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Is technology innocent? Holding technologies to moral account

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2 Author(s)
Arnold, M. ; Sch. of Social & Environ. Enquiry, Univ. of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC ; Pearce, C.

Sophisticated technologies - in different times, this could be a stone axe, or a computer system - are important to humans in cultural, economic, and existential terms. The performance of these technologies requires careful assessment. Some forms of technology assessment are fine-grained and small-scale, attending to specific technologies in specific contexts (for example, HCI evaluations, usability studies, and user-centered design methods), while other approaches are more sweeping, and critique technology in epochal terms, rather than focusing this or that example. It is proposed here that critical assessments of technology should hold sophisticated artifacts to moral account. The normative standards by which technologies are judged are thus extended from exclusively instrumental concerns, to the non- instrumental realm. Technologies must be held morally accountable for their actions, in order for those actions to be assessed appropriately.

Published in:

Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:27 ,  Issue: 2 )