Heads in the cloud? Report on the February 2015 workshop held at Middlesex University

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Apr 072015

Is the cloud the ultimate centralised ICT architecture?” was one of the questions posed by Norberto Patrignani, chair of the new IFIP domain committee on cloud computing at a one-day workshop on the challenges of virtuality and the cloud: the implications of social accountability and professional ethics(1).
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 Posted by at 4:42 pm

Workshop on ethics and social accountability for ICT – Final Programme

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Apr 072015

A one-day workshop on ethics and social accountability for ICT

The challenges of virtuality and the cloud:
the implications of social accountability and professional ethics

To be held at Middlesex University, Hendon Campus, Hendon, London (Committee Room 1, Town Hall building)

Monday 23rd February 2015, 10:30 – 16:30

Drinks will follow at the Claddagh Ring pub. Self-paying dinner will be held at Lahore Restaurant, 148-150 Brent Street, London NW4; starting at 18:30.
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 Posted by at 4:39 pm

2015 Workshop on Ethics and Social Accountability in ICT

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Feb 182015

Monday, 23 February 2015, 10:30 – 16:30

A one-day workshop on ethics and social accountability in ICT

The challenges of virtuality and the cloud:
the implications of social accountability and professional ethics

 To be held at Middlesex University, Hendon Campus, Hendon, London (Committee Room 1, Town Hall building). 

This event is a joint initiative between the International Federation of Information Processing (IFIP) Working Group 9.2 on Social Accountability and ICT, Special Interest Group 9.2.2 on Ethics and Computing, and the BCS ICT Ethics Specialist Group. 201502-MDX_Workshop on Ethics – FINAL Programme (PDF, 624kb)
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 Posted by at 6:34 pm

Ethics and social accountability in ICT: key topics for the future

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Jan 072014

Ethics in ICT matter. And the competences to develop solutions to the infoethics challenges of the early 21st century are likely to be increasingly needed.

First of its kind, a one-day workshop on ethics and social accountability for ICT was held at The British Computer Society (BCS) London Office on October 22, 2013. This was a joint initiative between BCS ICT Ethics Specialist Group and IFIP’s Special Interest Group 9.2.2 on Ethics and Computing and IFIP’s Working Group 9.2 on Social Accountability and ICT. It was led by the two chairs, Penny Duquenoy and Diane Whitehouse. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:16 am

Sustainability, social accountability, and computing: a workshop

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Jun 232013

With the support of IFIP Working Group 9.9 on ICT and sustainable development, Working Group 9.2 held a well-attended workshop on Saturday 16 February, 2013 at ETH’s Main Building in Zurich, Switzerland. It followed the very successful ICT4S conference http://www.ict4s.org.

Among the 20 people attending the workshop, attendees came from Australia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Sweden, the USA, and the host country, Switzerland.

Among the speakers were Don Gotterbarn, De Montfort University (UK); Iordanis Kavathatzoupoulos and Ryoko Asai, Uppsala University (Sweden); Patricia Lago, VU (Netherlands); Giovanna Sissa, Universita degli Studi di Milano (Italy); and Diane Whitehouse, Chair IFIP WG9.2 social accountability and computing.

Important messages from the workshop were the need to bring sustainability and environmental topics together with a critical framework for assessing sustainability in a more societal or social way. The diversity of the different disciplines represented, and the potential for cross-disciplinarity research and action was also striking.

On summarising, the attendees emphasised three core topics of future interest to them: change and transformation; philosophy and ethics; and technology.

Change and transformation

  • How can we change products, solutions, and legislation?
  • Openness, engagement, and potential for transformation.
  • ICT products, rebound effects and Jevons’ paradox.

Philosophy, ethics, and the work of designers and engineers

  • Engineers, ethics, and sustainability.
  • Framing awareness, concerns, and ethics.
  • Long-term issues.
  • Reflecting on how society is speeding up; “sometimes we need to slow down”.


