In the past decades, societies have been faced with dramatic social, cultural, economic and political shifts brought about by the spread of digital technologies.
With novel technologies permeating the structural elements of society and bringing about fundamental and irreversible shifts in how we live our lives, there is a growing demand for a robust digital ethics to guide the development, implementation and oversight of these technologies with the explicit objective to directly benefit society and limit harm. Societies are undergoing perhaps a perpetual digital transformation; a robust digital ethics must accompany such dramatic changes to society.
In 1985, James Moor wrote an award-winning essay that argued for the special status of what he called “computer ethics” as a field of study in its own right. He defines this as the “analysis of the nature and social impact of computer technology and the corresponding formulation and justification of policies for the ethical use of such technology.” Hence the goal of a mature digital ethics is to rest on a form of analysis that can predict or explain the impact of the emerging technologies on society and prescribe policy to ensure socially desirable outcomes. Moor’s analysis of the issues facing the development and institutional application of digital ethics is still highly relevant today.
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