Researchers’ issues in Computer Ethics / Information Ethics studies

(Gonçalo Jorge Morais Costa, Małgorzata Alicja Płotka)

The purpose of this track is to debate and illustrate potential issues or constraints that researchers face in CE/IE studies. Therefore, the track chairs expect an array of multidisciplinary contributions from experienced and non-experienced researchers; and, the interaction among both groups will certainly improve and challenge young scholars understanding upon these issues.

Relevant topics for this track are, but not limited to, scholars experience; research problem statement; choice and research methodology justification; fieldwork issues or constraints (e.g., political, economic, socio-cultural, etc.); contribution to knowledge; what challenges emerging technologies pose to researchers.

Social Impacts of Snowden's Revelations: Worldwide Cross-cultural Analyses

(Kiyoshi Murata)

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed effectively limitless information gathering and indiscriminate mass monitoring carried out by the NSA (National Security Agency), an intelligence agency of the US Department of Defence, and its British counterpart the GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), through the UK's The Guardian newspaper and the US's The Washington Post newspaper starting on 5th June 2013. The revelations contained an astonishing picture of the PRISM program, which allowed the NSA to monitor individual users, not only in the USA but also throughout the world, indiscriminately and in bulk by collecting their communication data such as email contents, search history, live chat and transferred files. It did this through directly accessing the servers of US IT companies including Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Skype. The Boundless Informant program which was operated by the NSA to collect, analyse and store billions of data of emails and phone calls passing through the US communication infrastructures was also reported.

It is alleged that lively discussions of national security, safety and security of societies, personal freedom and privacy have been generated in the world by Snowden's revelations, and that the establishment of EU data protection rules was postponed due to the disturbing news report, based on his revelations, that the mobile phone German Chancellor Angela Merkel personally used had been tapped by the US intelligence agency for several years. On the other hand, a Pew Research Center/USA Today survey found that 57% of young (18- to 29-year-old) respondents considered the revelations had served rather than harmed the public interest, 42% said the US government should not pursue a criminal case against Snowden, and 78% answered that Americans shouldn’t have to give up privacy and freedom in order to be safe from terrorism. Given that the contents of Snowden's revelation can provoke controversy on the future of democracy, freedom, privacy, national security and international community, these allegations and survey results may raise sympathy of many people living in democratic countries. However, this may not necessarily be the case in all countries. This track aims at conducting worldwide cross-cultural analyses of social impacts of Snowden's revelations focusing on young people's awareness of and interest in the revelations and their social meaning.

Digital Do-It-Yourself (DiDIY)

(Vincent C. Müller)

Digital Do-It-Yourself (DiDIY) is a new socio-technological phenomenon which stems from the availability of digital devices to the non-professional that allow the digitally precise reproduction of physical artefacts, thus leading to a convergence of physical (“atoms”) and informational (“bits”) components. These devices together with the growing accessibility of related knowledge and data through open online communities leads to new roles and relations among individuals, organizations, and society; in which the distinction between users and producers of physical artefacts is blurred, and new opportunities and threats emerge. The track will work on the ethical problems and societal impact of DiDIY.

Responsible Research & Innovation in Industry

(Catherine Flick)

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is an emerging model used within the European Commission, across Europe, and further afield to look at incorporation of ethical values in technological innovation. It has mostly been used so far to determine methods and frameworks for inclusion in publicly funded research programmes across Europe, where there are strong incentives for researchers to comply. However, in industry, there are few active incentives for companies to innovate responsibly, and fewer methods by which such incentives might be implemented. Research is needed into the potential for RRI in industry, incentives and motivations, barriers, and other aspects that might influence uptake of active responsible innovation in industry.

This track seeks to encourage investigation of RRI in industry. Possible topics include:

  • Relationships between industry and research
  • Principles and methods of RRI for industry
  • Current practice of RRI in industry
  • The impact of crowd sourcing, social media, and other technologies on RRI in industry
  • Potential incentives and motivators that could be used to encourage RRI in industry
  • Barriers to uptake of RRI in industry
  • Relationships and synergies between RRI and Corporate Social Responsibility, standards, etc.

ICT and Society: social accountability, professional ethics and the challenges of virtuality and the cloud

(Diane Whitehouse, Penny Duquenoy, Kai Kimppa, David Kreps, Norberto Patrignani)

It is commonplace to say that today's information society poses societal, ethical and professional challenges to those working in the field of computing. IFIP's technical committee 9 (on ICT and Society) is keen to select two very specific technical challenges, and to explore the issues relating to social accountability and professional ethics in relation to them through a panel and the presentation of relevant papers. The two examples to be explored could be (1) Virtuality and Society, and (2) Cloud Computing, entitled as follows:

Virtuality and Society: Virtuality constitutes both the social and the technical modes of existence. This strand of the track will explore the globality of virtuality; the complex, emergent and changing nature of this field; and act as a location for transdisciplinary work on virtuality.

Cloud Computing and Society: Social and Ethical Aspects: If technology and society really co-shape each other, then what kind of society is likely to emerge from the hyper-centralization and reduced transparency of cloud architectures? What possibilities are there in the future for a human-centric form of cloud computing?

