IEEE Technology Policy and Ethics Articles published in 2017



Ethics, Policymakers and Technology Development

Recent events illustrate the societal implications of ethical lapses

By Greg Adamson

Technology’s impact on society has likely been fodder for thought since humans began making stone tools. But in the 21st century, technology development is taking place at greater speeds and with greater potential impacts on society than ever before. At this point, we have enough experience and historical precedent to enable us to not only consider technology’s potential impacts, but to shape those impacts via public policy. In fact, specific technologies – artificial intelligence (AI) comes to mind – are being developed faster than we can understand their implications and shape their future. Not even the technologists involved know where AI is heading or can forecast its societal implications.

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The Slow Tech Journey: An Approach to Teaching Corporate Social Responsibility  – Part 1

By Rebecca Lee Hammons, Norberto Patrignani, and Diane Whitehouse

There is a need for action research in secondary and higher-education curriculum to focus and expand on the Slow Tech journey for Good, Clean and Fair technology business practices. These practices support our environmental and societal need for greater corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the development of information and computer technology (ICT). CSR policies and practices are optional for ICT companies, yet many of their choices and behaviors have significant and long-lasting, if not irreversible, impacts on our people and our planet.

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Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems: Why Principles Matter

by Alan Winfield and Mark Halverson

In this article, we trace the development of general principles for artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems, from Asimov to the current time, and the standards that are now emerging from those principles. In the context of this article, a general principle is defined simply as a rule, or guide to action, which embodies an underlying ethical principle.

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Upsetting the Apple Cart – Are FinTechs a Threat to Banks?

by Heike Menne-Spohr and Dr. Mohammad Saud Khan

Financial technology or FinTech, is a business that mainly uses software to provide financial services to customers, thereby, disrupting the traditional financial landscape, which focuses more on what the banks will offer and less on what the customer wants. FinTechs are affecting the way people think about banking and how they do their banking. They are attracting millennials (born between 1982 and 2004), who are high-earning customers prioritizing fast, easy, flexible, and inexpensive banking solutions over personal services. Big data companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook are also accessing this market and add an additional dimension to mobile banking.

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Achieving Better Platform Quality

by Mark W. Olson

Value-added developers are highly dependent upon the quality and security of the platform on which they build. As a developer of an automotive IoT product, I am concerned about the potential liability I may share with the platform vendor should our devices get hacked and damages are incurred. Platform vendors do not publish objective metrics about the quality of their software, making it impossible to gauge baseline quality and subsequent improvements. By definition, security holes are bugs, and many product bugs are security holes. Conversely, testing only shows the presence of bugs, but not the absence of bugs. As a result, it can be difficult to prove the quality level of any product. Based upon the number of updates and the many reported successful hacking incidents, there is likely significant room for the improvement of quality and security of today’s software products.

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Mobile-Assisted Data Collection for Effective Policymaking

Notes from a multi-country water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) monitoring program

by Sridhar Vedachalam, Alec Shannon and Kellogg J Schwab, Johns Hopkins Water Institute, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH)

As originally published in the January issue of the IEEE Internet Policy Newsletter

An estimated 2.4 billion people lack access to an improved sanitation option, while nearly 1 billion people lack access to improved water[1]. Lack of access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is a leading cause of diarrheal illness, intestinal worm infections and poor nutritional status in developing countries. The annual reporting of WASH statistics was made possible when the United Nations established the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 to address a series of interconnected issues including poverty, health, sanitation and education[2]. Reports based on the MDGs have constituted some of the most important global development policy tools used to set national priorities for WASH, and the data collected as part of that effort remains the officially cited source on water and sanitation access in much of the world.

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Future Directions in Online Healthcare Consumerism Policy Making: Exploring Trust Attributes of Online Healthcare Information

by Ankur Chattopadhyay and Katie L. Turkiewicz

As originally published in the March issue of the IEEE Internet Policy Newsletter

The internet profoundly impacts the way people search for, utilize, and communicate about healthcare information. Eight out of 10 Americans report searching online for healthcare information. More specifically, 83% indicated using the internet to look up a particular disease or a medical problem. There is an enormous amount of Online Health Information (OHI) available for users. However, there is lack of standardization in setting guidelines of credibility standards for OHI. In other words, there are no standard mechanisms or policies for regulating online healthcare consumerism to help users make ‘trust’ decisions while using OHI. Although, active OHI users make such ‘trust’ judgments all the time, there is no standard policy driven method or approach to comply with the rationale of making such decisions.

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Cybersecurity Law and Emerging Technologies Part 1: The Federal Trade Commission, Reasonable Security Measures and IoT

by Emile Loza de Siles

Emerging technologies and their development, deployment, and business models accelerate more rapidly than do the important legal frameworks needed to govern those technologies and activities.  Cybercriminals likewise run rampant and push the need for meaningful cybersecurity laws forward with urgency.  In this Part 1 article, I discuss cybersecurity law as it applies to emerging technologies with a specific focus on the Internet of Things (“IoT”).  Cooperative efforts between the technology and legal communities are greatly needed to better inform the development of technically-mindful cyber laws and of the technologies that are reshaping humanity and society.

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Internet of Threats and the Context Aware Security: Part Two

by Junaid Chaudhry, Ahmed Ibrahim, and Ali Kashif Bashir

In part one of this two part article, we discussed fundamental issues with the Internet of Things (read it here). In this article, we present some of the technical issues with the Internet of Things that could prove as the downfall of the Internet of Things.

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Big Data, Analytics, and Technology’s Impacts on Society

by Lyria Bennett Moses and Greg Adamson

The social implications of technology have been with us for as long as humans have created technology, which is to say as long as we’ve been human.

In Paleolithic times, stone tools could be used to kill game or fellow humans. In Greek mythology, Icarus’ hubris was enabled by technology. In our time, headline revelations about National Security Agency spying, Anonymous’ hacking, and security breaches at Sony, at Target – you name it – no longer shock us.

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