Abstract In this essay, a new approach for the ethical study of emerging technology ethics will be presented, called anticipatory technology ethics (ATE). The ethics of emerging technology is the study of ethical issues at the R&D and introduction stage of technology development through anticipation of possible future devices, applications, and social consequences. I will argue that a major problem for its development is the problem of uncertainty, which can only be overcome through methodologically sound forecasting and futures studies. I (...) will then consider three contemporary approaches to the ethics of emerging technologies that use forecasting: ethical technology assessment, the techno-ethical scenarios approach and the ETICA approach, and I considered their strengths and weaknesses. Based on this critical study, I then present my own approach: ATE. ATE is a conceptually and methodologically rich approach for the ethical analysis of emerging technologies that incorporates a large variety of ethical principles, issues, objects and levels of analysis, and research aims. It is ready to be applied to contemporary and future emerging technologies. Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 1-13 DOI 10.1007/s11569-012-0141-7 Authors Philip A. E. Brey, Department of Philosophy, School of Behavioral Sciences, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands Journal NanoEthics Online ISSN 1871-4765 Print ISSN 1871-4757. (shrink)
This essay addresses ethical aspects of the design and use of virtual reality (VR) systems, focusing on the behavioral options made available in such systems and the manner in which reality is represented or simulated in them. An assessment is made of the morality of immoral behavior in virtual reality, and of the virtual modeling of such behavior. Thereafter, the ethical aspects of misrepresentation and biased representation in VR applications are discussed.
This paper analyzes ethical aspects of the new paradigm of Ambient Intelligence, which is a combination of Ubiquitous Computing and Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI’s). After an introduction to the approach, two key ethical dimensions will be analyzed: freedom and privacy. It is argued that Ambient Intelligence, though often designed to enhance freedom and control, has the potential to limit freedom and autonomy as well. Ambient Intelligence also harbors great privacy risks, and these are explored as well.
In this essay, a new approach to the ethics of emerging information technology will be presented, called anticipatory technology ethics (ATE). The ethics of emerging technology is the study of ethical issues at the R&D and introduction stage of technology development through anticipation of possible future devices, applications, and social consequences. In the essay, I will first locate emerging technology in the technology development cycle, after which I will consider ethical approaches to emerging technologies, as well as obstacles in developing (...) such approaches. I will argue that any sound approach must centrally include futures studies of technology. I then present ATE and some applications of it to emerging information technologies. In ATE, ethical analysis is performed at three levels, the technology, artifact and application levels, and at each levels distinct types of ethical questions are asked. ATE analyses result in the identification and evaluation of a broad range of ethical issues that can be anticipated in relation to an emerging information technology. This ethical analysis can then be used for ethical recommendations for design or governance. (shrink)
This essay presents a theory of the role of technology in the distribution and exercise of social power. The paper studies how technical artefacts and systems are used to construct, maintain or strengthen power relations between agents, whether individuals or groups, and how their introduction and use in society differentially empowers and disempowers agents. The theory is developed in three steps. First, a definition of power is proposed, based on a careful discussion of opposing definitions of power, and it is (...) argued that a theory of power should have two components: a theory of power relations and a theory of empowerment. Second, an analysis of power relations is presented, in which five basic types of power relations between agents are distinguished, and this analysis is applied to technology, resulting in an account of the possible roles of technical artefacts in power relations. Third, I analyse how technology can lead to or contribute to empowerment and disempowerment, and what resistance strategies are possible against disempowerment through technological means. The theory of technology and power presented in this paper is claimed to be an essential ingredient of a critical theory of technology, which is a theory that analyses and critiques the role of technology in the distribution and exercise of power in society. In the final section of this paper, it is argued that the theoretical analysis of power and technology presented in this paper provides an adequate basis for the further development of such a critical theory of technology. I study how it may, specifically, be used to develop strategies for the democratization of technology. (shrink)
This paper analyzes epistemological and ontological dimensions of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) through an analysis of the functions of computer systems in relation to their users. It is argued that the primary relation between humans and computer systems has historically been epistemic: computers are used as information-processing and problem-solving tools that extend human cognition, thereby creating hybrid cognitive systems consisting of a human processor and an artificial processor that process information in tandem. In this role, computer systems extend human cognition. Next, (...) it is argued that in recent years, the epistemic relation between humans and computers has been supplemented by an ontic relation. Current computer systems are able to simulate virtual and social environments that extend the interactive possibilities found in the physical environment. This type of relationship is primarily ontic, and extends to objects and places that have a virtual ontology. Increasingly, computers are not just information devices, but portals to worlds that we inhabit. The aforementioned epistemic and ontic relationships are unique to information technology and distinguish human-computer relationships from other human-technology relationships. (shrink)
