Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 305–317 | Cite as

Anticipating ethical issues in emerging IT

  • Philip A. E. Brey
Original Paper


In this essay, a new approach to the ethics of emerging information technology will be presented, called anticipatory technology ethics (ATE). The ethics of emerging technology is the study of ethical issues at the R&D and introduction stage of technology development through anticipation of possible future devices, applications, and social consequences. In the essay, I will first locate emerging technology in the technology development cycle, after which I will consider ethical approaches to emerging technologies, as well as obstacles in developing such approaches. I will argue that any sound approach must centrally include futures studies of technology. I then present ATE and some applications of it to emerging information technologies. In ATE, ethical analysis is performed at three levels, the technology, artifact and application levels, and at each levels distinct types of ethical questions are asked. ATE analyses result in the identification and evaluation of a broad range of ethical issues that can be anticipated in relation to an emerging information technology. This ethical analysis can then be used for ethical recommendations for design or governance.


Anticipatory technology ethics Emerging technologies Uncertainty Futures studies Forecasting Technology assessment Ethical impact assessment Design Governance Responsible research & innovation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, School of Behavioral SciencesUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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