Sufficiency, ethics of care and smart home technology

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Abstract

This paper reviews and discusses ethics of care, smart home technology (SHT) and sufficiency, and by bringing these discussions together we point at what a future technology development within SHT should include to help promote a sustainable future.There is a growing agreement that we need to fundamentally change our way of consuming and producing energy, and that efficiency will not be able to secure a sustainable energy future. Sufficiency has been proposed as a concept that raises the issue of how much “enough” is, and how we can define limitations to consumption. From another angle SHT is promoted by both industry and policy makers as an enabler in a sustainable society, to help control and link together production and consumption of fluctuating renewable energy. In this paper, we will discuss possibilities and limitations of SHT in relation to sufficiency by including ethics of care. We will argue that SHT has its advantages in relation to help control well-defined issues of energy consumption that can be quantified and programmed into algorithms. On the other hand, sufficiency, we will argue, cannot always be defined objectively and quantified exactly. Concepts like consumption corridors from the sufficiency literature argue for limits of how much we can consume. However, the precise balancing of, for instance, when to turn up or down the heating is also concerned with specific situations and social relations in the everyday life. Sometimes keeping a lower temperature will be fine, whereas in other situations, e.g., when caring for older visitors or when one is sick, it can be a health or comfort issue. Therefore, these situations entail a balancing towards keeping higher temperatures, even if the system may signal a lack of renewable energy at the time. Ethics of care is a concept that is gaining interest within sustainable consumption literature. It includes caring for other people, materiality, and the environment, at the same time as it includes a situatedness, where balancing different concerns cannot be defined objectively and universally. In this paper, we explore possible implications of ethics of care and sufficiency thinking for the SHT development
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationeceee 2022 Summer Study proceedings. Agents of Change.
Number of pages10
Publication dateJul 2022
Pages65-74
ISBN (Electronic)ISSN: 2001-7960 (online) ISBN: 978-91-983878-9-3 (online)
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

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