Ethics of Cyber-Physical-Human Systems

Meera Sampath and I have written a new paper on the topic of ethics of cyber-physical-human systems. From the abstract of the paper:

“This paper¬† focuses on a conceptual framework for consideration of ethical issues in the emerging category of smart cyber-physical systems. Cyber-physical systems (CPS) that bring together controls, communications, computing and physical systems are being developed in a wide variety of application domains ranging from transportation, energy, manufacturing, to biomedical and agriculture. Increasingly, cyber-physical systems are integrating internet-of-things, data science, and machine learning technologies leading to smart cyber-physical systems. Smart CPS are already being and will increasingly be deployed to work with humans, in workplaces, homes, or public spaces, resulting in the creation of cyber-physical human systems (CPHS).

Ethical issues in CHP and CPHS can be framed within the larger frameworks of ethics of technology and ethics of artificial intelligence. We begin with a description of trends and visions for the future development of smart CPS. We next outline fundamental theories of ethics that offer foundations for thinking about ethical issues in smart CPS. We argue that it is necessary to fight the tendency towards technological determinism. We argue that in analyzing ethics of smart CPS, we need to anticipate increasing capabilities and the future deployment of such systems. Ultimately, if these systems are widely deployed in society, they will have a very significant impact, including possible negative consequences, on individuals, communities, nations, and the world. Our framework has two main dimensions: (i) stage of development of CPHS domain and (ii) locus of decision making: individual, organizational and government settings.”