The Journal of Philosophy, Science & Law

The Journal of Philosophy, Science & Law
Volume 14, June 11, 2014, pages 1-5
full text version

Book Review: Emerging Pervasive Information and Communication Technologies (PICT)*

By Thomas M. Powers**


* Edited by Kenneth D. Pimple, Springer, 2014, 252 pages

** Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director, Center for Science, Ethics & Public Policy, University of Delaware,

Emerging Pervasive Information and Communication Technologies (PICT) is a highly interdisciplinary collection of eleven essays from an NSF-sponsored workshop on “Pervasive and Autonomous Information Technology.” Editor Kenneth D. Pimple has arranged the essays so that the inquiry starts with cases and applications (concerning GPS, automated stock trading, healthcare information systems, surveillance, and the like) and closes with two decidedly more abstract or theoretical discussions of moral rules and principles, written by Pimple and Keith Miller, respectively. 

For the reader, this arrangement provides plenty of actual or near-term scenarios and applications of pervasive (some would say ‘ubiquitous’) information and communication technology (PICT), before the moral rules and principles that could be applied to them are directly considered.  But make no mistake about it: the consideration of normative issues is abundant in the earlier chapters, and this is a real strength of the book.  The less philosophically-inclined reader could easily benefit from the consideration of the applications, and yet reject the later theoretical analyses.  Likewise, the two concluding theoretical essays could stand alone as contributions to the ethics of IT.  But the essays as a group are best read as an arranged narrative—one that considers the ethical dimensions of technologies, takes account of points of intersection through the book, and then elicits the rules and principles to address these dimensions.

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