Thursday, March 6, 2014

What is Pervasive ICT?

I wrote this description of PICT for the 3 (!) events in which I participated at the 2014 annual meeting of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics. - Ken

Pervasive information and communication technology (PICT) is similar to ubiquitous computing (or ubicomp), pervasive computing, everyware, and ambient intelligence (AmI); it includes many different concrete artifacts, including sensors, tablets, and smartphones. Three characteristics distinguish PICT:
  • It is, or could be, anywhere and everywhere – buildings, billboards, floors, restrooms, purses, pockets, coffee makers, pacemakers, eyeglasses, and the kitchen sink. 
  • It detects, collects, organizes, acts upon, and transmits information, often wirelessly on the Internet. 
  • Its presence and operation is often undetected by casual users, whether hidden physically (e.g., computer chips embedded in automobiles) or functionally. Functional invisibility occurs when a function or use of the technology is not announced (e.g., tracking online behavior), announced in a cryptic fashion (as in most terms of use), or becomes ambient through a process of familiarization, such as when smartphones become as ordinary as wallets and Facebook becomes a way of life. 
Ethical challenges posed by PICT are new and emerging, as are the technologies themselves. Our panels will be exercises in anticipatory ethics – “ethical analysis aimed at influencing the development of new technologies.”[1]

[1] Johnson, Deborah G. 2010. The role of ethics in science and engineering. Trends in Biotechnology 28(12): 589–590.

Ken Pimple, PAIT Project Director

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