Ethics in Internet engineering and research is becoming a key consideration in building the information society of the 21st century.
The design of Internet engineering and research projects are not neutral as some suggest, but reflect human decisions and therefore may create new moral systems in which individual research subjects interact. This interplay of technology and society – as well as the increasingly invasive nature of the Internet as the backbone for social life, the economy, etc. – creates new practices that can impact the lives of individuals in many ways. It is the task of ethics to analyse the impact of technology and guide decision making to reduce harms and maximise benefits.
Generally, computer scientists and network engineers tend to apply consequentialist reasoning to research project design – whereby the end justifies the means – to meet research objectives in the most efficient way. However, hardware and software are increasingly ‘black boxes’ for average people, which makes it difficult for an individual, ethical boards, policy makers, or affected communities to scrutinize the design choices and evaluate the new moral systems created. These stakeholders therefore reason based on deontology, where actions and design choices are considered more important than the achieved goals.
The Ethics in Networked System Research project led by GTC student Ben Zevenbergen will hold a one day workshop at GTC on 13 March where about 25 leading philosophers, ethicists, and Internet engineers from around the world will discuss the intersection of their disciplines.
From 5.30pm until about 7pm the workshop participants will engage with students to discuss some scenarios where Internet engineering projects have been met by ethical dilemmas and consider how to solve the issues.
Prof. Luciano Floridi (Oxford Internet Institute) will open the event with a reflection on the outcomes of the day and explain how they fit into the wider discourse of the Philosophy of Information.
Venue: EP Abraham Lecture Theatre, Green Templeton College
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re going to attend this session!
Note: This post was originally published on the OII's Ethics in Networked Systems Research blog on . It might have been updated since then in its original location. The post gives the views of the author(s), and not necessarily the position of the Oxford Internet Institute.