Dr Ben Fairweather

Job: Senior Research Fellow

Faculty: Technology

School/department: School of Computer Science and Informatics

Research group(s): Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH, United Kingdom

T: +44 (0)116 207 8098

E: nbf@dmu.ac.uk

W: ethics.ccsr.cse.dmu.ac.uk/ccsr

 

Personal profile

Dr N. Ben Fairweather is Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, and has been Editor of the Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society since its first issue in 2003.  His interests cover a wide range of the relationships between Morality, Social Responsibility and Ethics (on the one hand) and Technology, Computing and Research and Innovation (on the other hand).  Of particular interest to Dr Fairweather are Environmental aspects and Greening IT; aspects relating to Privacy, Disability and eGovernment (and especially eVoting); and questions of how to promote responsibility and virtuous behaviour in the fields of technology, research and innovation.   

Publications and outputs 

  • Privacy and brain-computer interfaces: identifying potential privacy disruptions
    Privacy and brain-computer interfaces: identifying potential privacy disruptions Wahlstrom, Kirsten; Fairweather, N. Ben, 1966-; Ashman, Helen Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) interpret neural activity, applying it to the control of external devices. As BCIs approach market viability, ethical implications come under consideration. This paper identifies potential privacy disruptions. BCI literature is reviewed in order to identify a BCI typology likely to support a privacy analysis. The typology describes the active, reactive, passive and hybrid types of BCI and, where possible, includes examples that are further classified as existing, prospective or speculative. A review of privacy theory supports an analysis that juxtaposes privacy theory and BCI technologies. The analysis finds that while all four types of BCI have potential for disrupting privacy, disruptions are more likely to arise from the use of reactive, passive and hybrid BCIs. Limitations and directions for future research close the paper. © ACM, 2016. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2908216.2908223
  • How to Shape a Better Future? Epistemic Difficulties for Ethical Assessment and Anticipatory Governance of Emerging Technologies
    How to Shape a Better Future? Epistemic Difficulties for Ethical Assessment and Anticipatory Governance of Emerging Technologies Mittelstadt, Brent; Stahl, Bernd Carsten, 1968-; Fairweather, N. Ben, 1966- Empirical research into the ethics of emerging technologies, often involving foresight studies, technology assessment or application of the precautionary principle, raises significant epistemological challenges by failing to explain the relative epistemic status of contentious normative claims about future states. This weakness means that it is unclear why the conclusions reached by these approaches should be considered valid, for example in anticipatory ethical assessment or governance of emerging technologies. This paper explains and responds to this problem by proposing an account of how the epistemic status of uncertain normative claims can be established in ethical and political discourses based on Jürgen Habermas’ discourse ethics. To better understand the nature of the problem, the relationship between norms, facts and the future is explored in light of potential meta-ethical fallacies faced in the field of empirical ethics. Weaknesses of current approaches to anticipatory ethical assessment and governance are then explored, including the Precautionary Principle and Technology Assessment. We argue that the epistemic status of uncertain normative claims can be understood within Habermas’ approach to political discourse, which requires ‘translation’ of uncertain claims to be comprehensible to other stakeholders in discourse. Translation thus provides a way to allow for uncertain normative claims to be considered alongside other types of validity claims in discourse. The paper contributes a conceptual account of the epistemic status of uncertain normative claims in discourse and begins to develop a ‘methodology of translation’ which can be further developed for approaches to research and ethical assessment supporting anticipatory evidence-based policy, governance and system design.
  • The Ethical Implications of Personal Health Monitoring
    The Ethical Implications of Personal Health Monitoring Mittelstadt, Brent; Fairweather, N. Ben, 1966-; Shaw, Mark Christopher; McBride, Neil Personal Health Monitoring (PHM) uses electronic devices which monitor and record health-related data outside a hospital, usually within the home. This paper examines the ethical issues raised by PHM. Eight themes describing the ethical implications of PHM are identified through a review of 68 academic articles concerning PHM. The identified themes include privacy, autonomy, obtrusiveness and visibility, stigma and identity, medicalisation, social isolation, delivery of care, and safety and technological need. The issues around each of these are discussed. The system / lifeworld perspective of Habermas is applied to develop an understanding of the role of PHMs as mediators of communication between the institutional and the domestic environment. Furthermore, links are established between the ethical issues to demonstrate that the ethics of PHM involves a complex network of ethical interactions. The paper extends the discussion of the critical effect PHMs have on the patient’s identity and concludes that a holistic understanding of the ethical issues surrounding PHMs will help both researchers and practitioners in developing effective PHM implementations.1
  • PHM-ethics and ETICA: Complementary approaches to ethical assessment
    PHM-ethics and ETICA: Complementary approaches to ethical assessment Mittelstadt, Brent; Stahl, Bernd Carsten, 1968-; Fairweather, N. Ben, 1966-
  • A Dependencies Mapping Method for Personal Health Monitoring
    A Dependencies Mapping Method for Personal Health Monitoring Rogerson, Simon; Wilford, S.; Fairweather, N. Ben, 1966- This chapter discusses the research undertaken in developing a comprehensive dependencies map for Personal Health Monitoring (PHM). Included is a discussion of the underlying research approach adopted and how this was operationalized. A new dependencies mapping method has been developed and this is described in detail. Illustrations of the derived tools are given using the PHM analysis undertaken. A summary of the analysis outcomes and the resulting recommendations are discussed. The chapter concludes with some suggestions of ways in which this type of data set can be used in practice to deliver fit-for-purpose PHM systems.
  • What is ‘private’ information while online: a culture effect.
    What is ‘private’ information while online: a culture effect. Al Amri, Jehad; Fairweather, N. Ben, 1966-; Howley, Richard G.; Wilford, S.
  • Even greener IT: Bringing green theory and “green IT” together, or why concern about greenhouse gasses is only a starting point.
    Even greener IT: Bringing green theory and “green IT” together, or why concern about greenhouse gasses is only a starting point. Fairweather, N. Ben, 1966-
  • Alienation and ICT: how useful is the classical concept of alienation in analyzing problems of ICT?
    Alienation and ICT: how useful is the classical concept of alienation in analyzing problems of ICT? Healy, Mike; Fairweather, N. Ben, 1966-
  • The Finnish evoting experiment: what went wrong?
    The Finnish evoting experiment: what went wrong? Heimo, Olli I.; Fairweather, N. Ben, 1966-; Kimppa, Kai K.
  • Employing social media as a tool in information systems research.
    Employing social media as a tool in information systems research. Phythian, Michael James; Fairweather, N. Ben, 1966-; Howley, Richard G.

