Ethics for People Who Work in Tech  book cover
1st Edition

Ethics for People Who Work in Tech

ISBN 9781003088776
Published October 28, 2022 by Chapman & Hall
224 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book is for people who work in the tech industry—computer and data scientists, software developers and engineers, designers, and people in business, marketing or management roles. It is also for people who are involved in the procurement and deployment of advanced applications, algorithms, and AI systems, and in policy making. Together, they create the digital products, services, and systems that shape our societies and daily lives. The book’s aim is to empower people to take responsibility, to ‘upgrade’ their skills for ethical reflection, inquiry, and deliberation. It introduces ethics in an accessible manner with practical examples, outlines of different ethical traditions, and practice-oriented methods. Additional online resources are available at:

Table of Contents

Part I Motivation and key concepts. 1 A humanistic approach. 2 What do we mean with ethics? 3 Is technology a neutral tool? 4 Value, wellbeing, and economics. 5 The problem with the ‘Trolley Problem’. 6 Privacy is about more than ‘privacy’. 7 What is your responsibility? Part II Different ethical perspectives. 8 Software for self-driving cars. 9 Consequences and outcomes. 10 Cameras in public spaces. 11 Duties and rights. 12 Smart devices in our homes. 13 Relationships and care. 14 A social media app. 15 Virtues and flourishing. Part III Methods to integrate ethics. 16 Methods to ‘do ethics’ in your project. 17 Human-Centred Design. 18 Value Sensitive Design. 19 Responsible Innovation. 20 What does your next project look like? 21 Exemplars. Notes and further reading. Gratitude. About the author. Index.

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Marc Steen is Senior Research Scientist at TNO, a leading research and technology organization in The Netherlands.

Link to Marc’s recent talk at Big Data Analytics, London:


"It is often said that ethics should be integrated in technical projects and a growing number of people in tech recognize this need, but it remains a challenge to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Ethics for People Who Work in Tech directly addresses those tech people who take up this challenge. It offers helpful guidance for doing ethics not only with the head but – as the author stresses – also with heart and hands. It does not tell tech people what to do but respectfully supports them with their reflections and deliberations by asking specific questions, offering a range of methods such as value sensitive design and responsible innovation, and – somewhat surprisingly – listing some exemplary, virtuous people. Marc Steen patiently explains what ethics is about, presenting a vision of tech ethics as a reflective and deliberative process that is very practical and that is not only about theory but also about organizing and, especially about people. Taking the reader on a journey from topics such as sustainable development and the problem of responsibility, and linking discussions about different ethical perspectives – for example virtue ethics – to concrete examples such as self-driving cars and smart devices, Steen effortlessly succeeds in communicating some key lessons from thinking about technology ethics to practitioners in the field. Highly recommended for tech professionals and anyone interested in how to integrate ethics into tech projects and innovation processes."

--Mark Coeckelbergh, Professor of Philosophy of Media and Technology, University of Vienna. Author of Introduction to Philosophy of Technology


"Ethics for People Who Work in Tech is the resource that a growing chorus of professionals and practitioners have been asking for: a staggeringly clear, accessible, richly comprehensive and engaging guide to understanding how ethics meets practice for those who build, use or deploy technology in their work. Yet the book remains deeply engaged with and respectful of the diverse traditions and theories in which humans have sought ethical knowledge. Filled with compelling examples, scenarios, case studies and exercises for ethical learning and reflection by individual professionals and teams, this book brings ethics down from the ivory tower of theory and abstraction, and into the project or design space where it can do its work in the world."

-- Shannon Vallor, Baillie Gifford Professor in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence, The University of Edinburgh