CFP: The Road to Autonomy? Autonomous Vehicles and Technologies Across East Asia in the Twenty-First Century.
Call for Papers
Workshop and Special Issue on
The Road to Autonomy?
Autonomous Vehicles and Technologies Across East Asia in the
/An international workshop to be held at/
/The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Division of Social
/27^th and 28^th February, 2020/
We invite submissions for a workshop and subsequent special issue of a
Science & Technology-related journal devoted to self-driving vehicles
and technologies in East Asia in the twenty-first century.
Scholars interested in participating in this workshop and special issue
should submit an abstract (at least 1,500 words) by August 30, 2019.
Authors will be notified by September 27, 2019 if their papers have
been accepted for presentation at the workshop. There is no registration
fee. Airfare and up to three nights of hotel accommodation will be
provided. Complete drafts of the papers (comprising a minimum of 8,000
words in English including headings, references and footnotes) must be
submitted by November 29, 2019. All papers will be circulated among
the participants in advance and participants are expected to comment
extensively at the workshop on each other’s papers; discussion is a key
objective and element of this workshop. A subset of authors will be
asked to submit their papers for inclusion in the special issue by
January 31, 2020, with the expectation that their papers will be
published by late-2020, provided they pass the external review process.
This workshop will investigate the emergence and development of the
autonomous vehicle (AV) industry across East Asia in the twenty-first
The development of an autonomous vehicle (AV) industry is important for
many nations as they seek preparedness for the Fourth Industrial
Revolution, an era defined by rapid advances in numerous technologies,
notably intelligent computing technologies such as artificial
intelligence (AI), robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT). All are
central to the AV industry; indeed, across East Asia today, China, Japan
and South Korea already have AV plans and impressive progress with
regard to technology development, infrastructure considerations as well
as policy and regulation.
The excitement surrounding AVs is understandable; they are hailed for
their many perceived benefits. As electric vehicles (EVs), they help
reduce emissions; as ride-hailing fleets, they help reduce automobile
ownership and alleviate urban congestion, thereby improving the
experience of public space; and as self-driving vehicles they provide
mobility to previously marginalised groups such as the elderly and
people with disabilities whom are unable to drive automobiles today.
Importantly, if successful, AVs offer the promise of safety and
significantly less—perhaps zero—accident fatalities. But are these
assessments too optimistic? Is too much expected from AV technologies?
AV technologies are not, after all, sentient beings but assemblages of
various technologies that are “programed” by humans.
The goal of this workshop is to deliberate theoretical and empirical
research findings with a view to identifying regulations and policies
that can facilitate the broad-based development of the AV industry
across East Asia. This may include, but is not limited to, questions
pertaining to business models, ethics, profitability as well as
Broadly speaking, our goal is to investigate how AV technologies are
imagined, conceptualised, designed, manufactured and ultimately deployed
and used. Rather than view the development of AV technologies as
occurring in a vacuum, we wish to pay attention to all agents involved
in conceiving and producing AV technologies, human and non-human, the
dialectic nature of these processes and the underlying values and
judgements explicated by different actors throughout these processes.
Actor-Network Theory (e.g. Latour 2005), for example, seeks to unravel
how technologies become—or are “translated” into—objects that are used
in daily lives and the complex network of actors involved in this
process. Notions of “domestication” (e.g. Silverstone and Hirsch 1992),
moreover, similarly seek to unravel the complex and unique ways in which
a new technology becomes part of peoples’ daily lives in a particular
society by examining the symbolic, practical and cognitive processes
We see two broad areas of initial and promising inquiry. First,
/infrastructure and environmental factors/ and, by extension, the
relationship the AV industry and its technologies have with Smart City
agendas and surveillance proclivities. AVs use a combination of
technologies including hardware (e.g. cameras, radars, sensors),
software (e.g. algorithms that determine behaviour, navigational
systems), mechanics and others; these are both internal and external to
the AV. In fact, there is a continuum in the degree to which an AV
relies on internal versus external technologies to operate; the more an
AV relies on its external environment, the less its need for certain
internal technologies (and the cheaper it may become). Competitive
advantage may reside along this continuum; some nations need to
retro-fit existing road networks to accommodate AVs while other nations
can build new road networks that are AV-ready from day one. In doing so,
some nations can leverage existing infrastructure built for different
purposes—such as surveillance cameras—to fast track AV deployment. As
this shows, AVs do operate “autonomously” at all but are instead
embedded inside complex material and computational networks that hide
institutional and personal hierarchies, relationships and experiences
(Zuboff 2019). This workshop welcomes papers that explore these and
Second, investigations into /human-AV technologies interaction/—whether
as passengers or as drivers of other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and
so on—and how this feeds back into technology conception and development
(Hancock 2018; Stayton, Cefkin and Zhang 2017; Vinkhuyzen and Cefkin
2016). This is especially important given that the industry is focused
on developing Level 4 AV technologies, defined as vehicles than can
drive themselves in many circumstances without needing to ask the
passenger to take over. As this shows, Level 4 AVs necessitate a
fundamental shift in human-automobile interactions and mobility
practices. We are interested in actors’ assumptions concerning
human-technology interactions—and the values these assumptions reveal—as
they go about imagining, conceptualising, designing, manufacturing and
deploying AV technologies. What are the political, economic, social and
cultural assumptions underlying these processes? How might these differ
between different actors (e.g. automobile makers versus software
companies; users versus investors; etc. At the very least, we seek to
identify and discuss users and non-users and their relationship to AV
technology development (Oudshoorn and Pinch 2003).
