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Breaching the Future: Understanding Human Challenges of Autonomous Systems for the Home

Nilsson, Tommy; Crabtree, Andy; Fischer, Joel; Koleva, Boriana


Tommy Nilsson

Professor of Human-Computer Interaction


The domestic environment is a key area for the design and deployment of autonomous systems. Yet research indicates their adoption is already being hampered by a variety of critical issues including trust, privacy and security. This paper explores how potential users relate to the concept of autonomous systems in the home and elaborates further points of friction. It makes two contributions. One methodological, focusing on the use of provocative utopian and dystopian scenarios of future autonomous systems in the home. These are used to drive an innovative workshop-based approach to breaching experiments, which surfaces the usually tacit and unspoken background expectancies implicated in the organisation of everyday life that have a powerful impact on the acceptability of future and emerging technologies. The other contribution is substantive, produced through participants efforts to repair the incongruity or 'reality disjuncture' created by utopian and dystopian visions, and highlights the need to build social as well as computational accountability into autonomous systems, and to enable coordination and control.


Nilsson, T., Crabtree, A., Fischer, J., & Koleva, B. (2019). Breaching the Future: Understanding Human Challenges of Autonomous Systems for the Home. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 23(2), 287–307.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 23, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 21, 2019
Publication Date 2019-04
Deposit Date Mar 7, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 22, 2020
Journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing
Print ISSN 1617-4909
Electronic ISSN 1617-4917
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 2
Pages 287–307
Keywords Autonomous systems; domestic environment; background expectancies; breaching experiments; scenarios; utopian and dystopian contra-visions; reality disjunctures
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