There is a new hype about technology, robots and artificial intelligence (AI) attracting millions of commentaries and dollars. Like in the past, the beast is bi-headed: one handsome head sweet-talking about the end of human ignorance, labour and death, and another, ugly head cursing about the end of human freedom, equality and humanity.

Despite prophecies about streets filled with (autonomous) robots and cyborgs and countries ran by AI, there are still plenty of Johns and Marys in the street and our countries are still led by flesh and bone politicians with average human intelligence, at best. However, a series of recent breakthroughs in science and technology, particularly in the fields of computer science, information technologies, neuroscience and genetics, have brought the spectre of artificial intelligence, cyborgs and enhanced life closer to our attention. The spread of super-computers, big data analytics, increasingly autonomous robots, human enhancing (body hacking, brain stimulations, genetic manipulations) and the embrace of algorithms by companies and government raise a number of important and urgent issues ranging from economic, social and political to ethical and philosophical.

A citizen with a view reflects on the implications of the development and deployment of new technologies on the ideas, norms and practice of citizenship. Enjoy the view!