Ubiquitous tools, connected things and intelligent agents: Disentangling the terminology and revealing underlying theoretical dimensions

Keywords: Ubiquitous Computing, Internet of Things, Smart Objects, Smart Environments, Ambient Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence, Terminology, Social Implications, Invisibility, Agency

Abstract

Research on the social implications of technological developments is highly relevant. However, a broader comprehension of current innovations and their underlying theoretical frameworks is limited by their rapid evolution, as well as a plethora of different terms and definitions. The terminology used to describe current innovations varies significantly among disciplines, such as social sciences and computer sciences. This article contributes to systematic and cross-disciplinary research on current technological applications in everyday life by identifying the most relevant concepts (i.e., Ubiquitous Computing, Internet of Things, Smart Objects and Environments, Ambient Environments and Artificial Intelligence) and relating them to each other. Key questions, core aspects, similarities and differences are identified. Theoretically disentangling terminology results in four distinct analytical dimensions (connectivity, invisibility, awareness, and agency) that facilitate and address social implications. This article provides a basis for a deeper understanding, precise operationalisations, and an increased anticipation of impending developments.

Author Biographies

Katrin Etzrodt, Technical University Dresden
Research Associate and Phd at the Chair of Science and Technology Communication (Institute of Media and Communication)
Sven Engesser, Technical University Dresden
Professor of Science and Technology Communication (Institute of Media and Communication)
Published
2019-08-31
How to Cite
Etzrodt, K., & Engesser, S. (2019). Ubiquitous tools, connected things and intelligent agents: Disentangling the terminology and revealing underlying theoretical dimensions. First Monday, 24(9). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v24i9.9700