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Dr Neil McBride

Job: Reader in IT Management

Faculty: Technology

School/department: School of Computer Science and Informatics

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

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

T: +44 (0)116 207 8500

E: nkm@dmu.ac.uk

W: www.dmu.ac.uk

 

Research group affiliations

Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)

Publications and outputs 

  • Human in the Loop
    Human in the Loop McBride, Neil This is a comment on the paper by Siponen and Klaarvuniemi concerning the natural sciences. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Robot Enhanced Therapy for Autistic Children: An Ethical Analysis.
    Robot Enhanced Therapy for Autistic Children: An Ethical Analysis. McBride, Neil The use of social robots has been proposed for the delivery of therapy to autistic children. The aim of such projects, of which the DREAM project is an example, is to replace therapists by robots, operating in sensory environments which enable them to detect and respond to feedback from the child. This paper considers the ethical concerns of autonomy, community, transparency, identity, value and empathy to evaluate the ethics of such deployment of robots. In doing so it provides a response to Richardson et al article in IEEE Technology and Society [20]. It concludes that deployment of robots to control the behaviour of autistic children is ethically suspect and should be questioned. The use of robots with children should be evaluated on the basic of the purpose of and process by which it is deployed, rather than the technology itself. Particularly important is the robotist’s empathy with the user of the robot and gaining an understanding of the individual child. The paper suggests how an understanding of the autistic child might lead to sensitive deployment of a robot to help the child manage social environments through supporting the regulation of emotions. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Developing Socially-Inspired Robotics through the Application of Human Analogy: Capabilities and Social Practice
    Developing Socially-Inspired Robotics through the Application of Human Analogy: Capabilities and Social Practice McBride, Neil Socially-inspired robotics involves drawing on the observation and study of human social interactions in order to apply them to the design of sociable robots. As there is increasing expectation that robots may participate in social care and provide some relief for the increasing shortage of human care workers, social interaction with robots becomes of increasing importance. This paper demonstrates the potential of socially-inspired robotics through the exploration of a case study of the interaction of a partially-sighted social worker with a support worker. This is framed within the Capability Approach in which the interaction of a human and a sociable robot is understood as resulting in a collaborative capability which is grounded the relationship between the human and the robot rather than the autonomous capabilities of the robot. The implications of applying the case study as an analogy for human-robot interaction are expressed through a discussion of capabilities and social practice and policy. The study is attenuated by a discussion of the technical limits of robots and the extensive complexity of the social context in which it is envisaged sociable robots may be employed. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Is Information Systems a Science? Rejoinder to Five Commentaries
    Is Information Systems a Science? Rejoinder to Five Commentaries McBride, Neil This paper concludes the debate on the nature of the information systems discipline and its academic practice. I initiated the debate in a paper which I questioned the view of information systems as a scientific discipline. Ten information systems academics responded to this initial paper over five separate papers. In this final rejoinder, I critique and respond to those five papers. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Is Information Systems a Science?
    Is Information Systems a Science? McBride, Neil The information systems discipline has been compared with the physical and biological sciences, suggesting that information systems sits in the same academic space as physical and natural sciences. This suggestion supported by the language and perception expressed in journals such as the Transactions for Replication Research, which refer to “scientific consensus” and the involvement of information systems researchers in “the quest for scientific advancement”. This paper suggests that the view that information systems is a science in which general laws can be developed through the application of statistical surveys, laboratory experiments run and expressed as mathematical equations has negatively affected the development of information systems. It is argued that the nature of information systems is such that it cannot be pitched as a science. Following a brief discussion of the motivation and philosophy that might underlie the perception of information systems as a science, an alternative view of information systems is offered as a deep, complex and multi-layered discipline within the humanities. Dance studies is proposed as an appropriate discipline to twin with information systems. The paper ends with a call for the remobilising of information systems, the positioning of information systems as a social humanity. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version
  • Bridging the Ethical Gap: From Human Principles to Robot Instructions
    Bridging the Ethical Gap: From Human Principles to Robot Instructions McBride, Neil; Hoffman, R. R. Asimov's three laws of robotics and the Murphy-Woods alternative laws assume that a robot has the cognitive ability to make moral decisions, and fail to escape the myth of self-sufficiency. But ethical decision making on the part of robots in human-robot interaction is grounded on the interdependence of human and machine. Furthermore, the proposed laws are high-level principles that cannot easily be translated into machine instructions because there is an immense gap between the architecture, implementation, and activity of humans and robots in addressing ethical situations. The characterization of the ethical gap, particularly with reference to the Murphy-Woods laws, leads to a proposal for a shift in focus away from the autonomous behavior of the robot to human-robot communication at the interface, and the development of interdependence rules to underpin the process of ethical decision-making. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • The Ethics of Driverless Cars
    The Ethics of Driverless Cars McBride, Neil This paper critiques the idea of full autonomy, as illustrated by Oxford University’s Robotcar. A fully autonomous driverless car relies on no external inputs, including GPS and solely learns from its environment using learning algorithms. These cars decide when they drive, learn from human drivers and bid for insurance in real time. Full autonomy is pitched as a good end in itself, fixing human inadequacies and creating safety and certainty by the elimination of human involvement. Using the ACTIVE ethics framework, an ethical response to the fully autonomous driverless cars is developed by addressing autonomy, community, transparency, identity, value and empathy. I suggest that the pursuit of full autonomy does not recognise the essential importance of interdependencies between humans and machines. The removal of human involvement should require the driverless car to be more connected with its environment, drawing all the information it can from infrastructure, internet and other road users. This requires a systemic view, which addresses systems and relationships, which recognises the place of driverless cars in a connected system, which is open to the study of complex relationships, both networked and hierarchical.
  • The Application of an Extended Hierarchy Theory in Understanding Complex Organizational Situations: The Case of FIReControl
    The Application of an Extended Hierarchy Theory in Understanding Complex Organizational Situations: The Case of FIReControl McBride, Neil Hierarchy theory is a fundamental systems approach that offers rich perspectives in understanding the flow of matter and information between different levels of control. This paper offers an extended view of hierarchy theory, which can be used to illuminate complex organizational environments. Firstly, the characteristics of a hierarchy are explored, and the flow of information and resources, the perception of space and time and changing purposes and perspectives are explored. Secondly, the importance of networks, nodes and hubs is examined as a necessary element of understanding hierarchies. Thirdly, the properties of boundaries, which act as filters both maintaining the hierarchy and enabling effective organizations, are discussed. A context for exploring the application of extended hierarchical theory is provided in an exploration of a large-scale information technology failure in the UK government. The failure of FIReControl, a project which was to provide a nationwide system to manage disasters and terrorist attacks, is explored using the range of extended hierarchy theory concepts. The paper offers an iterative process for applying extended hierarchy theory and calls for a greater attention in systems research to boundaries, filters and networks.
  • Virtuous Business Intelligence
    Virtuous Business Intelligence McBride, Neil This paper examines three approaches to ethics and focuses on the development of character and the practice of virtue in business intelligence (BI). The paper describes BI as a tool for mediating the relationships between pairs of stakeholders such as management and customer. Three aspects of the relationship which benefit ethically from the practice of virtues are discussed: the purpose of the BI, the prejudices behind the BI and the power of the stakeholders. The connection between the ethics of BI and the corporate ethics is discussed. Without the practice of virtues, BI may be recruited to support corporate vices of exploitation, exposure, exclusion, coercion, control and concealment. The paper seeks to highlight the importance of ethical issues in BI practice and suggests the development of an ethical balanced scorecard as a vehicle for developing ethical senstitivity. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • 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