This essay considers methodological aspects ofcomputer ethics and argues for a multi-levelinterdisciplinary approach with a central role forwhat is called disclosive computer ethics. Disclosivecomputer ethics is concerned with the moraldeciphering of embedded values and norms in computersystems, applications and practices. In themethodology for computer ethics research proposed inthe essay, research takes place at three levels: thedisclosure level, in which ideally philosophers,computer scientists and social scientists collaborateto disclose embedded normativity in computer systemsand practices, the theoretical level, in whichphilosophers develop and modify (...) moral theory, and theapplication level, that draws from research performedat the other two levels, and at which normativeevaluations of computer systems and practices takesplace. (shrink)
In this paper, a critique will be developed and an alternative proposed to Luciano Floridi’s approach to Information Ethics (IE). IE is a macroethical theory that is to both serve as a foundation for computer ethics and to guide our overall moral attitude towards the world. The central claims of IE are that everything that exists can be described as an information object, and that all information objects, qua information objects, have intrinsic value and are therefore deserving of moral respect. (...) In my critique of IE, I will argue that Floridi has presented no convincing arguments that everything that exists has some minimal amount of intrinsic value. I will argue, however, that his theory could be salvaged in large part if it were modified from a value-based into a respect-based theory, according to which many (but not all) inanimate things in the world deserve moral respect, not because of intrinsic value, but because of their (potential) extrinsic, instrumental or emotional value for persons. (shrink)
A growing literature testifies to the persistence of place as an incorrigible aspect of human experience, identity, and morality. Place is a common ground for thought and action, a community of experienced particulars that avoids solipsism and universalism. It draws us into the philosophy of the ordinary, into familiarity as a form of knowledge, into the wisdom of proximity. Each of these essays offers a philosophy of place, and reminds us that such philosophies ultimately decide how we make, use, and (...) understand places, whether as accidents, instruments, or fields of care. (shrink)
This essay considers the impact of digital networks in organizations on worker autonomy. Worker autonomy, the control that workers have over their own work situation, is claimed in this essay to be a key determinant for the quality of work, as well as an important moral goal. Digital networks pose significant threats to worker autonomy as well as opportunities for its enhancement. In this essay, the notion of worker autonomy is analyzed and evaluated for its importance and moral relevance. It (...) is then considered how digital networks both threaten worker autonomy and offer opportunities for its enhancement. Three major opportunities (enhanced communicative powers, increased informedness, teleworking) and threats (electronic monitoring, task prestructuring, and dependency creation) are discussed and analyzed. Finally, the dynamics that determine the impact on worker autonomy of the introduction of a digital network in organizations are investigated. A particular model for analyzing these dynamics and their impacts, Bryan Pfaffenberger's model of a technological drama. It will be illustrated how this model illuminates these dynamics by analyzing them as a dialectic of strategies of technological regularization by design constituencies and technological adjustment by impact constituencies. It will also be assessed what role network design has in this process. (shrink)
This paper provides a systematic literature review, analysis and discussion of methods that are proposed to practise ethics in research and innovation. Ethical considerations concerning the impacts of R&I are increasingly important, due to the quickening pace of technological innovation and the ubiquitous use of the outcomes of R&I processes in society. For this reason, several methods for practising ethics have been developed in different fields of R&I. The paper first of all presents a systematic search of academic sources that (...) present and discuss such methods. Secondly, it provides a categorisation of these methods according to three main kinds: ex ante methods, dealing with emerging technologies, intra methods, dealing with technology design, and ex post methods, dealing with ethical analysis of existing technologies. Thirdly, it discusses the methods by considering problems in the way they deal with the uncertainty of technological change, ethical technology design, the identification, analysis and resolving of ethical impacts of technologies and stakeholder participation. The results and discussion of our literature review are valuable for gaining an overview of the state of the art and serve as an outline of a future research agenda of methods for practising ethics in R&I. (shrink)
In this paper the authors argue that many of the ethical problems raised by Ambient Intelligence stems from presupposing a behaviourist conception of the relation between human desires and behaviour. Insofar as Ambient Intelligence systems take overt, natural behaviour as input, they are likely to suffer from many of the same problems that have fuelled the widespread criticism of behaviourist explanations of human behaviour. If these limitations of the technology are not sufficiently recognized, the technology is likely to be insufficiently (...) successful in supporting the needs and desires of human users. We will focus on four distinct challenges that result from this behaviourist presupposition, all of which ought to be taken into consideration at the design stage: reciprocal adaptation, bias towards isolated use, culture-specific behaviour, and inability to manually configure the system. By considering these issues, our purpose is to raise awareness of the ethical problems that can arise because of intelligent user interfaces that rely on natural, overt behaviour. (shrink)