Engineers, philosophers and sociologists release ethical design guidelines for future technology

Tech Xplore | Dec. 26, 2017

By Rafael A Calvo And Dorian Peters

If kids spend hours a day speaking to digital personal assistant Alexa, how will this affect the way they connect to real people? When a self-driving car runs over a pedestrian, who do you take to court? Is it okay to manipulate people’s emotions if it’s making them happier?

Together with an international team of researchers in fields as diverse as philosophy, engineering and anthropology, we set out to tackle these questions. The result is a new set of guidelines focused on the ethical and social implications of autonomous and intelligent systems. That includes everything from big data and social media algorithms to autonomous weapons.

The report, Ethically Aligned Design, was released today by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). It is the culmination of a year’s work by 250 world leaders in technology, law, social science, business and government spanning six continents.

IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organisation. With over 420,000 members in 160 countries, it’s the global authority for professional standards related to technology. The latest report proposes a set of recommendations (suggestions) that are open to public feedback.

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