Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 25–42 | Cite as

Accountability in a computerized society

  • Helen Nissenbaum
Article

Abstract

This essay warns of eroding accountability in computerized societies. It argues that assumptions about computing and features of situations in which computers are produced create barriers to accountability. Drawing on philosophical analyses of moral blame and responsibility, four barriers are identified: 1) the problem of many hands, 2) the problem of bugs, 3) blaming the computer, and 4) software ownership without liability. The paper concludes with ideas on how to reverse this trend.

Key Words

accountability bugs computer ethics liability moral responsibility standard of care 

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Copyright information

© Opragen Publications 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Nissenbaum
    • 1
  1. 1.University Center for Human ValuesPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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