Click here to view a full listing of Neil McBride's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

IT service management

Systems approaches to information systems in organisations

Application of virtue ethics to IT

Qualifications

BSc (Hons) Microbiology

PhD (Microbiology)

CertEd (Distinction)

Courses taught

Social Contexts of ICT

Systems Thinking and Strategy

IT Service Management

Research Methods

Membership of external committees

2010 Advisor to the International Baccalaureate Computer Science curriculum developer. Not Current

2012 Member of the OCR IT and Computing Consultative Forum Current

Conference attendance

McBride, N (2010) ICT Service Quality: Qualitative and Quantitative. Keynote Talk at 7th International Conference on the Quality of Information and Communication Technology, Porto, Portugal, 29th September – 2nd October 2010.

McBride, N. (2010) Understanding Data Transparency: Towards an Interpretation through Hierarchy Theory. Poster Presentation at the UK Systems Society Conference, St Anne’s College, Oxford, August 31- September 2 2010.

McBride,N. (2010) From Compliant IT Service to Virtuous IT Service. Invited talks at Service Desk International day conference on “Create a Best Practice IT Service Centre”, Maple House, Birmingham, 18 August 2010.

McBride,N. (2011) From Social Machine to Social Commodity: Redefining the concept of social machine as a precursor to creating new web development approaches ACM Web Science Conference, Koblenz, June 14-17 2011

McBride, N. (2011) Meltdown Creative Science 2011, Nottingham, July 25-26
Alvarez, I and McBride N. (2011) The Ethics of Speckled Computing. Ethicomp, Sheffield, 14-16 September 2011.

Mittelstadt,B, Fairweather,B, Shaw, M. and McBride, N. (2011) Ethical Issues in Personal Health Monitoring: A Literature Review. Ethicomp, Sheffield, 14-16 September 2011.

McBride, N. (2012) Designing for Society: A Systems Ethics for Speckled Computing 10th Workshop on Speckled Computing University of Edinburgh 18th January.

Professional esteem indicators

Member of the Editorial Review Board of Journal of Global Information Management. 2002 - Present

Member of the Editorial Review Board of the International Journal of Information Technology and the Systems Approach. 2009 – Present

Programme committee for 7th International Conference on the Quality of Information and Communication Technology and Chair of Quality in ICT Service Management Track 2010

Case studies

Quoted on Big Data Insight Group March 5th 2012 : http://www.thebigdatainsightgroup.com/site/article/big-data-talk-001-objective-data-analytics

Computing 11th May 2010 It’s Time for Systems Thinking http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/opinion/1859799/its-systems-thinking 

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