TAYJ12 Ethics of Technology 3–5 ECTS
Period I Period II Period III Period IV
Language of instruction
Type or level of studies
Postgraduate studies
Course unit descriptions in the curriculum
Yliopiston yhteiset tohtoriopinnot
Doctoral School

General description

Learning goals and outcomes:
This course aims to increase awareness of the ethical considerations with regard to development of new technology (technoethics), particularly focusing on information technology. The course provides concepts and perspectives for analyzing, reconsidering and, if necessary, regulating the development of new technologies and their use. Considering the broad concept of ethics, focus areas include social sustainability and morality of the types of technology that are rarely regulated (e.g., digitalization, artificial intelligence & robotization, social media, data analytics).

Please note that this course is different from the mandatory “Research Ethics” course: this focuses on the moral considerations in envisioning and designing new technologies, while the other focuses on ethics of carrying out research.

After the course, the student:
-    Is familiar with central concepts and theoretical frameworks related to technoethics
-    Can identify and understand critical ethical considerations related to different kinds of information technology
-    Has theoretical readiness to analyze the long-term ethical and societal effects of technological applications and to provide constructive guidance for the development
-    Is able to apply related theoretical knowledge in design and conceptualization of new technology

Target group: The course is intended for doctoral researchers in any field. No particular prerequisite knowledge or courses are required. The purpose is to bring together scholars from different fields to discuss different viewpoints and theoretical frameworks regarding the course topic.

General description: The course outlines various ethical challenges and approaches regarding the design of new technology. The lectures conceptualize and problematize various trends and approaches to technology and provide analytical perspectives that help direct the development of ethically sustainable future technologies. The practical assignment aims to cross-pollinate different ways of thinking, preconceptions, and theoretical frameworks across various disciplines, allowing the students to reflect their own work and the fields they represent.

1.    Conceptual overview and motivation: technoethics, technological utopias vs. dystopias, theoretical frameworks for ethics, some specific ethical stances such as hacker ethics, categories of sustainability, determinism vs. social constructionism, critical design
2.    Algorithmic socio-technical systems: Social bubbles & echo chambers, polarization, marginalization, mediatedness of social interaction, other adverse social and societal effects, embedding human bias into AI
3.    Surveillance: identity, privacy, new data protection regulations, the dark side of digital maps and positioning technologies, block chains and de-centralization
4.    Governance: agency and responsibilities in shaping the future technologies, logic of digital platforms, the power of the internet giants, business logic shaping professional values (e.g., in journalism)
5.    Attention: attention grabbing, attention economy, maximizing screen time, developing information addiction, audience funneling mechanisms
6.    Long-term impact: long-term perspectives and effects, what is work in the future, dependence on technology,
7.    Values in technology design: value systems and paradigms, unethical user interfaces, technological independence, dark patterns (Greenberg et al. 2014)

Expected activities:
1.    Pre-task (1-2 pages)
2.    Active participation in lectures (12-16 hours)
3.    Group assignment in inter-disciplinary groups of 3-4 members: analyzing and problematizing certain predefined topics, coupled with a review of relevant critical literature and designs
4.    Presentation of the group assignment (15-20 min.)
5.    Acting as opponent in the presentations
6.    Personal essay  (6-10 pages)

Teaching schedule

Fri 28.9. at 12-15 o'clock in Pinni B4113

Tue 30.10. at 12-15 o'clock in Virta 113

Mon 12.11. at 9-16 o'clock in C8 Main building

Mon 17.12. at 12-16 o'clock in Pinni B4113

Tue 18.12. at 12-16 o'clock in Pinni B4113

Enrollment: The participants will be selected with draw. Max. 30 students will be selected. Course is for UTA and TUT doctoral researchers. Enrolment period 1.8.-30.8.2018.

Enrolment for University Studies

Enrolment time has expired


Thomas Olsson, Teacher responsible


28-Sep-2018 – 18-Dec-2018