Monday, 14 May 2007

Pervasive Computing and Ethics

Together with Boriana Koleva I organized the doctoral colloquium at Pervasive 2007 in Toronto. We had 9 students presenting and discussing their PhD work with us.

One central observation was that we come to a point where we have to make more and more ethical decisions. Many things that are technical feasible and harmless within the lab may have sincere implications in the real world. If technologies for tracking, tracing and mining (e.g. social network analysis, location based services, context-aware systems) are deployed beyond the lab the question of choice becomes a real issue – are users aware of it and can they opt-out?

In the area of context-awareness technology has moved on since I started my PhD on the topic nearly 10 years ago – but amazingly scenarios did change little. Automatically detecting a meeting is still on the students slides. The more I learn and understand about context-awareness the more it becomes apparent that this apparently simple use case is amazingly hard!

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