Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Center to Host 'Ethics and Technology: Access, Accountability, and Regulation'

Who will be the winners and losers on the information superhighway? What ethical issues are raised by advances in biotechnology? Is it time to regulate spam? These are some of the topics that highlight the third annual Conference on Ethics and Technology, held this year at Santa Clara University, June 5 and 6.

Sponsored by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Boston College, and Loyola University Chicago, this year's conference brings people from the technology industry together with scholars studying the ethical questions raised by new products and services. "The idea of the conference is to give the working folks in Silicon Valley the opportunity to reflect on these technological/ethical issues that they might not have had a chance to think about," said conference chair Tim Healy, SCU professor of electrical engineering.

Silicon Valley corporate leaders, such as Michael Hackworth (CEO and president, Cirrus Logic) and A.C. "Mike" Markkula (owner, A.C.M. Investments) will share the podium with academics such as Hal Varian (dean and professor, Information and Management Systems, U.C.Berkeley) and Beth Stewart (Stanford Human Genome Project).

The basic themes of the conference are access, accountability, and regulation, Healy explained. Friday's program features four panels beginning with "The Internet: Technical, Economic, Social, and Political Challenges." James Koch, director of SCU's Center for Science, Technology, and Society and panel moderator, expects the program to address such issues as privacy, protection of property rights, and freedom from unwanted materials. Panelists will also look at who controls Net content. "We'll consider how proprietary standards and competitive forces are likely to shape future innovations," Koch said.

"Winners and Losers on the Information Highway" focuses more specifically on access to the Internet. Panel moderator Al Hammond, multimedia attorney and visiting professor of law at SCU, said the group will look at "the downside of technology and what can be done to minimize it."

Too often, Hammond said, software and site developers put the tool before the user. "They build from the technology out instead of from the human out." A more human-centered technology would be more culturally neutral, he continued. "It wouldn't select for one physical set of characteristics over another, one language over another, one perception of reality over another."

Panel 3, "The Ethics of Biotechnology," explores several topical and contro- versial areas, including the Human Genome Project and enhancements to longevity. According to moderator Margaret McLean, director of biotechnology and health care ethics at the Ethics Center, the panel "allows people who are actually doing the science to reflect on what they see as the ethical edges or questions." Participants in-clude Andrea Bodnar, a scientist from Geron Corp., which has reported the successful extension of the life span of normal human cells using the enzyme telomerase.

Rounding out Friday's program is "Company Culture and Company Ethics." Moderated by Center Director of Ethics Programs Barry Stenger, the panel brings together some of the Silicon Valley's most dynamic corporate leaders to discuss how a company can develop a culture that encourages ethical behavior.

Saturday's program highlights the work of academic scholars and other researchers who focus on ethics and technology. Topics and presenters include:

The First Amendment
and the Internet

Richard A. Spinello, Boston College

Rethinking the Intersections
of Family and Community:
The Implications for Technology

June Carbone, Santa Clara University

Creativity and Ownership:
Where is the Balance?

Ram Samudrala, Stanford University

Accountability in the Classroom
Ronald Kizior
Loyola University Chicago
Mary Malliaris
Loyola University Chicago

For more information, call 408-554-5319 or visit the conference Web site.