Abstract - The Information Society 23(5)

The Evolution of Agency: Spectrums of Bioagency and Cyberagency 

Kenneth R. Fleischmann

This paper examines non-human agency, or the capacity of non-humans to carry out goal-directed action. The central argument is that agency should be conceptualized not as a binary (someone/something does or does not have agency) but rather as a spectrum, with degrees of agency. Based upon an empirical study of the design and use of frog dissection simulations (cyberfrogs) in high school biology classes, the author develops two parallel spectrums of agency, bioagency and cyberagency, to describe the degrees of agency experienced by biological life forms and technologies. These spectrums put agency into an evolutionary perspective, comparing how humans evolved agency over time to how technologies are now evolving agency. The paper concludes with challenges for future research to further explore the validity and implications of a notion of cyberagency that evolves over time, can be represented on an analog spectrum, and is independent of human agency.


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