EBICC New Header

10th International Brazilian Meeting on Cognitive Science

Round Table 2: ICT and Society: Ethical issues on the influences of ICT in individuals’ daily life

December 7, 2015 – 3:45 PM

Theme 1 – Common spontaneous action in the context of the new informational technologies
Presenter – Mariana C. Broens
(Department of Philosophy, State University of São Paulo, UNESP, campus Marília)


The objective of this communication is to investigate possible implications of the new informational technologies in human common action, especially in spontaneous actions of everyday life. In order to do so, I will characterize common spontaneous action as the result of the information offered by affordances present in the environment (GIBSON, 1986), without the need of mediation by mental representations. Following I will analyze possible difficulties to the cognitive modeling of this kind of action. Finally, I will discuss pragmatic implications in common spontaneous action of the generalized use of the new informational technologies, like Internet of Things, currently mediators of a meaningful part of human interactions in industrialized societies.

Theme 2 – Ubiquitous systems and Internet of Things, and their impact on society and personal life
Presenter – Guiou Kobayashi
(Federal University of ABC – UFABC)


Internet of Things (IoT) is a scenario where devices like sensors, actuators and other real world objects are connected over a network (like the Internet), with the capacity of exchange data with computer systems without necessarily requiring human intervention. Some of these devices are ubiquitous (as defined by Mark Weiser), meaning that they are designed to interact with humans, and others are pervasive and embedded in the environment and in the everyday objects and machines. With IoT, it will be possible for the computer systems to interact with the real physical world, including people, machines, and the environment. Sensors and actuators will provide feedback to the systems built for specific purposes (purposeful systems), allowing these systems to measure the effectiveness and efficiency that their actions have in the real world. It will be possible to develop systems intended for the purposes of persuasion for example, (improvement of suggestion systems already in use in e-commerce), with actions on real world provided by IoT. The improved data availability and accuracy, coupled with database integration capabilities and data mining might enable finer adjustment of the actions. IoT raises a new level of privacy and ethical concerns. Despite the widespread use of smartphones in industrialized societies, it is still possible to turn these devices off or disconnect them from the network. With IoT technology, however, the sensors might be everywhere and they might always be turned on. In this case, it will not be possible to disable them, because individuals are not the owners of the devices. Who owns the data collected by IoT in public places? How, and by whom, will the data be used? In today’s scenario, where a small number of Internet companies (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc.) can access all the available data on the net, these questions must be analyzed seriously.


Theme 3 – Robots for care and assistance ethical implications in the ageing society
Presenter – Arturo Forner-Cordero
(Biomechatronics Lab, Mechatronics Department, Politechnic School of University of São Paulo, USP)


There are several ethical and legal issues (BOGUE, 2004a, 2004b) regarding the development and deployment of robots. In particular the military robots and more recently drones have received a lot of attention due to the ethical implications of their operation. An emerging area of robotics research focuses on service robots oriented to provide care, help, assistance, rehabilitation or training to the human user. In this group some authors include companion or pet robots such as Paro or Aibo. However, in my opinion, they must be considered separately due to the emotional problems they may elicit. In care robot design and the human- robot-interface there are two main ethical issues that are already well established: safety and privacy. For instance, in a class of care robots, such as exoskeletons, that have a strong physical and cognitive interaction with the user it is necessary to define safety mechanisms at several levels of the design. At the mechanical level there could be passive safety elements: including mechanical stops at the joints to prevent going beyond the range of motion of the subject or active: limiting the maximal forces/torques applied by the actuators. At the control level systems like impedance control or limiting functions can be used to avoid the generation of large torques, velocities and accelerations that could compromise the safety of the subject. Privacy is another issue already solved: as the robot gathers lots of information about the human user it is possible to have a privacy problem. This issue is commonly addressed in the Institutional Review Boards with respect to data obtained from experiments and the same solution can be applied to care robots. Departing from the obvious ethical problems, it is possible to include some methodology to integrate ethics into the design of exoskeletons (SULLINS, 2015). This methodology includes the evaluation of different aspects of the exoskeleton and its expected mode of operation. The practice and context of operation, the actors involved along with their levels of responsibility, the type of robot (rehabilitation, assistive, enabling) and the possible moral elements involved (WYNSBERGHE, 2013). This type of methodology will be presented with a case study about a lower limb exoskeleton designed to assist biped gait of paraplegic patients.

Theme 4 – ICT, society, and the emergence of the hybrid beings
Presenter – João Antonio de Moraes
(PhD Candidate of Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences, State University of Campinas, UNICAMP)


Because of the increasing presence of ICTs in the individuals’ daily life, new ways of being-in-the-world are emerging, changing current habits and influencing the way that individuals act and understand themselves in the world, both in relation to other individuals and to their environment. The Internet stands out as a catalyst to digital being-in-the-world. One of the most noteworthy and prominent changes associated with the influence of ICTs over individuals is in terms of communication, where individuals, who were until recently only receivers of information, have now become producers of information for a global network. In doing so, the new communication paradigm changes one’s conception of the world and they become both actor within, and catalyst to, an immersed digital environment, thus constituting a bottom-up movement that is decentralized, an environment by which users are active participants. Beyond the communication aspect, there is a naturalization of new forms of action in the world in the process of digitalization, much like there is in any new dynamic of society where ICTs is more then tools. As Capurro (2010) remarks, “The view of computers as something ‘other’ is disappearing, i.e., they are less and less ‘some-thing’ or ‘other-than-us’ and permeate the world in which we – or, more precisely: some of us – live”. Moreover, with the development of ICTs and the disappearance of the boundary between physical and digital worlds, there is a direct influence of ICTs in the personal identity of individuals, where “in designing tools we are designing ways of being”. As expressed by Ihde (2004), there is a change in the life-world texture. With the notion of ICTs as “technologies of the self”, Floridi (2014) believe that ICTs has promoted changes in the self-undertanding of individuals within the world, in his/her relation to the others and his/her environment. In Floridi’s (2014) words: “The self is seen as a complex informational system, made of consciousness activities, memories, or narratives. And since ICTs can deeply affect such informational patterns, they are indeed powerful technologies of the self”. From such understanding, once you have new possibilities for action, and expressions within the world by individuals, there are new ways for influence and change individuals’ self- understanding. What little analysis has been offered towards understanding the influence that ICTs have had on the behavior and self- understanding of individuals and has been thus far largely restricted to user groups that include children and teenagers, namely the so-called Generation Z (“Z” in correspondence to zettabytes, the amount of information generated before 2010; GANTZ & DAVID, 2011). These individuals, often called “digital natives”, have never known access to a world without the presence and persistent influence of Google, Twitter, Wikipedia, and Facebook, where such terms are understood not as merely services but as verbs (FLORIDI, 2014). Generation Z was born into, and raised, surrounded by ICTs, and all of the above ‘novelties’ of information and communication are rendered through natural actions in the case of digital natives. It is in this scenario that we will argue that the hybrid beings appear as a result of the influence the dissemination of ICTs in individuals’ daily life, promoting the naturalization process and of the digitalization of the world, executing two expressions of the same world. As Moraes & Andrade (2015) argues the hybrid being is characterized by his/her ability to act without strangeness in a context in which ICTs are disseminated. Thus, action and an individual’s own personal identity is reinterpreted via mediation of ICTs, and this already becomes a part of his/her own existence. In other words, the hybrid being is the result of a process of an informational reinterpretation promoted by the inclusion of ICTs in the daily life of individuals, expressed in physical/digital dimensions. Questions on the characteristics and performances of hybrid beings in the world will also be discussed.