Friday, 16 March 2007

UNESCO publishes survey on ethical implications of emerging technologies

UNESCO has published a survey of the ethical implications of emerging technologies. The technologies covered include the semantic web and metadata, radio-frequency identification, the geospatial web and location based services, mesh networking and grid computing. For the ‘technologically-challenged’ amongst us (I count myself in this group) the report starts with a very useful overview of the technologies covered. It then sets out two “Infoethics Goals for Neutral Technologies”. These are:

(1) Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; and

(2) Access to Information and Communication (which is split into Public Domain, Diversity of Content on Information Networks and Unfettered Access to Information)

Amongst the recommendations made at the end of the report is the establishment of a community of technologists to protect personal data. The authors, Mary Rundle and Chris Conley state that:

the control of personal data flow will prove pivotal for the exercise of human rights and access to information in the Information Society. This factor is one of the most important identified in this survey of “Ethical Implications of Emerging Technologies” as technology will increasingly have potential to be used to wield control over people’s existence.”

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