In this paper we discuss the social and ethical issues that arise as a result of digitization based on six dominant technologies: Internet of Things, robotics, biometrics, persuasive technology, virtual & augmented reality, and digital platforms. We highlight the many developments in the digitizing society that appear to be at odds with six recurring themes revealing from our analysis of the scientific literature on the dominant technologies: privacy, autonomy, security, human dignity, justice, and balance of power. This study shows that (...) the new wave of digitization is putting pressure on these public values. In order to effectively shape the digital society in a socially and ethically responsible way, stakeholders need to have a clear understanding of what such issues might be. Supervision has been developed the most in the areas of privacy and data protection. For other ethical issues concerning digitization such as discrimination, autonomy, human dignity and unequal balance of power, the supervision is not as well organized. (shrink)
Digital energy platforms play a central role in the transition toward a more sustainable energy system. This research explores the effect of digital energy platforms on public values. We developed and tested a novel public value framework, combining values already embedded in energy and digitalization regulations and emerging values that have become more relevant in recent debates. We analyzed value changes and potential value tensions. We found that sustainability is prioritized, security is broadened to include cybersecurity, and values relevant for (...) digital technologies, such as control over technology, have also become relevant for the energy system. This has resulted in three value tensions: preserving a well-functioning energy system, self-determination, and ensuring a level playing field and public control. A sustainable energy system requires governments to address these value changes, value tensions, and connected societal and political challenges related to the implementation of digital energy platforms. (shrink)
In the last decade we have entered the era of remote controlled military technology. The excitement about this new technology should not mask the ethical questions that it raises. A fundamental ethical question is who may be held responsible for civilian deaths. In this paper we will discuss the role of the human operator or so-called ‘cubicle warrior’, who remotely controls the military robots behind visual interfaces. We will argue that the socio-technical system conditions the cubicle warrior to dehumanize the (...) enemy. As a result the cubicle warrior is morally disengaged from his destructive and lethal actions. This challenges what he should know to make responsible decisions (the so-called knowledge condition). Nowadays and in the near future, three factors will influence and may increase the moral disengagement even further due to the decrease of locus of control orientation: (1) photo shopping the war; (2) the moralization of technology; (3) the speed of decision-making. As a result, cubicle warriors cannot be held reasonably responsible anymore for the decisions they make. (shrink)
In this article we briefly summarize how converging technologies challenge elements of the existing symbolic order, as shown in the contributions to this special issue. We then identify the vision of ‘life as a do it yourself kit’ as a common denominator in the various forms of convergence and proceed to show how this vision provokes unrest and debate about existing moral frameworks and taboos. We conclude that, just as the problems of the industrial revolution sparked off the now broadly (...) established ideal of sustainability the converging technologies should be governed by the ideal of ‘human sustainability’. The essence of this ideal is formed by the ongoing discussion about the extent to which we may, or should want to, ‘make’ our environment and ourselves, and when it is better to simply accept what is given and what happens to us. (shrink)
Timely public engagement in science presents a broad challenge. It includes more than research into the ethical, legal and social dimensions of science and state-initiated citizen’s participation. Introducing a public perspective on science while safeguarding its public value involves a diverse set of actors: natural scientists and engineers, technology assessment institutes, policy makers, social scientists, citizens, interest organisations, artists, and last, but not least, politicians.