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Ambiguous Technologies: Philosophical Issues,
Practical Solutions, Human Nature

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Conference - Extras - Panels

CEPE 2013 panels are extremely diverse which will promote broad and interesting debates, as well as important contributions to a better understanding of the ambiguities of ICT (multiple approaches in a continuum process for solutions- as the conference image suggests). These will have similar structures: panellists’ interventions (range from 5-12 minutes) and Q&A with the audience. Therefore, the following step is to present a brief overview of each panel session (order according to the conference programme) in order to help participants decision.

    1. Surveillance: Philosophical Enquiries

Studying surveillance involves raising questions about the very nature of concepts such as information, technology, identity, space and power. Besides the maybe all too obvious ethical issues often discussed with regard to surveillance, there are several other angles and approaches that we should like to encourage. Therefore, our panel will focus on the philosophical, yet non-ethical issues of surveillance in order to stimulate an intense debate with the audience on the ethical implications of our enquiries. We also hope to provide a broader and deeper understanding of surveillance.

    2. From Text to Classroom: A Discussion With by and for Educators on Ethics, ICT, and Teaching and Learning

This session will take the concept of information and communication technology ethics from the text to the classroom, with a specific focus on how to best teach ethics and how to assess student learning of ethics. Three leading scholars of texts used in ethics and information courses facilitate the session, and each will discuss his/her approach to translating theory to practice and text to teaching. Dr. Floridi’s Information Ethics, Ess’s Digital Media Ethics, Johnson’s Computer Ethics, and Tavani’s Ethics and Technology: Controversies, Questions, and Strategies in Ethical Computing are all seminal texts in the field of information ethics and have been used extensively in various educational settings.

    3. Governance and the Policies of Information

ICTs “democratise” data and the processing/controlling powers exercisable over them, in the sense that both now tend to reside and multiply in an increasing number of repositories and sources. Such a “democratisation” creates and empowers a potentially boundless population of agents, from the single individual to associations and groups, from macro-agents, as well as nongovernmental, organisations.

This increasingly “distributed” scenario presents many novelties and it forces us to re-consider the very nature of governance and the relationship between the complexity of the political challenges faced by the new political multiagent systems at a global level, and the need for the right degree of governance required to deal with them successfully. In such a scenario, it seems that old legal and ethical frameworks may need to be not only updated, but also supplemented and complemented by new conceptual solutions.

    4. Research in Computer/Information Ethics- A Gender Gap Analysis and Consequences

Technology democratization enforces a never-ending process of risk/responsibility harmonization through with ethical assumptions. As technology history denotes this process is intricate and ICT is not an exemption, so it is crucial to debate the gender gap within the computer/information ethics community. The motives are simple: in case of an equal gender representation, would new theories or approaches arise? Would both research fields obtain better “outcomes”?

Despite a controversial meaning, the authors’ argument is that “outcome” explores issues like research community openness, communication or behaviour regarding society. Hitherto, gender gap literature focuses on a specific ICT technology, its utilization within different contexts, or the ICT industry. Even, when the topic is the research field itself, the focus is feminist ethics potential contribution instead of understanding the “glocal” grounds that induce such gap.

    5. The Onlife Initiative: Why Philosophy Matters to Policy?

The deployment of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and their uptake by society radically affect the human condition, insofar as these phenomena modify our relationships to ourselves, to others and to the world in manifold ways. The ever-increasing pervasiveness of ICTs challenges established conceptual frameworks through some transformations (e.g., the blurring of the distinction between reality and virtuality).

The current set of concepts and analytical frameworks are thus no longer well suited to address new ICT-related challenges. In particular, because we fear and reject what we fail to make sense of and give meaning to, the misfits between current frameworks and concepts and our evolving informational realities often lead to negative projections about the future. These misfits and fears then further impact on policy-making in unhelpful ways.

    6. Roboethics at the Mirror: Combining Normative and Empirical Analysis

This panel is a self-reflexive session in which researchers involved in robot ethics discuss the struggle they encounter in juggling between the need for through philosophical/ethical analysis and the need to gain empirical knowledge about developments in the field of robotics, including for example dealing with expectations about these emerging technologies. Some questions that we would like to tackle during the session would be: how has robot ethics combined more traditional ethical approaches and more applied or empirical (STS) analyses? And how successful these attempts have been so far? What are the major methodological challenges that researchers addressing the ethical implications of robots have to face? What are good practices in combining normative reflection and empirical study? What are unsuccessful stories? What are the challenges for the future?

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