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 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)
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 essay provides a critique of mainstream computer ethics and argues for the importance of a complementary approach called disclosive computer ethics, which is concerned with the moral deciphering of embedded values and norms in computer systems, applications and practices. Also, four key values are proposed as starting points for disclosive studies in computer ethics: justice, autonomy, democracy and privacy. Finally, it is argued that research in disclosive computer ethics should be multi-level and interdisciplinary, distinguishing between a disclosure level, a (...) theoretical level, and an an application level. (shrink)
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 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.
Modern technology has changed the way we live, work, play, communicate, fight, love, and die. Yet few works have systematically explored these changes in light of their implications for individual and social welfare. How can we conceptualize and evaluate the influence of technology on human well-being? Bringing together scholars from a cross-section of disciplines, this volume combines an empirical investigation of technology and its social, psychological, and political effects, and a philosophical analysis and evaluation of the implications of such effects.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 examines ethical aspects of the use of facial recognition technology for surveillance purposes in public and semipublic areas, focusing particularly on the balance between security and privacy and civil liberties. As a case study, the FaceIt facial recognition engine of Identix Corporation will be analyzed, as well as its use in “Smart” video surveillance systems in city centers and airports. The ethical analysis will be based on a careful analysis of current facial recognition technology, of its use in (...) Smart CCTV systems, and of the arguments used by proponents and opponents of such systems. It will be argued that Smart CCTV, which integrates video surveillance technology and biometric technology, faces ethical problems of error, function creep and privacy. In a concluding section on policy, it will be discussed whether such problems outweigh the security value of Smart CCTV in public places. (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 anthology examines the practical role of well-being in contemporary society. It discusses developments such as globalization, consumerism and the rapid innovation and use of new and emerging technologies and focuses on the significant impact of these developments on the well-being of people living today. The anthology brings together researchers from various disciplines, including psychology, economics, sociology, philosophy and development studies. It provides concrete insight on the role and importance of well-being in contemporary society, using a mix of empirical grounding, (...) philosophical rigour and an emphasis on real-world applications. It is unique in that it seeks to understand the relation between well-being research and its application towards real problems. (shrink)
This special issue of Ethics and Information Technology focuses on the ethics of new and emerging information technology (IT). The papers have been selected from submissions to the sixth international conference on Computer Ethics: Philosophical Enquiry (CEPE2005), which took place at the University of Twente, the Netherlands, July 17–19, 2005. -/- .
This paper addresses social and ethical issues in computer‐mediated education, with a focus on higher education. It will be argued if computer‐mediated education is to be implemented in a socially and ethically sound way, four major social and ethical issues much be confronted. These are: the issue of value transfer in higher education: can social, cultural and academic values be successfully transmitted in computer‐mediated education? the issue of academic freedom: are computer‐mediated educational settings conducive for academic freedom or do they (...) threaten to undermine it? the issue of equality and diversity: does a reliance on computer networks in higher education foster equality and equity for students and does it promote diversity, or does it disadvantage certain social classes and force conformity? the issue of ethical student and staff behaviour: What kinds of unethical behaviour by students and staff are made possible in computer‐mediated education, and what can be done against it? Existing studies relating to these four issues are examined and some tentative policy conclusions are drawn. (shrink)
In this paper I evaluate the implications of contemporary information and communication media for the quality of life, including both the new media from the digital revolution and the older media that remain in use. My evaluation of contemporary media proceeds in three parts. First I discuss the benefits of contemporary media, with special emphasis given to their immediate functional benefits. I then discuss four potential threats posed by contemporary media. In a final section I examine the future of digital (...) media and the possibilities available to us in shaping that future. (shrink)
Since the internet's breakthrough as a mass medium, it has become a topic of discussion because of its implications for society. At one extreme, one finds those who only see great benefits and consider the Internet a tool for freedom, commerce, connectivity, and other societal benefits. At the other extreme, one finds those who lament the harms and disadvantages of the Internet, and who consider it a grave danger to existing social structures and institutions, to culture, morality and human relations. (...) In between one finds the majority, those who recognize both benefits and harms in the Internet as it currently exists and who recognize its usefulness while worrying about some of its negative impacts. (shrink)
