Wednesday, January 8, 2014


The PICT book will be featured three times at the upcoming 23rd annual meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE). Registration fees increase January 17; act now to secure your place!

The meeting will convene at the  Hyatt Regency Jacksonville, Riverfront Hotel in Jacksonville, Florida on February 27-March 2, 2014.

If you need further incentive to attend the APPE meeting, check out Promoting Research Integrity: A Workshop for Research Faculty and Administrators.

The events

Author Meets the Critics - Two eminent scholars will rip the book apart, I and two of the contributors will put up a brilliant defense, and the audience will set us all straight. The critics are Joseph R. Herkert, Arizona State U., and Kenneth W. Goodman, U. of Miami. The defenders are Cynthia M. Jones, U. of Texas-Pan American; Donald R. Searing, Syncere Systems; and me. The titles and abstracts of our chapters can be found below. Date and time TBA.

Lunch with an Author - "The authors and their book titles are listed in the program and conference attendees sign-up in advance to have lunch with [the author(s)] in the hotel banquet hall (usually 8-10 people sitting at a round table.)" February 28 or March 1, noonish.

Author Reception and Book Signing - Friday, February 28, 6:30-7:30 p.m.,  just before the banquet.

The chapters

Kenneth D. Pimple, Chapter 1:  Introduction: The Impact, Benefits, and Hazards of PICT
Abstract: This chapter opens with an extended definition and description of pervasive information and communication technology (PICT) as a sociotechnical system – in brief, an intertwined system of social practices and the technologies that make the social practices possible which in turn spur technological revision and innovation that simultaneously modify or transform social practices in a never-ending spiral. It then describes the following ten chapters. Chapter 2 presents and analyzes three case studies of actual recent events that highlight key aspects of PICT. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 tackle surveillance from three different angles, but together provide a primer on the ethical issues involved. Chapters 3, 6, and 7 focus on health care, an area of significant growth for PICT. Chapter 8 considers a particular type of PICT – augmented reality – and reveals its far-from-obvious ramifications. Chapter 9 provides a different kind of case study as a social scientist describes her experience working with technologists developing PICT with the goal (successfully achieved) of making ethics a design goal. Chapters 10 and 11 focus more narrowly on ethical guidance for PICT.
Donald R. Searing and Elizabeth A. M. Searing, Chapter 2: Three Case Studies
Abstract: This chapter will introduce three real-world case studies involving pervasive information and communication technology (PICT) systems and the ethical issues which can arise during the development and deployment of these systems and technologies. The sensor-effector system model will be used to decompose the larger area of PICT into three areas of focus: sensors, effectors, and the systems these elements form with their control logic. Each of these areas will be examined through a real-world example and discussion of the issues inherent in the pervasive use of information technology in that area. In the first case, our over-reliance on GPS systems will serve as an example of the issues related to pervasive sensors. In the second case, the dangers of computer viruses and worms such as Stuxnet will illustrate what can arise with pervasive effectors. Finally, the Flash Crash experienced by the stock markets in 2010 will exemplify what can occur when sensors, effectors, and their control logic are combined into autonomous systems and deployed pervasively throughout a world.
Cynthia M. Jones, Chapter 6: Preserving Life, Destroying Privacy: PICT and the Elderly
Abstract: Issues of privacy are undeniably central moral concerns in pervasive information and communication technology (PICT), as many aspects of individual privacy seem to be unavoidable casualties of the increased ubiquity of such technologies. It appears that many people make this trade-off willingly, as attested by the number of users of Facebook, Google, and other technologies that routinely mine personal data for commercial use. This large and growing population may take it for granted that elderly people experiencing (or perceived as experiencing) increasing physical frailty, decreasing mental competence, and the concomitant reliance on health professionals and other caregivers should be expected to give up a degree of privacy if it means staying in their own homes rather than moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility. As the end of life approaches, it may seem to many that privacy is less important than comfort. This chapter examines the relationship between privacy, competency, paternalism, coercion, and the elderly – a group that will likely be among the first to have PICT forced upon them in their own homes, probably by their own adult offspring
Kenneth D. Pimple, Chapter 11: Principles for the Ethical Guidance of PICT
Abstract: As used in this chapter, principles offer moral or ethical guidance at a level of specificity between those of foundational ethical theories, such as the Golden Rule or Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative, and detailed rules of conduct, such as the 600-some commandments in the Hebrew Bible or the ever-expanding U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. In this chapter I describe the utility of a principle-based approach and offer a preliminary set of principles intended to provide practical guidance to people and organizations who create, distribute, use, and regulate pervasive information and communication technologies (PICT). My goal is to articulate principles at a level of abstraction that will facilitate (a) the creation of appropriate rules and (b) ethically sound decision-making and behavior in circumstances that no rules cover.
I hope to see you there!
Ken Pimple, PAIT Project Director

Saturday, January 4, 2014

PICT at Ethics'2014

Join me and several of the contributors to Emerging Pervasive Information and Communication Technologies (PICT): Ethical Challenges, Opportunities and Safeguards (known to the cognoscenti as "the PICT book") at the 2014 IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, and Technology (Ethics'2014 for short).

The symposium will be held at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare, Chicago, IL, USA, on May 23-24, 2014. The PICT panel is scheduled for 9:45-11:15 on Saturday, May 24, in Grand Ballroom 6.

The additional panelists are
  • Francis Harvey, U. of Minnesota
  • Cynthia Jones, U. of Texas-Pan American
  • Keith W. Miller, U. of Missouri-St. Louis
  • Donald R. Searing, Syncere Systems
  • Katherine D. Seelman, U. of Pittsburgh
  • Katie Shilton, U. of Maryland-College Park
I'll let you know how to register for conference as soon as that information comes my way.

I hope to see you in Chicago. It will be a grand time.

Ken Pimple, PAIT Project Director