Ethical Aspects of Research in Ultrafast Communication

In Paul Sollie & Marcus Düwell (eds.), Evaluating New Technologies: Methodological Problems for the Ethical Assessment of Technology Developments. Springer (2009)
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This chapter summarizes the reflections of a scientist active in optical communication about the need of ethical considerations in technological research. An optimistic definition of ethics, being the art to make good use of technology, is proposed that emphasizes the necessarily involvement of not only technologists but also experts in humanity. The paper then reviews briefly the research activities of a Dutch national consortium where the author had been involved. This mainly academic research dealt with advanced approaches for ultrafast communication. In the next section an assessment is given of the potential impact of the technological results on society. In order to emphasize the positive aspects and counteract the negative ones, three steps are proposed: (i) create conditions for a dialogue between experts in ethics and technology; (ii) work out scenarios for the introduction of new techniques in society; (iii) anticipate opportunities and threats. Finally the conclusions are presented.
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