Big data ethics, machine ethics or information ethics? Navigating the maze of applied ethics in IT

by   Niina Zuber, et al.
Technische Universität München

Digitalization efforts are rapidly spreading across societies, challenging new and important ethical issues that arise from technological development. Software developers, designers and managerial decision-makers are ever more expected to consider ethical values and conduct normative evaluations when building digital products. Yet, when one looks for guidance in the academic literature one encounters a plethora of branches of applied ethics. Depending on the context of the system that is to be developed, interesting subfields like big data ethics, machine ethics, information ethics, AI ethics or computer ethics (to only name a few) may present themselves. In this paper we want to offer assistance to any member of a development team by giving a clear and brief introduction into two fields of ethical endeavor (normative ethics and applied ethics), describing how they are related to each other and, finally, provide an ordering of the different branches of applied ethics (big data ethics, machine ethics, information ethics, AI ethics or computer ethics etc.) which have gained traction over the last years. Finally, we discuss an example in the domain of facial recognition software in the domain of medicine to illustrate how this process of normative analysis might be conducted.


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