Understanding Engineers' Drivers and Impediments for Ethical System Development: The Case of Privacy and Security Engineering

    Publication: Working/Discussion Paper

    Abstract

    Machine ethics is a key challenge in times when digital systems play an increasing role in
    people's life. At the core of machine ethics is the handling of personal data and the security of machine
    operations. Yet, privacy and security engineering are a challenge in today's business world where personal
    data markets, corporate deadlines and a lag of perfectionism frame the context in which engineers need to
    work. Besides these organizational and market challenges, each engineer has his or her specific view on the
    importance of these values that can foster or inhibit taking them into consideration. We present the results
    of an empirical study of 124 engineers based on the Theory of Planned Behavior and Jonas' Principle of
    Responsibility to understand the drivers and impediments of ethical system development as far as privacy
    and security engineering are concerned. We find that many engineers find the two values important, but do
    not enjoy working on them. We also find that many struggle with the organizational environment. They face a
    lack of time and autonomy that is necessary for building ethical systems, even at this basic level.
    Organizations' privacy and security norms are often too weak or even oppose value-based design, putting
    engineers in conflict with their organizations. Our data indicate that it is largely engineers' individually
    perceived responsibility as well as a few character traits that make a positive difference.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationVienna
    PublisherWU Vienna University of Economics and Business
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

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