Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Remaining human in the networked world

Matthew Allen

Recommended talk by Matthew Allen:

‘...Computer Says No’: Networks of Information and the Ethics of Discretion

By Associate Professor Matthew Allen, Curtin University of Technology

Book: NSW 31 Jul, ACT 7 Aug, QLD 8 Aug, NT 9 Aug, Vic 15 Aug, SA 20 Aug, WA 21 Aug, Tas 28 Aug,

“Just when is it dangerous to remain silent, and be discreet, when information comes to our attention in unexpected ways?”

We live in a world in which computer technologies are used in networks to permit increasingly rapid and extensive exchanges of information. More and more of what we, as humans, do and think is being expressed as ‘information’ - precisely because of the ease with which information can be transmitted and processed. This networked, digital world offers real benefits and opportunities and yet poses great challenges as well – for ethical and professional practice in situations where established norms, expectations and understandings no longer apply in quite the same way they once did.

With emphasis on the idea of ‘discretion’ Matthew will explore some of the central issues facing computer professionals in a world of information networks and investigate some of the newer problems of being (or remaining) human in this world of computing technology.

What You Will Learn

• computer systems tend to limit the exercise of discretion in human decision-making; and that information networks tend to lead to unintended and indiscreet access to information

• network technologies change common or accepted approaches to making ethical decisions about information

• human identity and involvement in decision making can be constrained by the autonomous operation of rules within computer-based systems

• computer professionals play an important role in guiding society towards a better understanding and use of information networks


Associate Professor Matthew Allen

Associate Professor Matthew Allen established the Internet Studies Program at Curtin University of Technology in 1999, in the School of Media and Information. He is an active writer and researcher on issues relating to the policy and governance of the Internet, as well as its social consequences. He is also a nationally recognised tertiary educator, having won an Australian Award for University Teaching in 2000 and has been involved in online learning since 1995. On research leave from Curtin University of Technology for 2007, he is turning his attention to the meaning and importance of so-called Web 2.0 technologies and social applications. He is the current President of the International Association of Internet Researchers.

ps: for those wondering, "Computer says no ..." is a catchphrase by the character Carol Beer in the TV show Little Britain.

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