Exploring the Dark Side: Ethical Implications of Information Technologies



Theodore Allan Morris

Kent State University School of Library and Information Science, Columbus Program, 124 Mount Hall, 1050 Carmack Road, Columbus, OH 43210. Email: tamorris@kent.edu


Victor Rosenberg

University of Michigan, School of Information, 305 C West Hall, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. Email: victorr@umich.edu



Thomas J. Froehlich, Kent State University, School of Lib. & Info Science, P.O. Box 5190, Kent OH 44242. Email: tfroehli@kent.edu

Robert Guthrie, recently of Hoffman-LaRoche,

Victor Rosenberg, University of Michigan, School of Information, 305 C West Hall, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. Email: victorr@umich.edu

Martha M. Smith, College of Information Science and Technology, Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA. 19104. Email: marti.smith@cis.drexel.edu





As information technologies (IT) integrate more seamlessly, they also raise essential ethical questions regarding access to and security of vital personal information. This panel will explore such unintended consequences of recent IT developments as economic inequality between the information rich and poor, potentials for invasions of personal privacy, and threats to democracy inherent in the proliferation of information technology. Panelists will address such issues as

·    How information infrastructures impose new and often invisible burdens. Standardization, classification, and quantification represent one "dark side" of information technology -- not necessarily negative, but "dark" in the sense of invisible, unspeakable, unseeable. Consider “what-if” scenarios that may arise from improper sharing of personal medical information.


How new information infrastructures bring with them new, often-unnoticed interdependencies. Social costs include thephenomena of addictive media engagement (more hours spent watching screens, reduced social interaction and "social capital") and even military vulnerabilities.

How a new "information colonialism" shares many features with more familiar forms of colonialism from the 19th and 20th centuries

·    How we may consider the deterministic ideology inherent in information technology.

·    What potential chilling effects arise from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other information technology property-rights contentions.

·    What responsibilities IT professionals have for completeness and accuracy of content beyond system performance.