Teaching and professional ethics

(Malgorzata Plotka, Gonçalo Jorge Morais Costa)

Discussion on computer scientists’ awareness about their activities consequences, or real IT employers' expectations (such as the ability to work in groups) should be an important part of computer science education. Students should be well prepared to be professional and responsible, since their work may potentially affect thousands or millions of users. Besides, temptations are several as for instance misuse somebody’s resources or non-compliance with technical requirements, which violent users or clients trust.

Education (in any educational stage) is not a question to obtain a degree or a certificate, because it is not just an indicator of acquired knowledge. The educational process (especially discussed in the article ‘SP’) is not merely a process of knowledge transfer, but a space to discuss or debate the most difficult issues since learners should be encouraged to look for the answer(s) themselves. Any answer can be good if the time and opportunity to think and looking for adequate arguments is given; and, inconvenient words are pertinent a greater good. These courses require mutual learning: (i) learners from teachers; (ii) learners from learners (iii) teachers from teachers; and, (iv) teachers from their learners. It should also consist in sharing with members of different communities like ETHICOMP CEPE or IFIP their lecturing experiences on social and ethical implications of ICT. Does education really helps students’ professional work?

Open track

(Mark Coeckelbergh)

This track caters for topics that are not covered by any of the other tracks.
Philosophical, other academic as well as practice-oriented papers are all welcome in this track.

New ideas on bringing people together / novel formats

(Andy Bissett)

This track aims to bring together new ideas and allow participants to to exchange these using alternative formats such as pecha kucha, speed dating. The first day of the conference will be dedicated to this novel format. This track is particularly suitable to individuals who are not in the business of writing academic papers but who want to exchange ideas about ethics and computing.

Abstract submitted to this track will not necessarily be expected to lead to full paper submissions.

Robot Ethics

(Kathleen Richardson)

The Ethics of Robotics is an exciting growth area as robots become an increasing part of everyday life: from advances in robotics in industry, the workplace and the military, to the developments in robotics for the more intimate spheres of human life as companions, carers and as therapeutic agents.

We invite papers to reflect on the ethics of robots in all these areas, and ask contributors to propose papers that reflect on the way robots are raising new questions about human-machine culture, relationality and phenomenal questions of human existence.

We are interested in the ways in which the ethics of care, human existence, human companionship, warfare and work are reshaped by robotics.

We invite papers to reflect on these themes and encourage papers from philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists and others and encourage new perspectives from fields as diverse as feminism, dialogical phenomenology, psychotherapy, arts and humanities as well as the classical domains of AI research, cognitive science and robotic fields.

Track Topics Welcomed:

  • Robots as therapeutic agents
  • Robots in the military
  • Robots and the changing workplace
  • Robots as companions for adults with attachment difficulties
  • Robots and empathy
  • Robots in arts and the humanities

Some papers from the Track will, if relevant to the topic, can submit an abstract for consideration to be part of a:

Special Issue AI&Society (2015)

"I"Robot? Rethinking the I-You relation through dialogical phenomenology in the Ethics of AI and Robotics.

This Special Issue: "I"Robot? Rethinking the I-You relation through dialogical phenomenology in the Ethics of AI and Robotics will address issues in dialogical philosophy (Buber), concerning the nature of “I” and “You” and the relatedness between them (Buber, Stawarska, Husserl, Wittgenstein, Derrida).

AI robotic scientists develop embodied agents (robots) with a (potential) viewpoint to interact with humans. We will explore what kinds of “I” models of consciousness are shaping robots. Contemporary studies in developmental psychology/psychotherapy (e.g., attachment theory and development theory), philosophy (Stawarska) and other fields are challenging the detached “I” model of subjectivity. However, the dialogical model does not propose fusion of the “I” with the “You” or a ‘Cyborg’ (Haraway) model of human-machine integration but relationship between the “I” and “You” mediated by dialogue, experience, presence and mutuality. The Special Issue will explore if AI Robotics is excessively reliant on egocentric models of a disembodied "I" (e.g., Theory of Mind, "I" consciousness) coming into relation with another disembodied “I” as the “You” and other “She/He/It, We, You, They’. To what extent can dialogical phenomenology offer new directions for considering subjectivity and a move away from the Cartesian “I”  (I think therefore I am) attached to the pronoun “I”, as lone entity to reflect on human consciousness and subjectivity? (Stawarska 2009)

This special issue will draw on the ground breaking work of Martin Buber’s dialogical phenomenology of I and Thou (1937) to explore I-You relatedness and I-You separation (I-It). We encourage authors to submit papers on the ethics of AI and Robotics by reference to the dialogical tradition. Moreover, dialogical philosophy provides a unique framework for reflecting on the role of speech and silence, listening and talking, presence and absence, embodiment and disembodiment in radically new ways. All these themes that have significant bearing on the ways robots are developed, imagined and become part of lived human existence.

Abstracts and, where appropriate, full papers will be submitted and reviewed on the following here.







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