Technology is becoming an ever more important presence in all our lives. As such, the people who build digital products and systems must ensure they create technology that is inclusive. Against this backdrop, Simon Rogerson FBCS explores digital ethics.
The world has become digitised, leading to an ever-increasing range of applications. Global deep-seated dependency on digital technology is the norm, with both winners and losers. This digitisation of everything requires a greater emphasis on what we should now call digital ethics, which can be defined as integrating digital technology and human values in such a way that the technology advances the values, rather than doing damage to them.
In the digital age it is people who change things. It is people who make digital technology. It is people who use and abuse digital technology. The tension between use and abuse is where the ethical hotspots lie. Digital technology can add value to life, but it can also take value away from life. Some ethical hotspots may be obvious whilst others may not, but all must be addressed so that the digital age is good for everybody and for the environment. This can only be achieved through effective digital ethics education and awareness programmes which are relevant to everyday living.
The Ethical Digital Technology Trilogy, published by Taylor & Francis, offers a reimagining of digital ethics education and awareness. It is a world first: the product of my research and practical activity stretching back to 1995. As such it is a ground-breaking synthesis, drawing on a plethora of historical evidence while firmly focused on the future, exploring the landscape of digital technology from a social-impact perspective. The contrasting approaches in the three books allow access to this landscape by everybody from academics and practitioners to the public at large, regardless of age.
The Evolving Landscape of Ethical Digital Technology is an anthology of papers written over 25 years which teases out the ethical and social impacts of digital technological development and application.
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Ethical Digital Technology in Practice adopts a practical perspective to explore ways in which to promote ethical digital technology through good practice.
Imagine! Ethical Digital Technology for Everyone uses the creative arts innovatively to explore the wider issues surrounding the development and application of digital technology.
We must accept and adjust to the fact that we are all technologists to a lesser or greater degree. The trilogy will help everybody to understand their societal responsibilities and obligations, and encourage them to:
- Promote social justice and social care
- Restore reciprocity for everybody
- Benefit the many rather than the few
- Put people first rather than digital technology
- Limit economic gain to minimise potential social and environmental cost
- Favour the reversible over the irreversible
- Create a more inclusive society by reducing barriers and creating new opportunities
Encouraging a strong understanding of digital ethics is key to ensuring the continued digitalisation of the world is a positive rather than a negative force – a goal we should all be motivated to achieve.
About the author
Simon Rogerson has an industrial and academic background. He became Europe’s first Professor in Computer Ethics in 1998 and in 2010 became lifetime Professor Emeritus in Computer Ethics at De Montfort University, UK. He was the founding Director of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR), launching it in 1995 at the first ETHICOMP conference which he conceived and co-directed until 2013. He was the founder and editor until 2021 of the Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society. He sits on several international ICT-related advisory boards and has served on governing bodies in education and ICT.