Autonomy and Liberty in Times of COVID 19. Concepts, understandings and associations of autonomy and liberty during the COVID19-pandemic and the role of AI and Big Data
The COVID 19 pandemic takes effect as a magnifying glass for many developments: The pandemic is not only negotiated as a technology driver but also has evoked different medical and political measures to combat the spread of the virus. As a consequence extensive, multifaceted debates about the conditions of a free, autonomous lifestyle have been lead. As catchy andself-evident as the reference to values such as autonomy, liberty,self-determination, etc. seems, the references appear to be shimmeringly colourful, diverse and sometimes also contrary and contradictory. What do we mean by autonomy in times of a pandemic? What concepts of autonomy are being brought forward and discussed in the public sphere? These are the questions we are exploring in this sub-project. In doing so, we also want to contrast the concepts of autonomy with those that are used as arguments in the context ofthe use of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. Are there similarities here? To what extent the use of AI technologies is invoked to help reconciling the pandemic situation? What argumentative logic is revealed in the media discourseand in lay interviews in references to autonomy and liberty?
Our research aims to analyse how understandings of autonomy are negotiated from ethical, public and historical perspectives intimes of a pandemic. To this end, we examine the German media discourse and ask laypersons in interviews about prevailing understandings of autonomy. This qualitative research approach is framed by a look at the historical debate around the Federal Epidemic Protection Act of 1961 and a consideration of autonomy concepts in the context of AI debates.