Digital Ethics Report

Digital Ethics Report

Key Takeaways from the IoTUK Digital Ethics Report

Digital ethics, which encompasses the study and  valuation of moral problems, related to data, algorithms and corresponding practices, is  emerging as an important new area of thought, and one that spans academia, business and culture. This is hardly surprising: with the rapid growth of the digital economy and, effectively, the emergence of a new digital culture, a corresponding set of risks is also present. This new digital culture brings with it huge opportunities to improve private and public life, however it is also coupled with significant ethical challenges.

This interest in digital ethics forms part of a wider trend. Across society as a whole, there’s a growing awareness of ethical issues, particularly in areas such as interaction between the genders and in animal welfare. Yet such is the pace of change in the digital world that new ethical frameworks are urgently required. As noted in a paper by Professor Floridi and Dr Taddeo of the Digital Ethics Lab (DELab) at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), University of Oxford, three elements in particular are most relevant: the extensive use of large data sets; the growing reliance on algorithms to perform tasks, shape choices and make decisions; and the gradual reduction of human involvement and even oversight over many automatic processes. Together, these areas pose significant challenges in terms of fairness, responsibility, equality and respect for human rights.

While each is important in its own right, the three elements are also closely related. For example, analyses focusing on data privacy will also address issues involving consent, the auditing of algorithms and professional responsibilities. Likewise, ethics relating to algorithms often involves analyses of the responsibilities of their designers, developers, users and adopters. As a result, it is becoming increasingly clear that digital ethics must address the three axes together in order to be fully effective.

This Insight Report will describe why digital ethics is needed and how organisations across a range of sectors are applying ethical practices to their operations, as well as some of the risks and opportunities. It will also provide examples of guidelines drawn up to address digital ethics and information about the help that is available to SMEs.

Click below to read the Digital Ethics Report.

IoTUK Staff
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