  • ICT and its unexpected consequences and outcomes; the value of the unexpected.
  • Tools for stakeholders to use to further sustainability in terms of ICT.
  • The web and its complexity.

Talk Downloads

Patrignani_It’s not your father’s computing

Lago_An Online Library

Kavathatzopoulos_IT security and sustainability

Whitehouse_European Group on Ethics

 Posted by at 11:10 am

Digital Futures: what future for ICT in 2050?

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Jun 142013

Do you think about the future? What do you visualise? How do you see technologies developing in the future? What kind of society will we live in?

These were the kinds of questions posed on Friday 28 September 2012, at a short envisioning exercise was held at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Fifteen people attended the session. All came from IT backgrounds. Yet they all also had a deep concern for ICT, society, and ethical challenges. Their origins were continents and countries as widespread as Africa, Australia, the USA, and Europe (Belgium, Finland, Sweden, the UK).

Participants at Digital Futures workshop_4

People’s concerns were both utopian and dystopian. While there was hope, there was also a lot of anxiety about the near future and the further future of humankind. Oftentimes, the good was counterbalanced by the threatening. Briefly, concerns included: “Will being part of an artificial intelligence-based global network in an era of instant communications, ‘growing up Google’ from birth, drive what it is to be human?” “What will it mean to have smart cities, pod cars, and renewable energy if we entirely lose sight of what it is to be human?” On the other hand, it was feasible to see the option of: “Having choice! And anticipating a big ‘anti-digital movement’.”

After a first round of priority-setting, the attendees self-selected to join three discussion groups. The three foci were: control (Group 1); education, research, and the planet (Group 2); and the loss of human contact (Group 3).

Participants at Digital Futures workshop_3

Led by Kai Kimppa of Turku University, Finland, the first group was interested in the challenges of control, both technological and societal. The discussants covered circumstances pertinent to information security and privacy, as wide-ranging as cities, food, energy, sustainability, and values. Many of their concerns were serious and profound. Yet, among the more creative ideas, was the notion, 30 years from now, of being able – à la fictional hero, Harry Potter – to have a “personal cloaking device”, to wear like a chador, so as not to be visible at all times.

Based on the inputs from this group, a draft vision snapshot was written later which began: “In 2050 we are all born digital, RFID chips and body implants were placed under our skin after birth in the hospitals. Identity cards will not be needed as information is stored ‘inside’ us. At a global level, we are concerned about better security and the right to ‘opt in’ and ‘opt out’ anytime from the digital world. […]”

Participants at Digital Futures workshop

Facilitated by Magda Hercheui of Westminster University, UK, Group 2 focused on education, research, and the planet. In this group, there was a real sense of a desire for people to align themselves better as individuals and collectively, and with the planet. The group desired to remain open to dreams and desires, particularly for human well-being and for planetary well-being.

The third group, which worked on the loss of human contact, was animated by Renier van Heerden of  CSIR, South Africa. Here, group members spoke of the potential for the loss of human contact between cliques, groups, and generations. They also explored the differences between the real and the virtual: “Who we are as human beings, what is human warmth, and what might it be like to lose contact with ourselves in a more virtual world?” Notions such as dangerisation were also raised.

These discussions encourage ways of looking towards a vision of 2050, as well as to consider the policies and trends of the more immediate years until 2020 and 2030. Like the Long Now Foundation,[1] they create ideas for living not in the year 2013 but in 02013 (i.e., starting to count out time using five digits, not four)!

Participants at Digital Futures workshop_2

The final feedback on the session was positive. The attendees enjoyed discussing and working together, forming a sense of civic intelligence.[2] They found the interactivity exciting and stimulating. It was fun to fantasise with people, knowing that humankind has already been on a 50,000 or 60,000-year or more journey together. Interesting, technology was far from being the main focus of the discussions: humanity, social relations, and ethics really came to the fore.