Since the Internet's breakthrough as a mass medium, it has become a topic of discussion because of its implications for society. At one extreme, one finds those who only see great benefits and consider the Internet a tool for freedom, commerce, connectivity, and other societal benefits. At the other extreme, one finds those who lament the harms and disadvantages of the Internet, and who consider it a grave danger to existing social structures and institutions, to culture, morality and human relations. (...) In between one finds the majority, those who recognize both benefits and harms in the Internet as it currently exists and who recognize its usefulness while worrying about some of its negative impacts.As an example of a positive appraisal of the Internet, consider what Esther Dyson, one of the early enthusiasts for the Internet, states in her book Release 2.0. There, she claims: "The Net offers us a chance to take charge of our own lives and to redefine our role as citizens of local communities and of a global society. It also hands us the responsibility to govern ourselves, to think for ourselves, to educate our children, to do business honestly, and to work with fellow citizens to design rules we want to live by.". Dyson argues that the Internet offers us the chance to build exciting communities of likeminded individuals, enables people to redefine their work as they see fit, fosters truth-telling and information disclosure, helps build trust between people, and can function for people as a second home.For a negative appraisal, consider the opinion of the Council of Torah Sages, a group of leading orthodox rabbis in Israel who in 2000 issued a ruling banning the Internet from Jewish homes. The Council claimed that the Internet is "1,000 times more dangerous than television". The Council described the Internet as "the world's leading cause of temptation" and "a deadly poison which burns souls" that "incites and encourages sin and abomination of the worst kind." The Council explained that it recognized benefits in the Internet, but saw no way of balancing these with the potential cost, which they defined as exposure to "moral pollution" and possible addiction to Internet use that could quash the motivation to learn Torah, especially among children. Even the greatest critics of the Internet, like the Council of Torah Sages, see benefits in the technology, and even the greatest advocates recognize that there are drawbacks to the medium. People have different opinions on what the benefits and disadvantages are and also differ in the way in which they balance them against each other. Underlying these different assessments of the Internet are different value systems. Esther Dyson holds a libertarian value system in which the maximization of individual freedom, property rights and free market capitalism are central values. Her positive assessment of the Internet is based on the potential she sees in this technology to promote these values. In contrast, the values Council of Torah Sages are values of Hareidi, a variety of orthodox Judaism, according to which the highest good is obedience to God's law as laid out in the Torah, and they concluded, based on these values, that the Internet is harmful.Yet, it is not just differences in value systems that determine one's appraisal of a technology like the Internet. Such an appraisal is also determined by one's empirical understanding of how the technology works and what its consequences or implications are. People often come to unduly positive or negative appraisals of technology because they assess its consequences wrongly. For instance, some people believe that Internet use increases the likelihood of social isolation, but empirical research could conceivably show that in fact the opposite is the case. Disagreements about the positive and negative aspects of the internet may therefore be either normative disagreements or empirical disagreements. Of course, it is not always easy to disentangle values and empirical facts, as these are often strongly interwoven.Next to contested benefits and harms of the Internet, there are also perceived harms and benefits that are fairly broadly acknowledged. For instance, nearly everyone agrees that the Internet has the benefit of making a large amount of useful information easily available, and nearly everyone agrees that the Internet can also be harmful by making dangerous, libelous and hateful information available. People have shared values and shared empirical beliefs by which they can come to such collective assessments.My purpose in this essay is to contribute to a better understanding of existing positive and negative appraisals of the Internet, as a first step towards a more methodical assessment of Internet technology. My focus will be on the appraisal of social and cultural implications of the Internet. Whether we like it or not, policy towards the Internet is guided by beliefs about its social and cultural benefits and harms. It is desirable, therefore, to have methods for making such beliefs explicit in order to analyze the values and empirical claims that are presupposed in them.In the next two sections, I will catalogue major perceived social and cultural benefits and harms of the Internet, that have been mentioned frequently in public discussions and academic studies. I will focus on perceived benefits and harms that do not seem to rest on idiosyncratic values, meaning that they seem to rest on values that are shared by most people. For instance, most people believe that individual autonomy is good, so if it can be shown that a technology enhances individual autonomy, most people would agree that this technology has this benefit. Notice, however, that even when they share this value, people may disagree on the benefits of the technology in question, because they may have different empirical beliefs on whether the technology actually enhanced individual autonomy.Cataloguing such perceived cultural benefits and harms is, I believe, an important first step towards a social and cultural technology assessment of the Internet and its various uses. An overview of perceived benefits and harms may provide a broader perspective on the Internet that could be to the benefit of both friends and foes, and can contribute to a better mutual understanding between them. More importantly, it provides a potential starting point for a reasoned and methodical analysis of benefits and harms. Ideas on how such an analysis may be possible, in light of the already mentioned facts that assessments are based on different value systems, will be developed in section 4. In a concluding section, I sketch the prospects for a future social and cultural technology assessment of the Internet. (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)