Ethics of Identity in the Time of Big Data - Delivered at 25th Annual International Vincentian Business Ethics Conference (IVBEC), 2018, St. John’s University, New York


According to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, big data reality means, “The days of having a different image for your co-workers and for others are coming to an end, which is good because having multiple identities represents a lack of integrity.” Two sets of questions follow. One centers on technology and asks how big data mechanisms collapse our various selves (work-self, family-self, romantic-self) into one personality. The second question set shifts from technology to ethics by asking whether we want the kind of integrity that Zuckerberg lauds, and that big data technology enables. The negative response is explored by sketching three ethical conceptions of selfhood that recommend personal identity be understood as dis-integrating. The success of the strategies partially depends upon an undermining use of big data platforms.

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James Brusseau
Pace University


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