This paper argues that the practical implementation of blockchain technology can be considered an institution of property similar to legal institutions. Invoking Penner's theory of property and Hegel's system of property rights, and using the example of bitcoin, it is possible to demonstrate that blockchain effectively implements all necessary and sufficient criteria for property without reliance on legal means. Blockchains eliminate the need for a third-party authority to enforce exclusion rights, and provide a system of universal access to knowledge and (...) discoverability about the property rights of all participants and how the system functions. The implications of these findings are that traditional property relations in society could be replaced by or supplemented with blockchain models, and implemented in new domains. (shrink)
This chapter argues that the choice of trust conceptualisations in the context of consumer Internet of Things (IoT) can have a significant impact on the understanding and implementations of a user’s private data protection. Narrow instrumental interpretations of trust as a mere precondition for technology acceptance may obscure important moral issues such as malleability of user’s privacy decisions, and power imbalances between suppliers and consumers of technology. A shift of focus in policy proposals from trust to the trustworthiness of technology (...) can be the first step on the way to addressing these moral concerns. It is argued that complexity of IoT systems, comprised of technological artefacts and institutional data-collecting entities, warrants the moral value of distrust as a prima facie assumption for technological design and regulatory measures. Such a conceptual perspective highlights importance of technological measures that can minimise reliance on trust in consumer IoTs and regulatory measures aimed to improve transparency of IoT architectures. (shrink)
This paper looks at the development of blockchain technologies that promise to bring new tools for the management of private data, providing enhanced security and privacy to individuals. Particular interest present solutions aimed at reorganizing data flows in the Internet of Things architectures, enabling the secure and decentralized exchange of data between network participants. However, as this paper argues, the promised benefits are counterbalanced by a significant shift towards the propertization of private data, underlying these proposals. Considering the unique capacity (...) of blockchain technology applications to imitate and even replace traditional institutions, this aspect may present certain challenges, both of technical and ethical character. In order to highlight these challenges and associated concerns, this paper identifies the underlying techno-economic factors and normative assumptions defining the development of these solutions amounting to technologically enabled propertization. It is argued that without careful consideration of a wider impact, such blockchain applications could have effects opposite to the intended ones, thus contributing to the erosion of privacy for IoT users. (shrink)
Self-sovereign identity solutions implemented on the basis of blockchain technology are seen as alternatives to existing digital identification systems, or even as a foundation of standards for the new global infrastructures for identity management systems. It is argued that ‘self-sovereignty' in this context can be understood as the concept of individual control over identity relevant private data, capacity to choose where such data is stored, and the ability to provide it to those who need to validate it. It is also (...) argued that while it might be appealing to operationalise the concept of ‘self-sovereignty’ in a narrow technical sense, depreciation of moral semantics obscures key challenges and long-term repercussions. Closer attention to the normative substance of the ‘sovereignty’ concept helps to highlight a range of ethical issues pertaining to the changing nature of human identity in the context of ubiquitous private data collection. (shrink)
The moral significance of blockchain technologies is a highly debated and polarised topic, ranging from accusations that cryptocurrencies are tools serving only nefarious purposes such as cybercrime and money laundering, to the assessment of blockchain technology as an enabler for revolutionary positive social transformations of all kinds. Such technological determinism, however, hardly provides insights of sufficient depth on the moral significance of blockchain technology. This thesis argues rather, that very much like the cryptographic tools before them, blockchains develop in a (...) constant feedback loop. Blockchain applications are driven by values, normative assumptions, and personal commitments of researchers, which shape moral effects of technology. At the same time these very assumption are often embedded in preexisting moral conception and ethical theories, implicitly or explicitly accepted by blockchain developers. And just as the introduction of one flawed element in the cryptographic application can have mass scale effects, the introduction of flawed normative assumptions can have far reaching consequences in blockchain applications. This thesis argues that we should not take normative assumptions present in blockchain applications as given. Just like the open-source code is developed through the public revision and scrutiny, we should aim to make normative assumptions transparent and be ready to revise them in case we find some bugs. How can we qualify claims that blockchain technologies enable new types of institutions? Can blockchain technologies eliminate trust in complex socio-technical systems? What does individual sovereignty mean in the context of private data control and privacy? Whether property in private data enabled by blockchain applications can solve moral issues of privacy and commercial surveillance? Answers to these and other questions map some of the key normative assumptions present in the current blockchain applications and serve as a contribution to the open-source project of the future society built on the fundamental human values. (shrink)
New network technologies are framed as eliminating ‘transaction costs’, a notion first developed in economic theory that now drives the design of market systems. However, the actual promise of the elimination of transaction costs seems unfeasible, because of a cyclical pattern in which network technologies that make that promise create processes of institutionalization that create new forms transaction costs. Nonetheless, the promises legitimize the exemption of innovations of network technologies from critical scrutiny.
This Open Access book shows how value sensitive design (VSD), responsible innovation, and comprehensive engineering can guide the rapid development of technological responses to the COVID-19 crisis. Responding to the ethical challenges of data-driven technologies and other tools requires thinking about values in the context of a pandemic as well as in a post-COVID world. Instilling values must be prioritized from the beginning, not only in the emergency response to the pandemic, but in how to proceed with new societal precedents (...) materializing, new norms of health surveillance, and new public health requirements. -/- The contributors with expertise in VSD bridge the gap between ethical acceptability and social acceptance. By addressing ethical acceptability and societal acceptance together, VSD guides COVID-technologies in a way that strengthens their ability to fight the virus, and outlines pathways for the resolution of moral dilemmas. This volume provides diachronic reflections on the crisis response to address long-term moral consequences in light of the post-pandemic future. Both contact-tracing apps and immunity passports must work in a multi-system environment, and will be required to succeed alongside institutions, incentive structures, regulatory bodies, and current legislation. This text appeals to students, researchers and importantly, professionals in the field. (shrink)
Ethics of privacy is not a new but rather well developed topic especially in such areas as medical ethics and genome research. However it is safe to say that this problem is far less explored in moral philosophy. Namely there is a lack of consensus on Meta ethical status of privacy as moral value. This essay suggests some clarifications on the notion of privacy in the ethics of ICT and considers possible approaches to research on privacy issues in ethics. Moral (...) relativism suggests that privacy is a conventional value and it is possible to accept that it may become obsolete if confronted with changing social and cultural environment. Such approach also contributes to the view that privacy is an individual value and it may come in contradiction with societal values. Naturalistic approach on the other hand suggests that privacy is a value intrinsic to human nature, as it is deeply interrelated with phenomena of self-identity. Thus privacy is a crucial value not only to individual but to society as well. (shrink)