Ethics from Within: Google Glass, the Collingridge Dilemma, and the Mediated Value of Privacy

Olga Kudina (Corresponding Author), Peter-Paul Verbeek

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87 Citations (Scopus)
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Following the “control dilemma” of Collingridge, influencing technological developments is easy when their implications are not yet manifest, yet once we know these implications, they are difficult to change. This article revisits the Collingridge dilemma in the context of contemporary ethics of technology, when technologies affect both society and the value frameworks we use to evaluate them. Early in its development, we do not know how a technology will affect the value frameworks from which it will be evaluated, while later, when the implications for society and morality are clearer, it is more difficult to guide the development in a desirable direction. Present-day approaches to this dilemma focus on methods to anticipate ethical impacts of a technology (“technomoral scenarios”), being too speculative to be reliable, or on ethically regulating technological developments (“sociotechnical experiments”), discarding anticipation of the future implications. We present the approach of technological mediation as an alternative that focuses on the dynamics of the interaction between technologies and human values. By investigating online discussions about Google Glass, we examine how people articulate new meanings of the value of privacy. This study of “morality in the making” allows developing a modest and empirically informed form of anticipation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-314
Number of pages24
JournalScience, technology & human values
Issue number2
Early online date21 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


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