/Summary of Objectives/
These are but two broad areas we are interested in receiving submissions
on. As the goal of this workshop is to deliberate theoretical and
empirical research findings with a view to identifying regulations and
policies that can facilitate the broad-based development of the AV
industry across East Asia, other topics and questions we are interested
in are (but not limited to):
·How are AV regulatory and policy frameworks developed, what does this
reveal about attitudes toward the Fourth Industrial Revolution and what
path dependencies, national values and other priorities does it
explicate (either single-case or comparative in nature)?;
·How are specific AV technologies developed? Which actors are involved,
and which are not? What global and/or regional production networks
exist? Are there any transparency and/or ethical concerns? How does this
configuration assist AV industry development and how might it be improved?;
·How are AV users and non-users—of private vehicles, public
transpiration vehicles or industry specific vehicles—conceived of and
incorporated into technology development? How do users and non-users
respond to and interact with AV technologies?’ and
·This workshop is interested in autonomous vehicles in a broad sense and
is not limited to private vehicles; we welcome submissions from scholars
researching other autonomous vehicle applications such as public
transportation, logistics and manufacturing, agriculture, , for example.
To submit an abstract for consideration for the workshop, please attach
your abstract to an e-mail and send it to Sacha Cody (email@example.com
). In the subject line of the e-mail, please
write: MMEA AV Workshop: The Title of Your Paper.
Please note your abstract should include the title of the paper, all
author(s) names and affiliations as well as contact information. It
should contain clear information on the research method(s), data
source(s), analytical tool(s) and theoretical framework(s) to be used.
Please note we are seeking original contributions; papers that have
already been published or submitted for publication will not be accepted.
/ NOTE: The organising committee (Sacha Cody and Naubahar Sharif)
welcomes emails to informally discuss ideas prior to the submission of a
proposal. Please write to Sacha and he will respond to all inquiries
Highest priority will be given to papers that combine a general
theoretical discussion with new empirical findings as well as policy and
regulatory implications. Papers may be based on new comparative research
as well as single-case studies, and on qualitative as well as
quantitative research methods.
This workshop is funded by the /Making Modernity in East Asia (MMEA):
technologies of everyday life, 19^th – 21^st centuries/
(https://mmea.hku.hk; RGC CRF HKU C7011–16G) research project. This is a
collaborative research project between The University of Hong Kong and
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The main objective
of this collaborative research project is to establish a new,
interdisciplinary way of understanding East Asian modernity through the
lens of everyday technology.
Workshop participants’ work will be viewed by the broader MMEA team
participants may have the opportunity to liaise and meet with other team
members while in Hong Kong.
Hancock, Peter A. 2018. /Some Pitfalls in the Promises of Automated and
Autonomous Vehicles/. Ergonomics DOI: 10.1080/00140139.2018.1498136.
Latour, Bruno. 2005. /Reassembling the Social: an introduction to
actor-network theory/. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Oudshoorn, Nelly and Trevor Pinch. Eds. 2003. /How Users Matter: the
co-construction of users and technology/. Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
Silverstone, Roger and Eric Hirsch. /Eds/. 1992. /Consuming
Technologies: media and information in domestic spaces/. London: Routledge.
Stayton, Erik, Melissa Cefkin and Jingyi Zhang. 2017. Autonomous
Individuals in Autonomous Vehicles: The Multiple Autonomies of
Self-Driving Cars. /Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference
Vinkhuyzen, Erik and Melissa Cefkin. 2016. Developing Socially
Acceptable Autonomous Vehicles. /Ethnographic Praxis in Industry
Conference Proceedings/ 522–534.
Zuboff, Shoshana. 2019. /The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: the fight
for a human future at the new frontier of power/. New York: PublicAffairs.
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