Ethics of technology

How can we responsibly use new technology, reaping the benefits and minimising negative consequences? This is a broad and difficult question, which requires us to translate the abstract values we have for technologies such as explainability and fairness into concrete requirements that have to be met. When is an algorithm fair? What do we need to know to be able to use technology well? It’s our role as philosophers to think together with stakeholders in society about answers to those questions.

Dr. S.N.R. (Stefan) Buijsman

When new technologies are being developed, we often have an idea of their potential benefits but often less so of their risks and potentially negative impact. Additionally, the people who are exposed to these risks are not necessarily the same people as those who benefit from the technologies in the first place. How to deal with the uncertainty about new technologies’ impact and how to make sure that the people who are exposed to technological risks will also be able to benefit from it?

Prof. Dr. Mr. Ir. Neeke Doorn

Why should we trust new technology? This is a time-honoured question in philosophy, engineering, and science. Galileo’s observation of the moon was questioned on the basis that the telescope had “created” the image of the moon. With the introduction of automated-decision systems in sensitive areas such as healthcare, criminal justice, job hiring, education, and drug development, concerns about trust and trustworthiness have taken an unprecedented turn. For this, it is paramount that developers understand the importance of the ethics of technology, the role of our value system, and the limits of our knowledge.

Dr. Juan Durán

The world population is growing, yet we continue to pursue higher levels of well-being. Increasing energy demands and the problems resulting from climate change are only two of the many major challenges that humanity is facing in this century. Whether engineers recognize it or not, in addressing these challenges, they will encounter a whole range of ethical choices and dilemmas that they will have to deal with. At the EPT section we prepare prospective engineers to identify and to the extent possible deal with these ethical challenges. Behnam Taebi

As a field, ethics of technology has evolved from studying and criticizing the effects of technology on society towards a more pro-active stance, from which it tries to contribute to better technologies in a better society. This, among others, implies front-loading values and ethical concerns in the design of technology. Ethicists of technology no longer only want to be a brake on new technologies but also constructively contribute to better technologies, and the aim is not just to prevent harm form technology but also to contribute to social good, and to the attainment of the sustainable development goals of the UN.

Ibo van de Poel