Only recently has criminology begun to appreciate impacts of new technologies beyond ‘cybercrime’, including issues of digital political citizenship. Such examinations, however, remain limited in their critique that tends to be focused on human (rights) implications of new technologies, and especially privacy. We suggest that such accounts are anthropocentric, capitalocentric, and do not fully consider significant environmental impacts, including the mining of rare earth minerals for manufacturing digital devices; their global transportation; the toxic, wasteful and harmful processes involved; the planned obsolescence of digital devices limiting people’s right to repair; the energy required for data processing and storage, and; the dangerous disposal of e-waste. Using an interdisciplinary approach borrowing from design research, Science and Technology Studies (STS), and the environmental humanities, this paper presents a new perspective, that is, a more-than-human perspective on environmental crime, ecological harm and digital technologies. Notions of the more-than-human inform our examination of the political ecology of digital technologies We argue that we are complicit in the externalisation of the impacts of the commodification of raw materials to support the development of new technologies that takes place under conditions of ecologically unequal exchange. Specifically, the impacts of extractivism are mostly borne by societies and ecosystems in the periphery, and contribute to an accelerating planetary ecocide. Any technological innovation aiming at mitigating against climate change and fostering planetary health and wellbeing requires a new ontology of technological progress which involves a decoupling of technological progress and economic growth. If we are to embrace changes to the way we critique new technology and increasing human dependency on digital systems and infrastructure we need to adopt a more-than-human perspective.
This is a recording of a seminar delivered by Deakin Criminology’s Dr Laura Bedford, Dr Monique Mann, Professor Marcus Foth (QUT) and Professor Reece Walters (in absentia) to the Deakin University Faculty of Arts and Education “Thinking with Climate Change” seminar series on Monday the 15th of March 2021. This presentation covers forthcoming research by the team. Access the recording here.
Bedford, L., Mann, M., Foth, M., & Walters, R. (2021, Mar 15). A post-capitalocentric critique of digital technology and environmental harm: new directions at the intersection of digital and green criminology. Invited talk at the ‘Thinking with Climate Change’ lecture series, Faculty of Arts and EducaXon, Deakin University, Melbourne, VIC.