These articulations disambiguate the human-in-the-centre as a chimaeral fantasy of neoliberal-cybernetic paternalism, and evince the role of the engineerial imagination in the work of doing technopolitical interventions to refigure citizenship and the state.

Traditional Open Panel P032
Digital Public Goods and the future of the state: new constellations of (digital) statehood between entrepreneurship and state-led innovation
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -