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Possible lessons from a recent technology (Nuclear) for an emerging (Ubiquitous Embedded Systems) technology

David J. LePoire (Environmental Assessment Division, Argonne National Laboratory)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Publication date: 30 November 2004


Information Technology (IT) has ushered in not only large societal opportunities but also large uncertain ‐ ties and risks. Future developments, like ubiquitous networked embedded systems, are technologies society may face. Such technologies offer larger opportunities and uncertainties because of their ability to widely distribute power through their small, inexpensive, and ubiquitous characteristics. Many interpretations of how these technologies may develop have been postulated, ranging from the conservative Precautionary Principle, to uncontrolled development leading to “singularity.” With so much uncertainty and so many predictions about the benefits and consequences of these technologies, it is important to raise ethical questions, determine potential scenarios, and try to identify appropriate decision points and stakeholders. Rather than going along an unknown path, perhaps lessons could be learned from recently deployed technologies, such as nuclear technology, that were controversial but offered similarly large potential benefits and risks. The experience of nuclear technology development, with its various successes and failures, is recalled and compared with potential scenarios in the development of networked embedded systems



LePoire, D.J. (2004), "Possible lessons from a recent technology (Nuclear) for an emerging (Ubiquitous Embedded Systems) technology", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 2 No. 4, pp. 225-234.



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