This workshop took place at the end of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) Technical Committee’s 9’s (IT and Society) Human Choice and Computers 10 (HCC10). It was facilitated by Ms Bernadett Koteles-Degrendele of the European Commission’s DG Connect and Ms Diane Whitehouse, Chair, IFIP working group 9.2 social accountability and computing. These Digital Futures workshops continue regularly, organised by the European Commission in conjunction with many other organisations. All those interested are absolutely invited to join in, and to build the future together! Much can already be done directly online. More information is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/digital-futures and its Futurium http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/futurium/

[1] Long Now Foundation http://longnow.org (accessed 10 June 2013).

[2] See the work of Doug Schuler, Evergreen State college, US http://www.evergreen.edu/alumni/writersproject/douglasschuler.htm; online presentation made from Seattle, Washington, US, as a part of the Human Choice and Computers 10 (HCC10) conference (accessed 10 June 2013).

 Posted by at 11:10 am

Julie Cameron on Resilient Citizens in the Information Society

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Aug 142012

Julie Cameron has allowed us to publish the discussion framework that came out of the IFIP WG 9.2 and 9.9 Joint Workshop in Milan in June 2011 on the sustainability of the information society and its need for resilience.

You can view the paper here: http://ifipwg92.org/?page_id=156

Julie has requested feedback, which can be made in the comments portion of the page or sent to us via the Contact Us Form on the right.

Thanks Julie!

 Posted by at 1:11 pm

Sustainability and social accountability in the information society

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Jul 292012

Politeia special issue cover

Six workshop papers presented by IFIP working group 9.2 and 9.2 members and friends were published in the fourth 2011 issue of the Politeia journal. Electronic copies of the issue’s introduction are downloadable at http://www.politeia-centrostudi.org/arretrati/104.html. Full copies of the issue are available at cost from Politeia at info@politeia-centrostudi.org.

The workshop that was the source of these papers was held on Saturday June 4, 2011, in Milan. It explored overarching challenges related to social accountability and sustainability in the information society. The workshop highlighted the themes of dematerialisation [1], scarce resources, and societal discourse and collective decision-making about sustainability.

The workshop led to an exploration of societal and ethical approaches, methods and techniques that can facilitate an improved understanding and action of sustainability in relation to information and communication technologies.  It is hoped that the Politeia journal issue can enhance concentration on these activities.

Citizens’ resilience in a world that focuses on ICT: views offered by Australian member, Julie Cameron

Milan keynote speaker, Julie Cameron, Managing Director of Info. T.EC Solutions Pty Ltd. of Australia, offered to write up her position paper as a web presentation that would feature on IFIP WG 9.2’s web site.

Julie presents suggestions for how governments, organisations and citizens can focus on ICT resilience. She has already drawn on suggestions made to her by working group members and friends, Chris Zielinski, Africa, and students of Lorenz Hilty, Switzerland. Our challenge is now twofold.

First, we can use Julie’s piece to start a debate on what more can be done to move the notion of resilience forward. Second, we can encourage WG9.2 members to hold discussion on this, and other, issues in the time-periods between our physical meetings.

Our first opportunity comes between now and our next workshop meeting in February 2013.

We are encouraged to feed back our ideas, impressions and responses to Julie’s web presentation on Resilient Citizens in the Information Society. We assume in each case you will answer as an individual unless you signal that you would wish your organisation’s view to also be borne in mind. See the “Contact us” page to the right-hand side of this screen, or add a comment below. Some questions to get us going are listed below.

Dependence on ICT is growing. This makes the notion of resilience of individuals, organisations and national government important. This discussion paper raises issues associated with vulnerability, and proposes issues for improving resilience at different levels of an information society.

Which ideas for improving resilience could a working group like 9.2 best support? Or an organisation like IFIP support? What other actions and principles capable of enhancing resilience are missing? What next steps need to be taken? What resilience-related topics should be raised again in February 2013 at WG 9.2’s next meeting?

