Information Ethics and Human Capability

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--Ann Racuya-Robbins (talk) 15:24, 7 November 2014 (UTC) To get a conversation started I have compiled a very short beginning list of materials for the User Experience to review. My hope is that the subject of information ethics will serve as a starting point of an additional approach to User Experience development at the IDESG. At the IDESG as we know the impact of ideas relating to identity are in part determined by the laws of the countries with jurisdiction over its citizens. Or another way of saying this is that it is important to keep in mind the legal context, the laws of the country, under which ideas and work products will be implemented. So for example the European Union and its Member States will implement identity developments and innovations under different laws than the United States although some of the different laws may be harmonized among countries.

A central distinction between an Information Ethics approach and a "pattern" approach is that the ethics of information in the user experience context is in scope for user experience work and user experience guidance development.

UX Requirements, Principles and Benefits

Information Ethics and Capability Approach Requirements, Principles and Benefits

THIS WORK IS IN PROGRESS and is not COMPLETE. --Ann Racuya-Robbins (talk) 15:18, 9 December 2014 (UTC) The Information Ethics and Capability Approach is an interdependent layered approach based on the human user-centric principles identified in the NSTIC Strategy. Taken together the layers create an ethical and human capability usability-fabric built to support and integrate the human user experience in the Identity Ecosystem Framework (IDEF). At the highest layer the Information Ethics and Human Capability Approach supports the human users' experience by providing a welcoming and well defined set of opportunities for the end user to express his or her requirements and responsibilities and the parameters of those requirements and responsibilities to Service Providers in online transactions. At more detailed and granular layers as described below are examples and instantiations to make these requirements and responsibilities operational online and through transactions. The next step is to detail how this usability-fabric is enmeshed with the usability and user experience principles and goals embodied in the NSTIC Strategy and the IDESG Charter.

The Strategy’s vision is: Individuals and organizations utilize secure, efficient, easy-to-use, and interoperable identity solutions to access online services in a manner that promotes confidence, privacy, choice, and innovation.

This is an example

  • The NSTIC Guided IDEF shall establish the requirements for a CONOPS for life-cycle (person) attribute management aligned with the NSTIC principles and created from a bi-direction approach balancing human userand service provider requirements, desires, and benefits.
  • The NSTIC Guided IDEF shall enable the recording of a machine readable natural language conversation between the Human User and the Service Provider(s) setting out the terms of agreement between the parties relating to the life-cycle (person) attribute management balancing human user and service provider requirements, desires, and benefits including the description, detailing and valuation of the monetization of human attributes with required user created limits, remedies and benefits. Said recorded machine readable natural language agreement shall form an access and benefits policy that can only be modified by a subsequent machine readable natural language conversational agreement.


Information Ethics Approach Concerns

    1. "Consider the following list: PAPA (privacy, accuracy, intellectual property and access); ‘the triple A’ (availability, accessibility and accuracy of information); ownership and piracy; the digital divide; infoglut and research ethics; safety, reliability and trustworthiness of complex systems; viruses, hacking and other forms of digital vandalism; freedom of expression and censorship; pornography; monitoring and surveillance; security and secrecy; propaganda; identity theft; the construction of the self; panmnemonic issues and personal identity; new forms of agency (artificial and hybrid), of responsibility and accountability; roboethics and the moral status of artificial agents; e-conflicts; the re-prioritization of values and virtues. . .these are only some of the pressing issues that characterize the ethical discourse in our information societies. They are the subject of information and computer ethics (ICE), a new branch of applied ethics that investigates the transformations brought about by ICTs and their implications for the future of human life and society, for the evolution of moral values and rights, and for the evaluation of agents’ behaviours." Location 109 of 9348 (2012-03-22). The Cambridge Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics (Cambridge Handbook Of...) . Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

What strike me in the above description is how many of these concerns are the purview of what we at IDESG are wrestling with namely "identity in cyberspace" or put in a friendlier way, Human Identity Solutions that are Privacy-Enhancing and Voluntary, Secure and Resilient, Interoperable, and Cost-Effective and Easy To Use.

