15 March 2007

Ethical implications of continuous life recording

Source: Engineering Ethics Blog <http://engineeringethicsblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/who-needs-digital-life.html>

Inspired by the article "A Digital Life" published in March 2007 by Scientific American, Professor Karl STEPHAN (Texas State University, United States of America) discusses the ethical implications of life recording with ubiquitous systems in his post "Who Needs a Digital Life?".

In his opinion, the ethical issues emerge from dependence and deception. Dependence concerns the user herself: reliance on computer support might reduce her memory as well as her ability to memorize. This dependence is even more dramatic if an outsider alters the data and the user believes that version instead of her own memory. Deception concerns the data: texts, photos and videos representing a whole life pose significant risks if stolen, including identity theft, blackmail, disclosure inducing social harm, etc.

To extend Professor Stephan's analysis, a third ethical problem can be added: permanence, and the associated weight of the past. Fumbles, mistakes, and other embarrassing situations are usually forgotten within days or weeks. Human memory is well done in that way; the ability to forget is a blessing. However machines may keep all data and provide it years later to answer standard queries. Sweeping the event-related data from the hard disk only partly solves the problem because (1) it creates a visible gap in the data flow, and (2) bystanders equipped with the same system may have stored similar data about the event, beyond the reach of the concerned person.

08 March 2007

Robotic age poses ethical dilemma

Source: BBC News <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6425927.stm>

An ethical code to prevent humans abusing robots, and vice versa, is being drawn up by South Korea. The Robot Ethics Charter will cover standards for users and manufacturers and will be released later in 2007... [Read the article]