Ethics and Decisions in Distributed Technologies: A Problem of Trust and Governance Advocating Substantive Democracy

  • Antonio CarnevaleEmail author
  • Carmela Occhipinti
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 1009)


The distributed architecture of applications such as blockchains, wireless sensor networks, multi-agent platforms, and the Internet of Things charges technological development to face, by default, with two aspects of responsibility that were usually accorded to human beings: the “decision” (Who is enabled to make decisions in a decentralized system? What about the mechanism for deciding? Authorized by whom? With what kind of consensus?) and “ethics” (To which principles must respond the decision-making mechanism? And, if decisions are distributed, what is the role of ethics? To guide or to laissez-faire? Permissive or restrictive? For everyone or only for those who are authorized?). Responding to these epochal questions can lead to rethinking the distributed technologies in view of a game-changing transformation of models of trust-in-governance. From a model signed by centralization of trust, we have come to progressively more decentralized forms until the contemporary “distributed trust”. This paper constitutes an endeavor to introduce and address the main philosophical foundations of this historical passage.


Ethics Philosophy of technology Blockchain Governance Trust Decision-making Relation of economics to social values 



This work is supported by the project PERSONA funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme EU.3.7.6. under grant agreement No. 787123.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CyberEthics LabCarditoItaly

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