[1] Dematerialisation and substitution are defined in the 2010 OECD Information Technology Outlook as: “Advances in ICTs and other technologies facilitate the replacement of physical products and processes by digital products and processes. For example digital music may replace physical music media and teleconferences may replace business travel.” (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2010), Information Technology Outlook 2010, Paris: OECD Publishing, p.194) http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/it_outlook-2010-en

 Posted by at 12:45 pm

February Workshop update: ICT critical infrastructures and social accountability: methods, tools and techniques

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Jul 152012

On a snowy weekend in February 2012, members and friends of IFIP WG9.2 met to debate social accountability aspects of ICT infrastructures and society. The intention was to prepare participants for more in-depth discussions primed to take place at the Human Choice and Computing 10 (HCC10) conference, due to take place in Amsterdam on September 27/28 2012. [1]

Over a dozen persons braved the wintry weather to attend. Participants came from as far afield as Finland and the United States of America. Others were indeed “local” to the United Kingdom. Speakers included Catherine Flick and Don Gotterbarn, both from De Montfort University, UK; Kai Kimppa from Turku University, Finland; Richard Taylor of the International Baccalaureate; Anna Vartapetience, Surrey University UK; and Diane Whitehouse, Chair of the group.

While the workshop started with a global overview and insights from industry, it narrowed its scope to more case-specific examples drawn from eGovernment, eHealth and eIdentity.

Towards the end of the day, the door was opened to a wide-ranging discussion on how social responsibility in the information society could be encouraged. The focus was on the kinds of education that should be available in both secondary and tertiary education. To quote Richard Taylor (International Baccalaureate), a major challenge is that while:

“[U]niversity courses such as those in Social Informatics have managed to keep pace with … [the] rapid evolution of information and communication technologies and their societal impacts, … those within the secondary education sector or the workplace have not, potentially creating a knowledge gap for tomorrow’s policy makers.”

The challenge was raised of precisely how to develop or to pilot what skills might be needed by the “socially accountable, resilient, digitally wise (and/or media wise) citizen of the future”.

 Posted by at 12:58 pm

Workshop Report: Acceptable ICT systems: making a human choice

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Jun 252012

“Enabling and encouraging designers and users of computer systems to make a human choice” is crucial. An IFIP working group and special interest group jointly organised a workshop in Uppsala, Sweden on 8-10 June 2012 to focus on this challenge.[1]


Members and friends of IFIP WG9.2 and SIG9.2.2 participate in the workshop.

Turning ethical design into a collaborative, social process was a major concern[2]. Means of taking positive action covered laws, codes of practice, education, ethical research and development, and ethical design methods. Participants considered pressing questions such as: patients’ access to electronic health records[3], and close-to-body and in-body sensors[4].

The meeting started with insights into ICT use in social care, healthcare and well-being in Sweden. Also covered were information security; social media use; cloud computing; speed in technology development; and data privacy by design. Presenters came from Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. They covered academic, industry, and local authority perspectives.

Young researchers, Ryoko Asai and Miranda Kajtazi from Uppsala University and Linnaeus University, reflected on their experience:

The workshop was “vital and fruitful for innovative research to tackle comprehensively the future of human endeavours in relation to technology.” … “[It] contributed to participants’ research motivation, driving and supporting younger researchers.” … “I’m sure we will share knowledge through collaborating with each other.”

Members and friends of IFIP WG9.2 and SIG 9.2.2 gather outside Uppsala University’s main building.

This workshop and all IFIP’s latest news are reported in the IFIP June newsletter.[5]


[1] IFIP TC9 working group 9.2 on social accountability and computing and special interest group 9.2.2 on the framework of ethics of computing http://ifiptc9.csir.co.za/index.html

[2] Department of Information Technology, Uppsala University  – Ethics in IT http://www.it.uu.se/research/project/itethics

[4] Guardian Angels http://www.ga-project.eu/

 Posted by at 2:52 pm