Ethics and New Technologies

Course Description

The course is devoted to ethical questions related to development and application of new technologies – predominantly to robotics, Artificial Intelligence and computer science – in numerous areas of human life, as well as to the ways in which standard ethical theories – like utilitarianism, deontology and virtue ethics – attempt to provide answers to these questions. The course also deals with wider implications (psychological, social and legal) of the application of new technologies. Topics to be particularly dealt with in the course are autonomous vehicles, autonomous weapons systems, robots in medicine and healthcare, contemporary methods of data processing, the impact of new technologies on human relationships and privacy, the future of human labor, new technologies and the transhumanist idea of human enhancement. The course takes place in the form of lectures and seminar workshops consisting of short student presentations and discussions.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Recognize ethical problems generally related to the development and application of new technologies.
  2. Identify particular ethical issues related to robotics, Artificial Intelligence and computer science,identify particular ethical issues related to robotics, Artificial Intelligence and computer science.
  3. Compare and evaluate opposing ethical views on various types of new technologies.
  4. Apply standard ethical theories in the analysis of particular problems of new technologies.
  5. Explicate the most important psychological, social and legal implications of the development of new technologies.

Forms of Teaching

Lectures

Seminars and workshops

Grading Method

Continuous Assessment Exam
Type Threshold Percent of Grade Threshold Percent of Grade
Seminar/Project 0 % 20 % 0 % 20 %
Mid Term Exam: Written 0 % 40 % 0 %
Final Exam: Written 0 % 40 %
Exam: Written 0 % 80 %

Week by Week Schedule

  1. Introduction to the course. New technologies from the ethical perspective: robotics, Artificial Intelligence, computer science, Big Data, Internet of Things. Standard ethical theories and their central concepts: utilitarianism, deontology and virtue ethics.
  2. Standard ethical theories and their central concepts: utilitarianism, deontology and virtue ethics.
  3. Ethics of autonomous vehicles. The question of the safety standard. Dilemma between sacrificing the driver and a greater number of pedestrians (the “Trolley problem”). Ethical settings of autonomous vehicles as the problem of collective decision-making (game theory).
  4. Ethics of autonomous weapons systems. Human beings “in the loop” vs. human beings “out of the loop”. Civilian immunity issue. Jus in bello and jus ad bellum doctrines. International Humanitarian Law and the responsibility for war crimes. The problem of proportionality of military force in war.
  5. Technology and human relationships. Robots for companionship and sex, therapeutic robots, educational robots. Problems with anthropomorphic design and the appearance of personhood (autonomy) in robots. “Uncanny Valley” phenomenon. Misuse of robots to manipulate human behavior and emotions.
  6. Seminar workshop. Student presentations and discussion: selected cases and applications of new technologies – ethical aspects.
  7. Seminar workshop. Student presentations and discussion: selected cases and applications of new technologies – ethical aspects.
  8. Midterm Exam
  9. Contemporary technologies in medicine and in care for the elderly and children. Robotic (active) surgery and robot assisted (passive) surgery. The problem of moral and legal responsibility for potential harm. Application of robots as a means to prolong one’s independent life. Care robots as a threat to liberty, safety and human flourishing.
  10. New technologies and the future of human labor. Development of new technologies (robotics and Artificial Intelligence) and their impact on the disappearance of old and the creation of new jobs. Difficulties with predicting and planning economic and social effects of new technologies. The problem of creation of new social and economic inequalities.
  11. Big data and predictive analytics: applications in business, marketing, political campaigns, health-care provision, law enforcement, child abuse/neglect prevention. Privacy issues. The problem of bias in algorithm programming.
  12. Application of new technologies in order to enhance human bodies, minds and behavior. Transhumanism and the problem of drawing the boundary between enhancement and therapy. Dilemma between enhancing human lives and the creation of unjust economic and social differences.
  13. Seminar workshop. Student presentations and discussion: selected cases and applications of new technologies – ethical aspects.
  14. Seminar workshop. Student presentations and discussion: selected cases and applications of new technologies – ethical aspects.
  15. Final Exam

Study Programmes

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Literature

Ruth Chadwick (ur.) (2001.), The Concise Encyclopedia of the Ethics of New Technologies [poglavlja “Computer and information ethics”, “Science and engineering ethics”], Academic Press, San Diego
Patrick Lin, Keith Abney i George Bekey (ur.) (2012.), Robot Ethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Robotics [poglavlja 7, 9, 13-17], MIT Press, Cambridge Mass
Byron Reese (2018.), The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers and the Future of Humanity [poglavlje “Will robots take all our jobs?”], Atria Books, New York
Tomislav Bracanović (2018.), Normativna etika [poglavlja “Moralno mišljenje”, “Utilitarizam”, “Deontologija” i “Etika vrline”], Institut za filozofiju, Zagreb
Patrick Lin (2013.), The ethics of autonomous cars [dostupno na: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/10/the-ethics-of-autonomous-cars/280360/], The Atlantic
Charles Duhigg (2012.), How companies learn your secrets [dostupno na: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html], The New York Times
Patrick Lin, Ryan Jenkins i Keith Abney (ur.) (2017.), Robot Ethics 2.0: From Autonomous Cars to Artificial Intelligence, Oxford University Press: New York
Spyros G. Tzafestas (2016.), Roboethics: A Navigating Overview, Springer: Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London
Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen, Stig Andur Pedersen i Vincent F. Hendricks (ur.) (2009.), 9A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology, Blackwell: Oxford
Eric Siegel (2013.), Predictive analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die, Wiley, Hoboken
Rachel Courtland (2018.), Bias detectives: the researchers striving to make algorithms fair [dostupno na: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05469-3], Nature 558: 357-360
UNESCO (2017.), Robotics Ethics: Report of COMEST [dostupno na http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0025/002539/253952E.pdf], Paris

Associate Lecturers

For students

General

ID 240781
  Winter semester
2 ECTS
L2 English Level
L1 e-Learning
15 Lectures
15 Seminar
0 Exercises
0 Laboratory exercises
0 Project laboratory

Grading System

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