Ethical IT Innovation: A Value-Based System Design Approach, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Ethical IT Innovation

A Value-Based System Design Approach, 1st Edition

By Sarah Spiekermann

Auerbach Publications

257 pages | 9 Color Illus. | 127 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781482226355
pub: 2015-12-10
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Explaining how ubiquitous computing is rapidly changing our private and professional lives, Ethical IT Innovation: A Value-Based System Design Approach stands at the intersection of computer science, philosophy, and management and integrates theories and frameworks from all three domains.

The book explores the latest thinking on computer ethics, including the normative ethical theories currently shaping the debate over the good and bad consequences of technology. It begins by making the case as to why IT professionals, managers, and engineers must consider the ethical issues when designing IT systems, and then uses a recognized system development process model as the structural baseline for subsequent chapters.

For each system development phase, the author discusses: the ethical issues that must be considered, who must consider them, and how that thought process can be most productive. In this way, an ‘Ethical SDLC’ (System Development Life Cycle) is created.

The book presents an extensive case study that applies the "Ethical SDLC" to the example of privacy protection in RFID enabled environments. It explains how privacy can be built into systems and illustrates how ethical decisions can be consciously made at each stage of development. The final chapter revisits the old debate of engineers’ ethical accountability as well as the role of management.

Explaining the normative theories of computer ethics, the book explores the ethical accountability of developers as well as stakeholders. It also provides questions at the end of each chapter that examine the ethical dimensions of the various development activities.


"… a breakthrough volume; it will stand as essential reading and a primary reference in the further development of ethics and IT design, most especially as informed by virtue ethics approaches."

—Professor Charles Ess, University of Oslo

"A fascinating, remarkable journey about the importance of ethics in the design and application of modern information technologies. Deeply researched and engrossing—a book all innovators should read."

—Professor Alessandro Acquisti, Carnegie Mellon University

"Full of clear and compelling examples, this book is an excellent guide for students, professional engineers, and for managers who want to ensure ethics and values are among the concerns teams account for during design."

— Professor Katie Shilton, University of Maryland

"I will take this book with me to technical conferences and meetings, and also keep a copy on my desk, both to refer to and to find relevant works in the literature list. Ethical IT Innovation is an important book that will hopefully have an impact in academic discourse, and, possibly more importantly, in shaping our information systems in the future."

—Bendert Zevenbergen, PhD student, Oxford University

Table of Contents


How This Book Frames Computer Ethics

Ethical System Development Life Cycle (E-SDLC)

Value-Based IT Design: A Positive Message for IT Markets

Engineers, Managers, and "Ethical Machines"


IT Innovation

Human Growth and Eudemonia through IT

Human Nightmares Caused by IT and a Short Reflection on Good and Bad

End of IT Innovation Based on Functionality

Questioning "Function Hypes"

True Cost of Hype Cycles

Post-Function Hype: Catering to Higher Human Values

Values in IT Design

Necessity for Value-Based Design

Envisioning the Value of IT Services


Future IT Environments: Five Scenarios

Personas Used in the Scenarios

Scenario 1: Future of Gaming

Scenario 2: Future of Work

Scenario 3: Future of Retail

Scenario 4: Future of University Education

Scenario 5: Future of Robotics

IT Innovation Lying Ahead

Positive Potential Outcomes of IT Innovation

Negative Potential Outcomes of IT Innovation


Value Ethics and IT

An Introduction to Values

What Is a Value?

Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Values

Intrinsic Values in Philosophy and Psychology


Ethical Knowledge for Ethical IT Innovation

What Is Knowledge?

Ethical Challenges in IT-Driven Knowledge Creation

Ethical Challenges in Data Collection

Ethical Challenges in Information Aggregation and Knowledge Creation

Ethical Challenges for Accessing Knowledge

Ethical Uses of Information and Knowledge, a Privacy Issue

Summing Up: Ethical Knowledge Management


Preserving Freedom in Future IT Environments

Negative Liberty and Machines

Positive Liberty and Machines

Technology Paternalism and Controllability

Autonomy vis-à-vis Machines

Attention-Sensitive Machines

Summing Up: Freedom and Liberty in Future IT Environments


Health and Strength in the Machine Age

Direct Effect of Machines on Physical Health and Strength

Long-Term Effects of Machines on Physical Health and Strength

Direct Effects of Machines on Mental Health and Strength

Indirect Effect of Machines on Mental Health

Indirect Effect of Machines on Physical Health


Safety, Security, and Privacy in Future IT Environments

Safety versus Security

Safety, Cyberwar, and Cybercrime

Security Principles in Machine Engineering

Privacy and Surveillance


Trust in Future IT Environments

What Is Trust?

Distinguishing Trust from Confidence and Reliance

Trust Mechanisms in Machines

How Computer Scientists Understand Trust

Reputation Systems


Friendship in Future IT Environments

What Is Philia (Friendship)?

Machines as Mediator of Friendship

Shared Life and Learning in Virtual Worlds

Empathy in Virtual Worlds

Intimacy and Disinhibition in Online Environments

Intimacy with Artificial Beings

Final Thoughts on Friendship in Future IT Environments


Dignity and Respect in the Machine Age

Dignity and Respect

Respectful Machines

Polite Machines

Psychological Ownership in Future IT Environments

Self-Esteem through Open and Free Software

Influence of Patents and Copyrights on Human and Economic Growth

Outlook on Human "Doing": Impact of Machines on Work


Privacy and a Summary of the Value Fabric

Privacy and Ethical Knowledge

Privacy and Freedom

Privacy Trade-Offs at All Levels of the Value Pyramid

Summing Up: Values in Future IT Environments


Ethical Value-Based IT System Design: An Overview

Management View on New Product Development

Engineering View on New IT Product Development

Computer Ethics and IT System Design

Value-Sensitive Design

Stakeholder Involvement in Ethical IT System Design


Value Discovery for IT Project Selection

Envisioning with Cards

Envisioning with Scenarios

Critical Information Systems and Reflective Design


Wise Leadership in the IT Project Selection Phase

Why Should Leaders Care About the Ethical Design of IT?

Why Many Executives Still Ignore Ethics

Tough Decisions for Wise Leaders

Utilitarian Reasoning

What Makes a Wise Leader?

Deontological Philosophical Reasoning

Rawls’s Theory of Justice and the Veil of Ignorance

Classical Virtue Ethics

Ethical Decision Making in the IT Selection Phase

Challenges for Leaders in the IT Selection Phase


Ethical IT Planning

Conceptual Value Analysis

Feasibility Analysis


Ethical IT System Analysis

Context Analysis

From Value Dams and Flows to Development Goals

Analyzing Ethical Priorities for System Design

Operationalizing Development Goals


Ethical IT System Design

Threat and Control Analysis

Modeling and Understanding System Design Alternatives

System Implementation


Machine Ethics and Value-Based IT Design

Explicit Ethical Agents

Full Ethical Agents?



Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
COMPUTERS / Information Technology
COMPUTERS / Software Development & Engineering / General