Capabilities Approach Concerns

  • There are flavors and differences among those that are developing a Capabilities Approach.One that is of note has been presented by Martha Nussbaum below:

Ten Central Capabilities Nussbaum argues should be supported by all democracies are:

  1. Life. Being able to live to the end of a human life of normal length; not dying prematurely, or before one's life is so reduced as to be not worth living.
  2. Bodily Health. Being able to have good health, including reproductive health; to be adequately nourished; to have adequate shelter.
  3. Bodily Integrity. Being able to move freely from place to place; to be secure against violent assault, including sexual assault and domestic violence; having opportunities for sexual satisfaction and for choice in matters of reproduction.
  4. Senses, Imagination, and Thought. Being able to use the senses, to imagine, think, and reason—and to do these things in a "truly human" way, a way informed and cultivated by an adequate education, including, but by no means limited to, literacy and basic mathematical and scientific training. Being able to use imagination and thought in connection with experiencing and producing works and events of one's own choice, religious, literary, musical, and so forth. Being able to use one's mind in ways protected by guarantees of freedom of expression with respect to both political and artistic speech, and freedom of religious exercise. Being able to have pleasurable experiences and to avoid non-beneficial pain.
  5. Emotions. Being able to have attachments to things and people outside ourselves; to love those who love and care for us, to grieve at their absence; in general, to love, to grieve, to experience longing, gratitude, and justified anger. Not having one's emotional development blighted by fear and anxiety. (Supporting this capability means supporting forms of human association that can be shown to be crucial in their development.)
  6. Practical Reason. Being able to form a conception of the good and to engage in critical reflection about the planning of one's life. (This entails protection for the liberty of conscience and religious observance.)
  7. Affiliation.7.1 Being able to live with and toward others, to recognize and show concern for other humans, to engage in various forms of social interaction; to be able to imagine the situation of another. (Protecting this capability means protecting institutions that constitute and nourish such forms of affiliation, and also protecting the freedom of assembly and political speech.)7.2 Having the social bases of self-respect and non-humiliation; being able to be treated as a dignified being whose worth is equal to that of others. This entails provisions of non-discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, caste, religion, national origin and species.
  8. Other Species. Being able to live with concern for and in relation to animals, plants, and the world of nature.
  9. Play. Being able to laugh, to play, to enjoy recreational activities.
  10. Control over one's Environment.10.1 Political. Being able to participate effectively in political choices that govern one's life; having the right of political participation, protections of free speech and association.10.2 Material. Being able to hold property (both land and movable goods), and having property rights on an equal basis with others; having the right to seek employment on an equal basis with others; having the freedom from unwarranted search and seizure. In work, being able to work as a human, exercising practical reason and entering into meaningful relationships of mutual recognition with other workers.

Although Nussbaum by no means claimed her list as definite and unchanging, she does strongly advocate for the advantages of outlining a list of central human capabilities.

2010 the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI) (more information can be found under List of countries by inequality-adjusted HDI), and the Gender Inequality Index (GII) by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Artifacts and Ethics

This blog post, Do Artifacts Have Ethics, has a list of questions that could be very useful to us. Here are a few that appear pointedly relevant:

  • What sort of person will the use of this technology make of me?
  • What habits will the use of this technology instill?
  • What practices will the use of this technology cultivate?
  • What practices will the use of this technology displace?
  • What will the use of this technology encourage me to notice?
  • What will the use of this technology encourage me to ignore?
  • Does the use of this technology bring me joy?
  • Does the use of this technology arouse anxiety?
  • How does this technology empower me? At whose expense?
  • What possibilities for action does this technology present? Is it good that these actions are now possible?
  • What possibilities for action does this technology foreclose? Is it good that these actions are no longer possible?
  • How does the use of this technology shape my vision of a good life?
  • What limits does the use of this technology impose upon me?
  • What limits does my use of this technology impose upon others?
  • What does my use of this technology require of others who would (or must) interact with me?
  • What assumptions about the world does the use of this technology tacitly encourage?
  • What knowledge has the use of this technology disclosed to me about myself?
  • What knowledge has the use of this technology disclosed to me about others? Is it good to have this knowledge?
  • What are the potential harms to myself, others, or the world that might result from my use of this technology?
  • Upon what systems, technical or human, does my use of this technology depend? Are these systems just?
  • Does using this technology require me to think more or less?
  • What risks will my use of this technology entail for others? Have they consented?
  • Can the consequences of my use of this technology be undone? Can I live with those consequences?
  • Can I be held responsible for the actions which this technology empowers? Would I feel better if I couldn’t?


Below find a short introductory list of some of the material on Information Ethics and Human Capabilities.

Other Material