Click here to view a full listing of Ben Fairweather's publications and outputs.

Key research outputs

Mittelstadt, B; Stahl, B & Fairweather, NB 2013 “PHM-Ethics and ETICA: Complementary Approaches to Ethical Assessment” in Schmidt, S & Rienhoff, O (eds) Ethical and Legal Aspects of Personal Health Monitoring IOS Series on Health Technology and Informatics (IOS Press).

Fairweather, N.B. (2011) "Even greener IT: Bringing green theory and “green IT” together, or why concern about greenhouse gasses is only a starting point". Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, 9 (2), pp.68 - 82.

Carroll-Mayer, M, Fairweather, B and Stahl, BC 2008 “CCTV Identity Management and Implications for Criminal Justice: some considerations”, in Surveillance and Society 5(1) pp33-50. 

Fairweather, NB & Rogerson, S 2003 “The Problems of Global Cultural Homogenisation in a Technologically Dependant World” in Information, Communication & Ethics in Society 1(1) pp 7-12.

Fairweather, NB & Rogerson, S 2003 “Internet Voting – Well at Least it’s ‘Modern’” in Representation 39(3) pp182-195.

Research interests/expertise

  • Greening IT
  • Codes of Ethics (especially incomplete codes)
  • Surveillance, Privacy, Encryption and Electronic Voting
  • Health Issues in Computing (including RSI)
  • Teleworking
  • Intellectual Property 'Rights'
  • The Mass-Market Software Industry
  • Obsolescence in Computer Systems and Software
  • Effects of the Computing Industry on the Natural Environment
  • Ethics of Robotics/Ethics of Artificial Intelligence
  • Freedom of Speech/Issues of Pornography and Censorship/Anonymity

Areas of teaching

Supervising Research Students, Undergraduate Module - Security Management.

Qualifications

PhD (University of Wales, Cardiff), MA (York), BA(Hons, 1st) (Newcastle).

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Editor, Journal of Information, Communication & Ethics in Society (ICES)
  • Associate Editor, Telematics and Informatics (Elsevier Science)
  • Member of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility

Current research students

  • Agyei-Bekoe, Eric WF
  • Al-Amri, Jehad Faisal Othman WF
  • Alammar, Saad Hamad FT
  • Alsamaani, Abdulkarim Mohammed FT
  • Healy, Michael Vincent PT
  • Mittelstadt, Brent FT
  • Wahlstrom, Kirsten Ann PT
  • Aleid, Fahad Abdulaziz A WF
  • Clarkson, Mary Elizabeth PT
  • Plotka, Malgorzata PT

Externally funded research grants information

  • 2013-2016 "RESPONSIBLITY - Global Model and Observatory for International Responsible Research and Innovation Coordination" EU FP7 project producing a global-scale Model and Observatory for Responsible Research and Innovation.   Grant agreement no.:321489  Collaborators: Fraunhofer, Oxford Univ, Technical Univ Berlin, Univ of Namur, Univ of Siena, Univ of Aegean, Univ of Malaysia Sarawak, Univ of Chile, Kyushu Institute of Technology, Signosis SPRL
  • 2009-2012 “PHM-Ethics” EU FP7 project researching the Social and Ethical implications of Personal Health Monitoring technologies. Grant agreement no.: 230602  Collaborators:Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University Greifswald, Linkoping Univ, Utrecht Univ, Callens Law, Georg-August-University Gottingen,  National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), France
  • 2003-2004 “Local E-Government and Social Inclusion” commissioned by UK Government
  • 2001-2002 “The Implementation of Electronic Voting in the UK” jointly commissioned by UK Government, UK Electoral Commission, UK Local Government Association. 

Professional esteem indicators

  • Editor, 2003-present Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society (Emerald)
  • Associate Editor 2001-2011, Telematics and Informatics (Elsevier Science)
  • Associate Editor2010-present International Review of Information Ethics
  • International Advisory Board Member, International Review of Information Ethics ISSN: 1614-1687
  • Honarary Advisory Board Member of iEthics, The Computer Ethics Society
  • International Research Associate, Centre for Business Information Ethics, Meiji University, Tokyo 
  • Member, Nuclear Consulting Group 
  • ETHICOMP International Conferences on the Social and Ethical Impacts of Information and Communication Technologies – Developing conference themes and ensuring quality submissions since ETHICOMP97. These activities continue as a leading member of programme committee, including for ETHICOMP 2013. 
  • Conference Committee: EURAM2012 6-8 June 2012
  • Invited speaker, International Electoral Processes and Administration Conference, Brussels, 14th/15th July, 2010
  • Member, programme committee, Computer Ethics: Philosophical Enquiry international conferences 2003, 2002
  • Invited panel member, international workshop on Privacy Enhancing Technologies, Dresden, 2003.

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