Monday, March 19, 2007

UNESCO Survey: Ethical Implications of Emerging Technologies

Mary Rundle, fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law, and Chris Conley , a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School, have prepared a discussion paper for UNESCO that deals with the ethical aspects of new information and communications technologies.

The study looks at the semantic web, digital identity management, biometrics, RFID, sensors, mesh networking and grid computing and other emerging technologies.

"The quickening speed of technological evolution leaves little time to decision-makers, legislators and other major stakeholders to anticipate and absorb changes before being challenged to adapt to the next wave of transformation. Lacking the time for lengthy reflection, the international community is often faced with immediate policy choices that carry serious moral and ethical consequences: Increase public infrastructure or permit preferential use by investors? Allow the market to oblige people to participate in digital systems or subsidize more traditional lifestyles? Let technology develop as it will or attempt to programme machines to safeguard human rights?"


"The report further aims at alerting UNESCO’s Member States and partners to the increasing power and presence of emerging technologies and draws attention to their potential to affect the exercise of basic human rights. Perhaps as its most salient deduction, the study signals that these days all decision makers, developers, the corporate scholar and users are entrusted with a
profound responsibility with respect to technological developments and their impact on the future orientation of knowledge societies".
The paper was produced under the auspices of the Geneva Net Dialogue, an international association whose mission is "to lend its support to the operation of human rights in the information society by improving ties between the technology community, the policymaking community, and civil society at the international level".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:32 pm


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