With our lives increasingly contained in our digital devices they can become incredibly precious to us. As of Monday the 5th of October new sentencing guidelines ask UK prosecutors to take into account the associated emotional or personal value of a stolen item, beyond just the device cost. That means your treasured (or incriminating) photos, your bank and account details, even the inconvenience of having to replace such a crucial part of your life.
But how do you quantify this value? The dependency we create for ourselves on digital devices, particularly smartphones has long been discussed. Does denying an addiction constitute emotional damage?
More interestingly we use apps to ease us through daily life, all the while collecting data on our wellbeing. Mood tracking Apps for depression and anxiety, Apps to change our habits, encourage us to take exercise and be more mindful.
With a therapist in our pocket to relate our fears and secrets to, what becomes the greater threat: the loss of deeply personal information, or the loss of council and reassurance? Can we sue thieves for the anxiety and uncertainty of being unable to compare ourselves to metrics? To validate ourselves against our past experiences and achievements?
What about new kinds of data that our devices can now measure?
With biological data and emotions becoming the latest part of our human experience to be measured by wearable sensors, the legal and ethical dimensions of a life lived via digital devices will run much deeper than you think. And that’s before we even start to implant and merge with technology…
You can find more information in this Guardian article on the new sentencing guidelines.
Or come along to #RE_IMAGINE: the Digital Anthropology Lab launch on October 16th to learn more about ways in which our lives are increasingly blending with tech.